Posted by: alegra22 | April 27, 2011

in praise of testosterone

I admit it – I envy testosterone. When I was a child, I wanted to be both the beautiful princess and Peter Pan charging through the sky, mischief sparking off my heels and that jauntily raised eyebrow that said, “You’ll never catch me.” Over the years, I’ve scrambled to keep up with the males in my life. My will clenched against my body’s programming to survive. Ignoring my heart and its very clear message “If you follows those boys/men you are going to DIE!” I’ve scrambled over rocks, found footing on steep climbs, jumped off of bridges, gripped the handlebars of a mountain bike on a downhill, picked up speed on a skateboard while my brain shrunk back to the far corner of my skull, and paddled into surf conditions that had my body screaming, “What the hell are you doing? You can’t even SWIM!”

The whole time, I’ve envied the seamless joy present in the males around me. There were no tears or sloppy stitching between their will and bodies.  Mind and body all worked together to believe in flight, to push toward that edge of aliveness that my body seemed to be straining away from. I wanted what the boys had. I wanted that bright-eyed hunger for adrenaline, and if it didn’t come naturally to me, I was going to use my discipline to chase it down.

I had forgotten about all of this. For the last seven years, I’ve been busy being flooded with pregnancy hormones and transformed by motherhood. It is only in my dreams that I paddle through dark waters, shadows moving beneath me. I take flight beneath a hyper blue sky, irridescent scales flicking the light, as my sleeping body curls around my daughter, my husband’s feet seek mine beneath the covers, earplugs in my ears, fighting for every minute of rest.

This Easter weekend, Dan and I had the honor of going down to Taranaki to help supervise a group of boys attending the Christian Surfers’ Camp. Taranaki is my old stomping grounds – where I learned to surf, really surf. It seemed the perfect way to celebrate a holiday of rebirth. I would be baptized in salt water, born again in the waves. I was a pink-clad female in a mob of grey hooded sweatshirts, tight jeans slung so low on hips that jockey shorts became part of the boys’ fashion choices. I listened to the banter and gossip, the steady crunch of junk food being consumed, the pop and hiss of energy drinks downed and then the cans crushed as the next adventure debated, moans about how long it took to walk to a particular point break countered by farts, accusations of being lazy.

For the first time in my life, I was able to watch males in their natural environment, uneffected by the presence of a female that registered as anything other than their teacher’s wife and a mother of three who knew a thing or two about surfing. What I learned was this: instead of envying that roiling, howling, joyful momentum to do backflips into the maws of a shorebreak dark with sand and force, I allowed it pass over me, to infect me, to teach me. I didn’t try to match it. I’ve been forever changed by motherhood. I paddled out into waves and my will no longer said: Just push through. My will now said: You have three beautiful children who need you.

I pulled for waves with both a greater determination and a deeper caution. Every edge I push myself over is both a victory for my children and a calculated risk. Watching as the boys wrestled each other down in fields of mud and cow patties, tumbled down hills, dove into ice-cold rivers, did back flips from great heights, I let their enthusiasm press through the knots of tension and self-seriousness I hold in my body. I allowed it to educate me and throw open the windows to a different view. 

This weekend I stood in my mother skin, in my gentle female body with all of its desire to take flight so long as it can be reassured that it will find a safe place to land.

I stood with my hip bruised from the rocks, my hand bleeding, my hair dripping saltwater and realized: I am glad to be what I am.

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Responses

  1. You words bring life and meaning to the very things that most ignore. Always beautiful.


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