April 14, 2015

What My 6-year-old & a Pin-up Artist Taught me about Love.

parking lot

I wasn’t born a woman.

I sort of stretched myself into one, slowly, and with great concentration.

I read Sassy magazine and watched how my mother curled her hair and put on black eyeliner at red lights. I cried when I first got underarm hair. It felt so scary and uncontrollable to me. What did this mean, this inevitable coming of age? Who was I becoming? Would I like her?

Becoming a mother was a different kind of experience.

Everything was flawless and automatic, like an ancient dance that was pre-recorded somewhere within me. When I gave birth, the angels pressed play and this sacred moving began. With a look or a sound, fierce and tender knew just when to step. Grace filled the spaces of the unfamiliar.

I’d never known so much without knowing anything.

Now that a few years have passed, the instinct of being a mother is just as strong, though it has grown into new forms.

My son is six and my daughter is four.

Some days, they are brilliant balls of light, bopping around our home to their own playful rhythms. Other times, they cling to my hand and stare up at me with wide, searching eyes. I see their hunger to make sense of this world, and especially, to know their place in it.

It’s in these cosmic windows that I pause. Time stands still and I simply behold the wisdom that pours from the other side.

I had a moment like this recently.

I was at a hair salon with both children and discovered a gorgeous collection of sketches in a book by Alberto Vargas, a famous pin-up artist.

For several moments, I was lost in the women’s bold curves and their bright, piercing eyes. Later, as I went to pay, I spotted my son leaning into the same glossy book and lifting the cover open with great care, only halfway, as if a great secret would spill out of it. His eyes grew big and his face froze in wonder.

As we walked out of the shop, he moved shyly along the edge of the sidewalk. I was mesmerized by the newness I felt in him, as if something bigger than he could fit within his six-year-old world had arrived and started rearranging things. He was held in a place of wanting to share but wasn’t sure if it was safe.

As much as I loved stretching out the juicy innocence of the moment as long as possible, I decided to invite myself in.

It went something like this:

“So how did you like the book in the hair salon?”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“What kinds of things did you see?”

No comment.

“Did you think the women inside were beautiful?”

He nodded and shrugged again, but I could feel his words were just around the corner.

I reached for his hand to bring him closer to me. He silently shared of his curiosity and the enchanting effect the women had on him. He wondered if he did something wrong by peeping into a grown-up-only zone. The purity of his discovery was worthy of a thoughtful, measured response.

I didn’t have one of those. I had a glorious sunset instead.

All of the cars in the parking lot sort of blurred away against the sight of the early evening sky. It was fluorescent and shouted to me all the answers I wanted for this beautiful little boy.

“Do you see those colors in the sky?”

He did.

“When we look at the beauty of the light and the clouds, it makes us feel warm and happy. That’s just like a woman. We were created for beauty, with our bodies and our hearts. We make people feel love when we know that we’re beautiful like this sunset.”

He looked into me with his old soul eyes. This was one of those moments when the angels pressed play.

“I so love you, little man.”

Neither of us ended up speaking much for the rest of the night, at least not with words. We discovered a new language of love, inspired by an artist’s black pen and a cascading night sky.


Relephant Read:

The Good Mother.


Author: Tiffany Josephs

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: courtesy of the author, flickr


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Tiffany Josephs