Not Butterfly or Grizzly, but Woman

Musings from a "Mama Grizzly."

My outlook on the world has morphed from sunny, sensual and carefree to grim, standoffish and protective in the span of less than two years, and all I can attribute it to is my transformation from sexy singleton to fierce mother. I hate to credit Sarah Palin with anything, but her term, “Mama Grizzly,” pretty much sums up who I am now. 

I find myself walking around thinking “Go F yourself” and “Stay clear of my baby,” and I used to flit through life like a butterfly, blindly and blithely bumping into everything with a grin on my face.

I really miss that girl sometimes.

I still see glimpses of her in the mirror, usually after I’ve actually done my hair and makeup and I’m wearing something boho and fun, or on a good night, when my husband and I have had time to flirt and giggle and love, and my eyes glow in the dim light of our bathroom as I smooth my wild tangle of hair into a bedtime tail.

I don’t miss the revolving door of unsuitable suitors who plagued me for a decade, the dissatisfied dashing from job to job, project to project, bar to party to bar because I was afraid to sit still, or the nameless void that haunted me during the rare quiet times.

All of that longing and restlessness ended when I met my husband at 30 and gave birth to our son at 31. Thank goodness for that.

But thank goodness I captured that crazy girl I used to be in the poetry book I wrote during that time, while I was earning my master of fine arts degree in creative writing.

Of course, it has never been published in its entirety, though some individual poems have, and some of them now make me cringe, but they are definitely a snapshot of my soul during my volatile 20s.  

They also make me laugh, especially in light of my new mommy fierceness.

Take, for example, one of my first published poems, “Cicada Song.” The brief poem captures a moment during a summer fling, with lots of sexy “s” sounds: flesh, yes, lust. I guess at the time, the sound of cicadas made me long for the summer love affair I never had--well, at least not one that meant anything.

In this year of the red-eyed aliens, I have mixed feelings. The sound I once related to summer bliss is so loud that I can’t carry on a conversation outdoors. They flit around the tall oaks in our yard like the moths in The Silence of the Lambs, and it makes me think of Ted Levine dancing around in a kimono and smearing lipstick on his loose mouth.

But they also have their magical qualities.

I took my son outside one afternoon and stood beneath the tallest oak in our front yard to watch them shimmer madly from the base to the leaves, their husks left behind in a pile in the grass. I whispered that he’d be 14 years old the next time the cicadas emerge from the ground, and life will be very different, but I will love him just as much, if not even more, even if he doesn’t like me when he’s a gangly teen and I’m his goofy mom.

A cicada landed on his hand, and he gazed at it without fear. My first instinct was to flick it off like some kind of bugaphobe fanatic, but I let it rest there for a moment, until it flew away on its own.

My baby looked into my eyes with an old man’s wisdom and rubbed his nose on my shoulder, his little arms around my neck, and I felt whole and wonderful, not like a butterfly or a grizzly, but a woman.


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