I never had anything against hair bows. It's just that they weren't my thing. When I was big and pregnant with Toddler and I knew she was a girl, I waddled around the Upper West Side, a wayward anthropologist, studying the species of Little Girls. And I noticed that the hair bow was almost a universal. More popular than pink. And because I don't judge (ever), I didn't judge. I just made the mental note that when my girl made her debut, she would not wear much pink. Just a splash here and there. And NEVER those ridiculous, floppy ribbon bows. Not that there was anything wrong with them. No.
Thankfully, Toddler was born with just a dusting of hair. Hair that she would surreptitiously shed as she slept. And each morning when I rescued her from her crib (So Shabby! So Chic!), I would barely notice that she was getting more and more bald. And then one day she was completely bald with a few stray blonde hairs claiming purchase here and there. And this confirmed for me something I'd always felt: I love bald babies! Proudly, I paraded my bald baby around the world, eliciting smiles and coos from passersby. And every now and then, a particularly friendly stranger would proclaim, "HE is so unbelievably cute!"
The first thirty-four times this happened, I diplomatically corrected the offender in my midst. But then I stopped. It was tiresome explaining to the ignorant that baby girls can be hairless and that I had one such baby girl. Instead, I broke out the pink. With a vengeance. But this didn't help. My pink clad baby was so obviously male because she had no hair. And then I did it. I caved. A few months shy of her first birthday, when Toddler started to sprout the cutest tuft of blonde fuzz on the top of her head, I did it. I bought a hair bow. And I clipped it in there. Promptly, I decided it looked absolutely ridiculous. But I left it in there. A social experiment, if you will. And, magic! People stopped marveling at the unparalleled cuteness of my boy. No they said other things. Things like: Did you glue that on there? What did you clip that to? Look at that bow! It looks like it's floating! How funny!
But it was not funny. It was adorable. Precious. And not at all prime evidence of a deeply insecure mother. Whatever. So what did I do? I invested a small fortune in hair bows. Ones with rhinestones and rainbows and tiny ladybugs. And then I bought a few of the plain, classy, ribbon ones that I had always hated. A few = one in every color and every size.
When I found out that I was pregnant with another girl, I felt good about it because I love girl babies and because I knew I had so many hair bows. And, again, shockingly, when the time came I produced a baby without a surplus of hair. But this time, things were different. I was not worried about what other people thought. No. From time to time, I put my little girl in navy. And no hair bows. No. Fine for her big sis who now has a bevy of ringlets. But not for Baby. Baby's chick-fuzzy head is gorgeous as is. Gorgeous. And perfectly round. And utterly, unequivocally feminine.
So. This morning I decided that our Wednesday Girls Day would be an active one, exquisitely planned, full of adventure. So I got the girls dressed. And on the way out the door, I realized that I had unintentionally dressed them in matching outfits. This made me smile because nothing screams I have it all together like having girls in matching outfits. Gray shirts on each girl, magenta plaid bloomers on Toddler, magenta pants on Baby. Beyond cute. This was going to be a good day.
I put the girls in the double stroller and then, fitfully, that monstrosity dragged me down the steps and almost flattened an innocent pedestrian gracefully, expertly, I bumped that stroller down our brownstone steps and it landed like a feather on the sidewalk. I looked at my matching girls and thought, I have it all together. But then. Halfway to Starbucks, I took inventory of myself. The baggy jean shorts, the red striped t-shirt leftover from a pregnancy, the chipped toenail polish, the knotted hair. I took a finger and ran it under one of my eyes and then examined and as I guessed it was covered in last night's mascara. Suddenly, standing there in my flattering Where's Waldo T and my vintage makeup, I thought: All together, indeed.
At Starbucks, we waited on line. Toddler begged articulately for a blueberry muffin. Baby flirted with the petite woman on line behind me. After cooing like a crazy with my daughter, said woman turned to me and said: How old is HE? Whatever. Whatever. Not a big deal. I am an expert at this dance. I was fine with it. But Baby seemed marginally miffed. SHE is almost ten months, I said, politely, to this chatty stranger. And turned away. SHE is wearing pink pants, I thought, but of course did not say. The coos continued. The nice barista fetched the blueberry muffin. The woman reengaged. HE is so beautiful. Whatever. I nodded. And paid for the blueberry muffin.
We found a quaint little table and the three of us ate tiny bits of blueberry muffin. Toddler stayed put in her big girl seat. She did not run around Starbucks hiking those plaid bloomers up over her tiny thighs and screaming. No. She would never do that. Never.
On to the playground. The girls swung side by side, smiling, in their matching, very girly, magenta. Toddler (wearing a vast pale pink hair bow, mind you) zoomed around the park and Baby and I followed, elegantly sweating, watching her climb and slide. A few moments later, Toddler told me she had to peeps. So off we went to the dimly-lit and uber-sanitary public bathroom where I multi-tasked like an old pro, sliding those little bloomers down and placing one baby squarely on that public toilet seat while clutching my other girl in the other arm, begging her in hushed tones not to lick the tiles. Mission accomplished. Hands washed. All together now. Easy as pie.
It was time for Baby's nap. Knowing there was no way I would get that stroller with both girls in it up those stairs without mortally harming one of us, I put Baby in Toddler's "upstairs" seat. Because big girl Toddler can climb stairs. Fabulous plan. Except. Toddler became rabidly protective of her seat. The tears were impressive. On the way home, to distract her, I asked her to look for jaguars and lizards in the pathetic flower beds along the sidewalk. Genius. (She did not find any.) We reached home and I got that stroller and my big girl up the steps. And I felt victorious. Borderline smug.
And it occurred to me that Baby had been so quiet on the way home. I suspected that she had fallen asleep. I peered over the stroller canopy and it took me a minute to find her. But find her, I did. There she was! Under a vast pile of blueberry muffin rubble. Her cheeks were blue. She'd eaten only half the wrapper. I began to rethink the having it all together status. But I persevered, lugged two kids, the diaper bag, and a fistful of blueberry muffin up the stairs, leaving a clever, not-remotely-symbolic trail of crumbs in my wake.
Home, sweet home. Civilization. Right. This is what happened next. The abridged(ish) version because who am I to think you want to read much more than 1211 words of this whiny nonsense? No nap for Baby. Somewhere between two and seven episodes of Handy Manny. For some reason that I will not share, Toddler's bloomers are no longer wearable. I was hungry and it was lunchtime and the fridge was empty and outside was not an option, so I ordered something. A salad. A beautiful, civilized, chopped salad that screamed I am a healthy mother who has it all together. And while I waited for that salad to arrive, I sat on the floor between two girls in various stages of undress. All three of us were mysteriously caked in Stage 2 Country Dinner (Beef, Carrots & Corn! Organic!). I sat there watching an infomercial on something called Slim in 6, mindlessly eating a box of stale pretzel sticks I found nearby. Only a few of them, it seems, had been previously sucked or chewed.
So when the salad came, I wasn't hungry. The next little bit was a blur. Before hoisting Toddler into her crib, I studied her impressive hair bow collection and thought to myself, She could share these. It's not that I care what people think. It's just that teaching kids to share is an important part of their development. And she has so many.
All together now. Yup.