It hit me while I was laying in bed one night, my baby girl doing what felt like cartwheels in my belly, my sleepy thoughts wandered until they landed on: uh, I’m going to be responsible for this little life in a matter of weeks. Maybe that should’ve sunk in earlier than 7 1/2 months pregnant, but y’know, everyone moves at their own pace. Initially responsibility brings to mind things like breastfeeding and colic and trying not to obsess too much over every little breath she takes. But after some time thinking (falling asleep is hard), I started to venture past the first few months of her life, on to the more substantial things that Jeremy and I will be responsible for as our little girl grows up and becomes her own person and woman. Boys and friendships and self-worth kind of stuff. While yes, our experiences teach us greatly, if we’re lucky, our first teachers are our parents. Through actions and those sit-down-and-listen-to-me-right-now talks, we learn how to navigate through life. In reality, my list of things I hope my daughter learns from me is far more extensive and maybe a little neurotic, but these are the ones I hold most important and pray over her daily, already.
1. That being a girl doesn’t make her less. It’s pretty surreal that in 2014, this is something we need to cultivate in our daughters, but I think it’s true. And not just because “the man” is keeping us down. We as fellow women and girls keep each other down (this video that’s been making the social media rounds kills me, that girls were their own worst critics). I want her to grow up knowing she’s so much more than what she looks like on the outside. That she deserves to be treated as an equal to everyone around her, no matter their gender or race or opinions. And I hope when she’s older, she finds girlfriends that believe that same thing, and they build each other up and remind each other to live this way. I like to believe there’s a time coming when the disenfranchisement of women is a memory, and that my girl will be a part of that revolution. [is my inner-feminist showing?]
2. To like herself. Oh dear, I hope she learns this one earlier than her mama did. I loftily hope she never loses the confidence she has at 8, when she can do anything and be anyone. I hope she knows she’s funny and witty and smart because we remind her daily, and that she never feels “bad” for thinking so. I hope the petty meanness of other girls in school somehow doesn’t get in and completely rob her of the ability to think she is super great. I hope and pray she gets out of high school with her identity intact, head held high, headed for bigger and better things. And that I’m right there next to her, cheering her on, and helping equip her for when people and circumstances attempt to take the rug out from under her. I hope maybe the fact that her mama kind of likes herself rubs off.
3. The less consumed you are with what others think about you, the greater your quality of life becomes. I used to struggle with crippling insecurity. The kind that causes you to skip out on social events because you couldn’t handle the pressure of worrying what everyone in the room was thinking about you. Oh, the time I spend praying my girl never even knows what that feels like. I feel like this one goes hand in hand with #2, I hope she learns to like herself so that what the people around her are thinking isn’t something she really spends time on. I want to teach her to give the opinions of others the appropriate weight, to value the opinions of those close to her, and to be able to shrug off the rest.
I also hope she learns how to change a flat, that boyfriends will come and go, how to properly win a dance off (she’ll get that one from me), & a long list of other things. But I kind of think a lot of them fall into these three bigger teaching points. That maybe if she can grow up with a grasp on these, life will be a little less hard.