Sunday, January 28, 2018

Little Women

Raising daughters is deliciously complicated. I welcome the challenge. I lean into the difficult. I relish and lap up every chance to try and get something right. There is so much on the line. There are big conversations to be had. I am honoured daily with the task of raising and shaping four whole, growing girls who will become women. Humbled, really. Whenever I read a story about #metoo or #timesup, I apply the message to a girl I can imagine as my daughter in her future, which is what we're supposed to do, I think. This kind of thought, when it enters my mind at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday, can take me reeling on a mystery tour of my mind's contents, shook out on the floor like an upside-down purse. 

Squirrel visitor after snowfall
My mind moves faster than my logic brain, rushing into a whirling frenzy of worry, despair, wonder, fear. How am I to ever equip these girls for this world that can sometimes be so hard for women to live in? There are beautiful perks to being a woman, not least of which the power to bring forth life. With the heavy weight come the soaring possibilities. With the difficult truths come the power of all that is feminine. (I'm in a real #girlpower mood tonight, cantcha tell?). When the heavy burden of responsibility is all that is left standing at the end of these episodes, I feel a bit silly. Rome wasn't built in a day and, thankfully, parenting is incremental.

A little girl turns nine this week!
My job is a mighty responsibility, to be sure, but the only way I'm going to be able to handle this monumental task is one conversation at a time. When Abby was figuring out what it meant to be a girl in preschool, I understood this would set the stage. We talked about what girls can do, what makes us different, and what it feels like sometimes. As a three-year-old, these differences were subtle. As she has grown, these differences and feelings have been sometimes inconsistent with the messages my generation grew up understanding. This is progress. This week, she turns nine. We have had big conversations about what our bodies can do and how hers will change in the coming years. We have read about different women in history who have gone against the grain to live their truth and change the world.

Thank you cards
I think my job lies in these talks. The girls watch my face for cues on how to react to the newscast about a domestic assault verdict. They tell me stories, through giggles, about who they might marry and what they will do when they grow up. There are no wrong answers, (I'll correct them when they're older about plans to marry my sister's boyfriend). I love to sit with Abby on her bed at night and help her unpack her concerns one by one, framing them in reminders about how it's okay to be sensitive, exactly as she is. This is the work I love best.

I will keep learning more, updating my advice bank, listening to hear their words to me as we grow together, them as little women and me as their mother. There are the tough conversations we will have when they are older about what it can mean to be a woman, what precautions we take, the ways we might protect ourselves from those who would harm or hurt us for our gender, knowingly or otherwise. Tonight, I will take a step back from that ledge, kiss my sleeping girls' heads once more, thankful that I have front-row seats to the greatest wonder on earth.

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