I hoisted myself atop the monkey bars and looked down. Way down.
"Grow some balls and jump already," my husband Alex yelled.
I rolled my eyes and looked at my husband and 15-month-old daughter, Sophie, seemingly hundreds of feet below. It wasn't the height I was afraid of, it was the landing. When you're over 30 and have had a bad knee surgery, anything with a rough landing makes you want to spend your life floating across surfaces, not pounding them.
"Why do people always say that?" I yelled back. "Grow some balls? Balls are about the most delicate things on earth. If I even look at them the wrong way, you freak out."
"Because they're sensitive," Alex contended.
"Exactly. You know what people should say?" I hopped down and shook out my legs.
"People should say, 'Grow a vagina.' "
I had proof to back this statement up. Vaginas are the strongest things ever. I witnessed my child coming out of mine, which I can't un-see. Also, vaginas bleed for a week every fucking month without whining like a little baby, much unlike balls if they so much as get tapped by a pinky finger. And what do women do every month when it looks like a crime scene happens in our pants? We plug them up and keep going about our day. If balls bled every month, men would be incapacitated.
Furthermore, all human life comes from a vagina. They stretch and conform to whatever is coming at them or from them. Vaginas are the shit. Clearly.
As if to prove my point, Sophie drove her index finger into the soft fabric of my shorts — and right onto my vagina.
"See? She knows what's up," I said.
"But balls are what give vaginas their life force," Alex protested.
I scoffed as I hoisted Sophie into the bucket swing. "Vaginas take an internal pounding every time we have sex. Do you know what that's like? Sometimes you don't want something entering you or coming out of you. Sometimes vaginas just want to be left the hell alone."
"I can't believe Sophie has a vagina," he groaned.
I didn't even want to think about it. I pushed Sophie as she raised her arms in the air and wiggled her chubby fingers. What if she got pregnant when she was 15? How would I teach her to wipe properly? To take care of it? To prevent UTIs and yeast infections? To insert a tampon? Oh God, would I have to show her how to do that??
I thought about what I would teach my daughter about her own body. I wanted her to be proud of her vagina. I didn't want to call it a "wee-wee" or "giney" or "boo-boo" or whatever words parents use to mask what it is. I wanted her to declare, "Hi, I'm Sophie. I have a vagina. I am stronger than you."
I thought back to when she was first born, and how I'd watched the entire spectacle take place in the mirror set in front of me. After 52 hours of labor, I finally watched her head break the plane of my own anatomy. I watched as she went from concept to reality, from silently being carried in utero to mewling like a cat, all arms and wobbly legs and a head shaped like a Foster's can. When she was given to us, slimy and slightly blue, I remember how scared I had been of this awesome responsibility set before me — and especially of her vagina. Why? For the simple fact that her poop would end up getting inside of it, which could lead to a host of infections. Why didn't we cover that in birthing class?
Alex looked at me. "What in God's name are you thinking about? You're, like, pale."
"Just vaginas," I explained. "There's a lot of responsibility that comes with them. They need a fucking instruction manual."
"Maybe that should be your next book: How to Take Care of Your Vagina and Rule the World," he retorted.
"I think that might have already been written," I laughed.
"Don't be such a ball sack," Alex said.
I kissed his shoulder. "See? You're catching on already. We are starting a revolution."
He grabbed my hand, Sophie safely tucked into her Radio Flyer wagon behind us. "You and me against the world," he said.
"And all those vaginas."