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Womanhood

tammyIn the immortal words of Tammy Wynette, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.

Just don’t waste your time trying to explain that to a 10.5 year old on the cusp of puberty.

Oh, my girl is a hormone machine. She pinballs from ecstasy to tragedy and back again in the time it takes to ask her how school was today. The tears are ready to flow at a moment’s notice and the only guaranteed way to stop them is to offer her copious amounts of chocolate and a trip to the nail salon for a mani-pedi.

She is, after all, my daughter.

Her BFF’s are now sworn enemies. Until tomorrow, when they are BFF’s again. Until the next day, when they are sworn enemies again. And so on and so on and so on.

Boys are gross. Except this one. And that one. And, please mom, I beg you, don’t tell anyone, but that one too.

School is torture, school is awesome. She can’t wait for middle school next year. She never wants to leave elementary school.

And through it all, my mother laughs at the stories of my girl being bitchy and cranky and prone to tears for no apparent reason. Because she and I traveled this road together 35 or so years ago.

I recognize my girl’s moods. I remember her moods from when they were my own. When nothing anyone said was right thing to say. When all I wanted was for someone to see me. When all I wanted was to just be left alone. When I wanted more than anything to be an adult. When I wanted to stay a kid forever. When I had no earthly idea what I wanted.

She is, after all, my daughter.

And here I stand, on the opposite side of the hormone journey. Forced into menopause to keep the cancer at bay, I too am bitchy and cranky and prone to tears for no apparent reason. I’m not fighting with my BFF’s, but my husband sure has learned to take a verbal punch. I want to be with my kids every second of the day. I want to ship them off to boarding school. I want spend every waking minute with my husband. I want to smother him with his own pillow.

As my daughter gets used to wearing a bra every day, I’m still trying to remember to wear my prosthesis every day. Winter is a great time for forgetting to wear my fake boob because I’m covered up by sweaters and coats and no one can really tell when I’m not wearing it. It’s when spring comes that I’m going to be embarrassed if I forget it at home one day.

And as my daughter is reading about getting her first period, I’m scheduling surgery to have my ovaries removed to further lessen the production of tumor-feeding estrogen in my body.

She is right at the beginning of becoming a woman. With cute bras from Justice and the 5th grade health video looming. Giggling about boys without really knowing what she’s giggling about quite yet. Fighting and bonding and fighting and bonding with friends as they each grow and change and figure out who they are and who they need their support system to be.

And while she’s at the beginning, I am fighting the notion that my womanhood is coming to an end. I know that genetically I am forever female and my gender identity has never been in question. But what kind of woman am I, with one boob, no ovaries, and a beard that, thanks to my hormonal confusion, comes in even more luxuriously than my husband’s?

I have to guide my girl into womanhood at the same time I’m trying to preserve my sense of femininity. Both of us bitchy and cranky and prone to tears.

To my husband and sons, I wish you the very best of luck. We are not easy to deal with, my girl and I, but we’re doing the best we can.

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