A few years ago Greg and I were watching some old black and white movie on TCM about this lady who was very homely, backwards and repressed and for some reason ends up on a cruise and meets a guy and is somehow transformed into this beautiful, wonderful lady. That is seriously all I can remember about the movie, except for one strong impression I had while watching it.
After the lady came back from her cruise she had a party. She wore a simple but beautiful, floor length, full skirted black dress (which means it could have been charcoal or indigo or emerald or burgundy etc.) that swooshed like a fairy tail as she glided to the door to let in her guests. Her hair was pulled up in a lovely bunch at the back of her head, revealing her smooth, powdered face with it's soft, feminine features. Her voice was like a song. She smiled so kindly upon all her guests and made certain that they all felt comfortable. And as she made her way around the room, the pleasing rustle of her dress could be heard. Oh yeah, I already mentioned the swooshy dress.
For days after watching this movie I kept thinking about how lovely and feminine this woman was, and how feminine women in general were in those days. I started realizing how much I wish that I could be more like that. I suppose, to be realistic, I couldn't really wear dresses like that around our house. If I did, rather than that soothing woosh, you would be more likely to hear tearing as it snagged on the antennae of some remote control car, or swearing* when the baby yanked on it or wiped his salty, oily, crackery hands on it (the swearing wouldn't be coming from the baby. Or the dress). Our house is a great size for us and I love it, but it's not a palace and doesn't have rooms large enough that they can be glided across all gracefully like in that movie. So the dress and its accompanying sounds/motions are out.
We all know that there will be NO pulling of hair into lovely bunches for me for at least a few years. And my face is what it is. My kids love to comment on how very looooong and thin my face is, and I myself am aware of the crook at the bridge of my nose. Not exactly soft features, but they're the ones I came with so I won't fret over how they're keeping me from being my self proclaimed ideal. Let's move on to the things I CAN (or should be able to) change.
I can smile. I can smile and flutter my eyelashes a little bit more than is actually needed for the moistening of my eyeballs. I think if I don't exaggerate this too much it might actually look natural, like I really am just kind of lovely like that. I'm not quite sure what to do about the voice. Mine doesn't naturally sound like a song, or the babbling of a brook or whatever it's supposed to, despite David's flattery on that mom tag. I wonder if I could just speak in a slightly higher pitch. I might sound a bit more like Cinderella that way.
On to the really difficult part: personality. Now, before I start, so everyone knows, I like me. I think I'm fine. Still, I think I come across a bit more abrasive than I'd like. There are people I know who are the embodiment of kindness. You can always count on them to say something that makes the people around them feel comfortable and happy with themselves at the same time that they feel this person's kindness and grace. I love this. It's how I would like to be. Unfortunately, there's this little thing called sarcasm. Sarcasm just does NOT make girls seem ladylike. Unfortunately sarcasm and I seem to have been stuck together with some mystery super glue because I am unable to break away from it. And actually, now that I'm typing this, I think that is the main thing that I kind of wish I could swap. Sarcasm for sweetness. Unfortunately, I don't think I can. But I guess I can try to smooth down the rough edges of my sense of humor**.
I recognize that in our day it may be considered a bit sexist to talk about women's femininity and about how we are "the gentler sex," but I personally think that it's a good thing, and I would like to be gentler, if I could. I loved Evie's Primary teacher at church who would use the word "ladylike" when talking about how the girls were (or weren't) sitting or behaving. I loved it and started using the word myself, with her. Around this time 2 year-old David started running around the house calling, "Lady-Lite! Lady-Lite!" all the time.
This also reminds me of my mother's approach with her granddaughters. She has discussed with them the idea that God is our king (think Kingdom of God). We also know that we are His children. Daughter's of kings are princesses. That makes us all what? Princesses! Little girls like princesses. They want to be princesses. They know that princesses behave like ladies and it's a great motivator to young girls to remind them to "be like a princess." It's even greater when they realize that they actually ARE princesses and that our Father has taught us how to do it, with the help of a Prince.
So this is the kind of princess I want to be. The kind that is good, kind and true, who tries to follow the King's wishes and be gracious and loving and sweet to others. I also wouldn't mind being the kind that is pretty and graceful and has a swooshy dress (in charcoal, indigo, emerald or burgundy).
*I put this only for dramatic emphasis. I never swear. Okay, I might swear, but only if the dinner was burning, the phone was ringing, I had a headache and then the baby started tugging on my fancy dress with his yucky hands.
** I remember when I was talking with an important Church authority after a meeting and I said something totally sarcastic like, "Oh you're very something-don't remember what- I'm sure that's a real problem for you!" or something like that. Both he and his wife who was standing nearby laughed and were very kind about it, but I was slightly embarrassed right after I said it, and VERY embarrassed when I thought about it later on. I mean they totally understood that I was kidding, and they fully understood my sense of humor (we had spent some time with them previously) but to some people you just don't make remarks like that. Fortunately they have the kindness and sweetness that I lack and didn't show any surprise, but just made me feel like I was so funny.