5.01.2014

thoughts on raising a woman

So, perhaps you've heard. We're having a girl.

Next to "How are you feeling?" I most frequently fielded the question, "Do you know what you're having? Do you have an inkling?" I usually said no, but actually I did. Could have sworn it was a boy the whole time. I had dreams it was a boy. But I also had a dream it was a lizard. So, so much for dreams.

I was as floored as anyone when the technician did the awkward shot and revealed our baby's delicates. In a moment, everything changed.

Yes, I know biological sex shouldn't be so central to a person's identity. I know all about how gender is just a social construct formed within a largely patriarchal society. But who are we fooling? Knowing I'm having a girl made this experience suddenly very, very real. "It" became a "she," and a flood of images and ideas came along with that pronoun.



I drove around running errands afterwards and found myself looking at all the different kinds of women there are. I wondered, which one will she be? Will she be that kid smoking on the hood of a car outside a 7-Eleven? Is she the Rite Aid clerk with the helpful smile? Sweet heavens, will she be like me? I could feel myself getting overwhelmed.

Maybe you moms of daughters (or even fathers of sons) can correct me, but upon learning the sex, I suddenly felt the weight of teaching my child how to be a woman in this world. I mean, where else will she learn it? I don't want the media or Hollywood telling her. Even some of the traditional ideals of femininity within the Church need to be tempered. As the same sex parent, it's my job. I suddenly felt woefully inadequate, because at 36, I'm just barely getting this feminine thing down.

I'm not a girly-girl, but I've grown out of that stage where I want to be "one of the guys." I'm just me, whether it falls in line with feminine gender identity or not. So, I feel strange when I log on to Pinterest, search for "baby girl" and see an onslaught of tutus, tiaras, pearls, lace, and bows. I think it's cute and I'm sure some of that will make it into her closet, but I don't think that's all there is to being a girl. Life is not an endless tea party.... unless, of course, you're the Mad Hatter, and then you've got other issues.

Any way, I over-thought this for days. Then I came across this pin.



I can testify that this is true of my life. I know these kinds of women, and I'm lucky to call them family and friends. Singers, entrepreneurs, leaders in ministry, comedians, artists, photographers, writers, PhDs, television producers... yeesh, the list goes on. They make outfits and costumes. They ride Harleys. They run households and their own businesses. They've been through soul-crushing heartbreak and come through the other side strong. They make something out of nothing every day.

Every last one is talented, interesting, and brilliant. They're amazing women, and if a person can be reflected in the company she keeps, then maybe I'm amazing too. And then maybe I could raise an amazing woman.

So, I feel better now. My kid just needs half of the awesome that I see everyday in my relationships with other women. If I can supply the other half, then she'll be just fine.

~jennifer +1

1 comment:

  1. There's definitely more to raising a girl than buying in to all the "princess" stuff. I have purposely tried to avoid clothing with words like "princess," or "diva." Whenever I compliment Cadie I use a variety of attributes, such as "you are kind... you are smart.... you are funny.... you are beautiful....you are the best kid in the whole world..." A girls soul needs to be fed on more than "you're so pretty"- the message that physical attributes are the most important part of her life is NOT what I want her to grow up with. And one more mother tip- be yourself! Be yourself as a mom, and that will feel natural. Let her see your humor, and let your outlook on life influence her world. She will grow up to have her own personality and her own way of looking at things, but you are in a unique place to influence her values system of what being a woman means- it's an awesome responsibility! My daughter is spicy, rough and tumble, never sits still all prim and proper, but is also kind and good to people, and is being raised to think for herself and collaborate with others, but not to blindly follow. Hmmmm... sounds a lot like her mother! :) You will be an awesome mom, Jen!

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