Being a young mom of two toddlers, I’m often approached by many other woman who want to know the secret to my glamorous look. And by many other woman, I mean absolutely no one. Even now, as I type this, there is literally dried yogurt in my hair. I felt it when I ran my fingers through my glossy locks and I thought, “Oh, a clip.”
It’s not a clip. It’s dried yogurt.
Then there’s the time when I was waiting in line at the La Lucia clinic for baby vaccinations. I stood rocking my restless infant in the crowded room, with my serene, I’m-so-chilled-even-though-I’m-in-a-germ-infested-clinic face on, and I occasionally caught the eye of someone in the room who smiled at me. I smiled sweetly back at them. Hi there. Yes. I am one of those relaxed, go with flow mamas, how are you? Until about 20 minutes into my stand-up demonstration of awesomeness when a kind elderly woman whispered to me that my fly was down.
If you’re not convinced about my sophisticated style, let me share the events of last month. We were down on the South Coast for an absolutely idyllic family holiday. I’m talking warm sunny weather, clambering over rock pools looking for crabs, building sand castles in the little bay in which a burst sewage pipe flowed giving everyone in our family chronic diarrhoea and vomiting for the entire ten days. That’s right. Idyllic.
After four nights of changing bed sheets and pyjamas and syringing medicine into a baby’s throat, I had had enough. The boys had woken up at 4.30am. I had to get them out the house. My poor parents had been amazing but I suspect they were on the verge of disowning us, and I’m pretty sure my sister will being arranging a vasectomy for her fiancé when they get back to Cape Town. So I packed the two kids into the car and drove to the Shelly Centre at 6am. There the three of us walked around the mall in our pyjamas for an hour, looking into the windows of the closed stores and waving at the staff who stared at us as they walked to work. Did I mention I was wearing my bright purple running shoes? It was a highlight in glamour for me, personally.
But what is it that makes a woman beautiful? Is it her hair or her clothes or her flawless make up? Is it her skinny bum or long legs or ability to rock the sky-high wedges?
Here’s the truth. You are not more feminine when you are beautiful. You are a beautiful woman when you are brave.
- Brave is the mom dropping her baby off at day care for the first time because whether she wants to or not, she’s got to work full-time.
- Brave is the single woman going to another work function alone, another dinner with all the couples, and popping the champagne for another friend getting engaged.
- Brave is the woman visiting the fertility clinic each month, waiting for her own good news, and throwing a gorgeous baby shower for her best friend.
- Brave is the forty-something empty nester who starts studying for her degree after the kids have left home and is the oldest person in the lecture hall.
- Brave is the young career woman applying for that top position even though all the colleagues she’s up against are guys who play golf with the boss.
Brave is beautiful.
On 9 August 1956, more than 20 000 South African women marched to the Union Buildings on in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. It was a turning point in the role of women in the struggle from apartheid. Absolutely beautiful. On the way to the Union Buildings the women sang a freedom song: “Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!”
[When] you strike the women,
you strike a rock,
you will be crushed [you will die]!
Brave is beautiful. And women rock.
Your marital status, your ability to produce offspring and the size of your bra is not what makes you a beautiful person. It’s your unique perspective and talent and strength that make you beautiful. It’s your ability to partner with other men and women in the workplace and in schools and in families and in communities, to put things right in the world and contribute towards the things that really matter that make you beautiful. And every single one of us can do that. Brave is beautiful.
Just before I sat down to write this, I lay on my little boy’s bed as he fell asleep. There in the dark, he snuggled up to me, lying with his forehead against mine, his warm chubby hand on my cheek.
“Love you, precious mama”, he whispered.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. This right here. This moment. This is beautiful.
And then, he licked my face.
Yes. It’s a beautiful thing to be a woman.