#BOAW: How a Boy Sees the Beauty of a Woman

photo credit: #10/366 The Giving of Flowers via photopin (license)

Sometimes a dude talks to a woman just to talk to a woman.

beauty codeHonest. I watched the kids on the playground with a mom years ago. Idle talk. How old’s yours? That’s a fun age. Yeah. Mine’s older. That’s her. Yeah, the one hanging by her toes and singing P!nk songs. Sure, I’m proud – and surprised.

It was an AC/DC day this morning.

My toe hanger manager to sneak off the bars and ambled to my elbow. She stood breathless, hands on hips, like an Olympian waiting for the judges’ reaction to that. She sized up the young mom at my side.

“Gee dad,” she proclaimed as she galloped back to havoc.

“You have tons of girlfriends. Gabi, Shelley, Kesha …” Thanks, kid. Never mind that Gabi’s a 2004 Pontiac Grand-Am. Or that Shelley’s my sugar-voiced GPS. And that Kesha’s just one of my musical crushes. So are Diana Krall and Basia. Jules Day and Norah Jones.

Beauty of a woman

It’s also Cher Lloyd and Ingrid Michaelson.

It’s a wide range. That’s the beauty of a woman. (Bloggers everywhere will examine the beauty of a woman today. Check out more work here, and look for the hashtag #BOAW.) Boys learn this in increments.

If you learn it right, it might begin with Judy Jetson and Cinderella.

You graduate to your kindergarten teacher’s aide and Brooke Shields. It evolves into prom dates and the women we’ll marry and our one day daughters. As long as you draw breath, it grows.

When you’re 4 …

The beauty of a woman begins with mom, the day you were born. It’s on Snoopy sheets and bedtime stories. It’s the warmth of home and security of love. It’s your favorite colors on your birthday cake. Mom’s is the first beauty in a woman you’ll experience.

When you’re 11 …

The beauty of a woman is in a teacher who believes in you. It’s in the little sister you’ll pick on and tease, and will always stick up for. You’ll even throw crab apples at bullies. It’s the way your pulse races when your crush sits next to you in a reading circle.

If your knees touch, it’s magic.

It’s with your first girlfriends

You find it with the first girl you kiss. When you ask the boys at lunch who’ve been there, and some who haven’t, ‘how does this work?”’ It’s there when you dig a girl enough to ask her to be your girlfriend.

It’s there when you can’t understand why she breaks up with you the same day.

It’s learning that a teenager should spend his recess with his arm around his girl. Not playing football. Girls mystify. For years and years …

me teen
Teenage me. I had lots of hair.

Even when you’re 19 …

It’s an art appreciation teacher with wavy hair in a hippie skirt. You’d wind up in an art museum on a Saturday afternoon for extra credit. Also just so you could hear her speak about art. It’s sneaking into a concert for a glimpse of your favorite soulful jazz singer.

It’s finding yourself under the spotlight as she sings to you and holds your hand.

That’s the beauty of a woman you notice at age 19. It’s that rush you remember 5 years ago when the swimsuit issue arrived. It’s different, though. It’s lingering on the eyes for reasons you can’t understand.

Proposals and births

By the time you’re 26 …

You recognize the beauty in a woman’s eyes and it compels you to kneel and propose. You hear it in your first-born daughter’s cries. They’re so overwhelming you cover your mouth with both hands the moment she’s born.

It’s there as your baby’s cries subside.

It’s there when her tiny hands find your finger and your familiar voice soothes her. It’s seeing her mother’s beauty in her. It happens with a second daughter born just as your world seems to crumble around you. Your heart expands with the rebirth.

The beauty of a woman, by age 32 …

It’s in the nurses’ work at Duke Hospital, where your dad gets treatment for leukemia. In the women who let you stay beyond visiting hours. It’s the nurse who, after you decide to turn off life support, returns to shave his face one last time – with tears in her eyes.


It’s in the daughter, born three months after dad dies.

In light of my heart

It’s that daughter’s blue skin after birth when she isn’t breathing, which comes alive in healthy pink in an instant. It’s in her mother’s fight through complications. It’s in the light a brown-eyed baby can bring to a man’s darkened heart.

It shines so bright for a man lucky enough to welcome a third daughter into this world.

It shines brighter as she grows and thrives and loves … even as he reaches 40. A man’s eyes will falter and crow’s feet will wrinkle his face. He still sees the beauty of a woman, though. It’s on the soccer field when his girls fight through adversity and doubt.

My gift in a time of darkness.

It’s there through injury and first goals and championships and heartbreak.

He sees it as they hook their soul on the pride of team. It’s clear to him with wins and losses, goals and gaffes, ebbs and flows. It’s a goalkeeper with head held high and tears flowing after a state playoff loss.

It’s about women writers who support his work and comment and share the love.

It’s in kids, not even his own, who brighten his soul with their smiles on the field. It covers the expanse of time and the fissures between it. It’s as grand as Amelia Earhart’s courage and as minute as a passing smile.

It’s rich and it’s true. It’s in the women we adore or the child who calls you out on your widespread adoration.

Sometimes, a dude just talks to a woman. He can see the beauty of her, everywhere.

women quote

87 thoughts on “#BOAW: How a Boy Sees the Beauty of a Woman

  1. Eli, I guess you’re of the school of thought which argues that men and women can be friends. I agree personally but do keep my boundaries. Best wishes,

  2. I’ve loved talking to women since I was three I think. I’m not bashful when it comes to talking to anyone. One can be seen as a dirty old man at this stage of life but I have such a glib tongue that I haven’t offended anyone yet. I actually love talking to elderly ladies, they’re cool. I just have to say, I love women.

  3. Aaawww, the corners of my mouth went form a broad smile about Gabi, Shelley and the kindergarten teacher’s assistant to near tears about the nurse at your Dad’s hospital. I know, technically corners of a regular mouth don’t fill with tears. You still get it, though. After all you know women.
    Wonderful post! 💖

  4. Welp, you’ve done it again. You’ve gone and made me cry with your beautiful words. I’m glad there are men like you who can see the whole package, inside and out.

      1. Don’t worry – there are plenty other posts where we laugh so hard we snort or sputter soda through noses…

        Now I want a soda. Oooh, I’ll hold out. My husband is making brownies.

  5. I have tears in my eyes, Eli. Your words are beautiful. Thank you so much for this.

    And–I completely agree with you. Friendship is always the foundation between men and women. Well said.

    1. Thank you so much, Kate. I know a guy taking a stab at this wouldn’t be too common, but as a dad of three girls, coach of girls soccer and a man who identifies more with mom bloggers than dads, I feel right at home.

      The whole friendship portion just kind of popped out of the comments today!

      And I have read your post twice. I love the opening and the story throughout! I’ll comment in the morning.

      Glad to have you here, Kate!

  6. This post is so amazing. I can’t wait to share it with my husband. I just know he’ll feel just like you do. Thank you for writing what many men feel but maybe don’t have the words to say. Bravo.

    1. Thanks so much Mina! And I’m honored that you’d want to share this with your husband. I’m sure he sees things much the same way I do.

      We see it, we’re mystified by it, and more than a little awed by it, Mina.

  7. I’m definitely looking at Des right now and wondering where he sees it. Probably me.. and his amazing daycare teacher. Oh yes.
    I love the evolution. It reminds me a lot of the beauty of a man. I noticed that real fast in life. Like.. real fast.

  8. I love the journey you took me on as a reader. I could see the women and understand what made them so beautiful in each of those precious moments. 🙂

  9. This was absolutely beautiful and humbling, Eli. Your daughters are so blessed to have a daddy in their life who has set the bar for applicant boyfriends and eventually husband.
    Thank you so much for this. Gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Michelle. It’s scary for a dad to consider himself a role model for his daughters for boyfriends and husbands.

      Glad you liked this Michelle, and thanks for being part of that community I’m so appreciative of.

  10. There are times when your visions and perceptions humble me and cut me off at the knees…in a very good way. The world needs to raise more people like you. Your insight and love of women has (I’m positive, though I’ve never met you or her) helped to build a strong, confident, formidable young woman in your daughter. You, my friend, are a good man.

  11. Beautiful. Read this on mamapedia, and I wanted to read it aloud to my co worker. I decided I wouldn’t be able to without crying. I’ll just email it 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Julie. Glad you wanted to share it. If this made you cry, never read any of my posts about the Broncos losing the Super Bowl. Oh wait, I’m the only one who cries over those!

      Thanks again.

  12. Oh, this post is breathtaking! I know my husband would echo so many of the same emotions if he had the words in him to write. Most of your readers are probably mom bloggers (am I right?) and I love reading your perspective. Thank you for linking up to the Spin Cycle!

    1. Thanks Ginny. I’ve been lucky. I’d say at least 80% of my readership is women, most of them, I’d estimate, are moms.

      When I started blogging, I thought I’d be writing for me. Boy was I wrong.

      So glad to be in the Spin Cycle again. Thanks for hosting, Ginny.

  13. It’s funny because except for mom I grew up in a house full of men and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out other women, but as I grow into midlife (a year ahead of you) and really only after I started blogging I’ve learned how special women friends can be. I am truly in awe of your talent as a writer Eli. This was beyond beautiful. I can only imagine how it would feel to have read words like this from my own father. You are such a gift to your girls.

    1. Women rock, Rena. I think it’s less talent for me as it is an ability to express myself. Thank you for your kind words!

      I’m not sure these words will mean much to my girls right now, or ever, but I hope that the way I treat them means something – even during times they might not understand what life throws at us.

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