I’m not sure if anyone realizes it, but Women’s History Month has been underway for quite a few days. Although, from the way things have been going lately, and your point of view, it looks like we might have started an Anti-Women’s history month. But that’s a big mess of worms that I’m not going to get into right now.
Since it is Women’s History Month, I decided to do an entry on women, even though I know how much women LOVE it when men write, say, or decide anything for them. So, instead of writing for all the women of the world, I’ll write about just one. I’m writing about my little girl, though it’s not the first time I’ve done so.
When I found out that I was going to have a daughter, I was thrilled and scared at the same time. My brain imagined a future scene of the two of us walking hand in hand through a field of dandelions, occasionally stopping to pluck one from the ground. Then I remembered all of the terrible things I’ve done to women over the years and it scared me to death. My daydream went up in flames. What if she encounters a man like the one I used to be? What if she gets bullied by men and looked down upon? What if she is told that she can’t do the things that her brother is asked to do? What if? What if? What if?
Someone had to have considered this question before me, so I retreated to libraries and bookstores to search for clues to raising a daughter. After a while, the words ran together and I still couldn’t find my answers. I turned to other parents for advice, but after hearing one woman say to me, “boys give wonderful moments of sunshine, but girls steal your beauty,” I decided to steer clear of advice. I would have to become the expert on raising my daughter. And here’s what I decided:
She was going to be unique and unbounded by character studies, journals, or comparisons to any other child that has ever walked this earth. My daughter was going to be a person who stood up for others and herself. She would never back down from anyone who opposed her. She would uphold her principles, faith, and mind at all times. She was going to be equally intelligent and artistic. Most importantly, she was going to be her own person and not fit the mold forced upon her.
She is five years old now and is in kindergarten. I wonder if that part about being “her own person” was a good move. Example: When my daughter was small, I didn’t want her playing with Barbie dolls because I was afraid it would introduce her into image issues early one, but the “girly” side to her won out. The body image thing is not what I should have been worried about, though, because when she plays with Barbies they usually just yell at each other (and the conversation does not revolve around how they look). They do get married to the princes, but then the other Barbies get mad at the wedding and a physical altercation occurs. Most of her dolls have a lot of war wounds.
Also, raising a girl that never backed down from anyone? Now that I have to live with the consequences, I realize that maybe I should have dialed that one down a bit. Because of complications from birth, she didn’t talk for the first two years of her life – making sounds was difficult for her. But boy is she vocal about her opinions now! Sometimes, I feel like my five year old is going on thirteen.
It also appears that my daughter is on her way to becoming a college freshman guy. Nobody loves a good fart joke as much as my daughter. Even my seven year old son tells her sometimes, “That’s inappropriate.” She comes up with the grossest comments and couldn’t care less that she has dirt caked to the sides of her face. And she does all of this while wearing princess dresses, high heels, and a tiara.
The truth is my daughter makes me laugh like nobody else. The laughter comes at the end of the day after I’ve put her to bed, because being in the moment can be frustrating. I’m probably depriving her of some joy in knowing that she makes me laugh so much. In church, she runs out the door and hides in the bathroom, only to reappear mysteriously later on during the service to say, “Daddy, I love you so much.” I’m constantly finding candy wrappers stashed in various places in her bedroom. Sometimes when she is doing her homework, she’ll change the directions and say in a stern voice, “This is what my teacher wants me to do,” even though it clearly isn’t. While she is supposed to be focused in her Taekwondo class, she looks over at me to blow a kiss before delivering knock out punches to the striking pads. She sings loudly at night just so her brother can’t fall asleep, then when I ask her to be quiet, she tells me that she is praising God and that He is superior to me. Her mind is a beautiful and wild place.
As I raise her, these moments of frustration need to be put into perspective, but I do a terrible job of that. She can drive me up the wall with her behavior (and does on occasion), but it’s exactly how I want her to behave when she’s older. I want her to play by her own rules (while following God’s rules). I want her to be comfortable in her own skin. If that includes wearing fancy dress and telling fart jokes, then so be it. I bet there’ll be an audience for that someday.
It is crazy for me to entertain the idea of what she’ll be when she grows up. She’s only five after all! But I can’t help but wonder – an artist, President, a veterinarian/police-officer/nail salon worker (her current aspiration)? Whatever it is, though, it will definitely be her decision. And if the men out there mess it up before she ARRIVES, look out! A butt-kicking, tiara wearing, intelligent, wild, feisty, energetic, driven girl is coming. If the road isn’t ready for her to travel down, she’ll take the road and make it hers. I’m excited to see the woman she’ll become. Hopefully, I won’t be one of those men that keep her from achieving her dreams. After all, it all starts with me.
Happy Women’s History Month little girl; now go read about Anne Hutchinson, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, August 26, 1920, and Sandra Day O’Connor.