I'm currently raising two future adults. Otto is a boy, which comes with its set of issues, worries, thoughts, and whatever. Loretta is a girl, which comes with its own (I'll admit it, scarier) set of issues, worries, thoughts, and whatever. On top of that they're each super unique individuals. They have their own awesome qualities that blow my mind with their awesomeness. They have their own other qualities that I can only predict will be challenges for them in their lives - and I get to help them explore their awesomeness and learn strength and patience and coping skills and goodness and things like that to overcome hurdles in their lives both internal and external. The point of that little ramble is just to say that I know I'm lucky, and I know I have an important job on my hands, and I take it freaking seriously.
I will always tell Loretta she is beautiful.
A Verizon commercial has been making the rounds recently that got me upset and I couldn't put my finger on why. I guess I like the spirit of this commercial which is, "Don't send the message to your daughters that their hair and clothes are more important than their sense of inquisitiveness." But it felt trite. There, I said it. I want Loretta to be confident in her mind, her strength, and her looks. We're animals, all of us, and when puberty kicks in my daughter's hormones are going to take over her brain and I want her to have a strong foundation to draw on to get her through those years: body, mind, and spirit.
That means more than just blabbering about how pretty she is all day long. It means owning my own beauty. It means honoring the beauty of others in all shapes and sizes. It means a lot of things. Because who knows what Loretta's insecurities will be. Right now she has NONE and that inspires me every day to be bolder, braver, more badass, more myself. When the time comes, I'll be there to help her hold on to that amazing boldness and confidence that are so inherent to her and so beautiful.
I was in a really serious bicycle accident as a child and had a huge, ruddy head scar that glowed in the dark as far as I was concerned. That made me feel like a monster for most of my childhood. I had and if I'm honest, still have, weight issues. I loathe my snaggle-tooth my teeth. My daughter doesn't need to hear about my insecurities. When she's old enough though, I'll talk to her about them honestly. Because hearing that what she may be feeling about her appearance is something all young women go through, and hearing how I overcame my insecurities and learned to really love myself, will help her find that inside voice that says, "this is OK, you're OK, you're amazing in fact."
Loretta loves sparkles, and dress up, and princess crap in a way that I can't even relate to and that's awesome. She also loves smashing mud into her hair and building train tracks and dancing and danger and that's awesome. She can have it all. She gets to inherit the whole world.
The world right now is a little bit garbage though and that makes the tiger mom in me want to come out swinging. And then I don't know what to do about it. I'm frustrated. What can I do? What can we, as adults, do to help shape the world for our kids? Beyond just setting an example in our homes... Beyond teaching sympathy and instilling a love of critical thinking and problem solving and respect... So that our daughters don't have to fight so hard for their basic rights? I don't know the answer. Society is going to have to change. We can change it at home, in all our homes, from the ground up. But we can also change it on the whole, at the governmental level, from the top down. But we will need to make a stink to do that. Me writing this post isn't a stink. Grumbling on Facebook isn't a stink. We'll need to push the change-makers to do some big things and not let bullshit, like the Hobby Lobby ruling, be legal. Because I think we all must know that what happened is illegal. Don't we? It's got to be illegal for my boss' religion to dictate my access to basic health care. Doesn't my religion trump my boss'? It should.
I never thought of myself as a feminist until fairly recently. I co-started a book club for women and women's issues has become something we're talking about every week and it's crazy that the issues keep piling up, keep coming, we never lack for something to talk about. Inequality in the workplace is real. You read about it, you read scientific studies about it, and then you live it. Girls have it different from boys. That will never change no matter how fair the world gets. We're wired differently. Our brains work differently. And the world was built by men, pretty much for men, not necessarily because they were trying to keep women down but because they were in charge and they were building things the man way. And now we all realize women are people too and so the way the world was built needs to be renovated. The people who can't let go of the status quo, and who are fighting FOR inequality, are eventually going to go down in history as the shitbags who slowed down progress. And as the mother to a couple of future adults, I'm going to do what I can at home and as a voice in this big world, to make sure those shitbags get canonized as assholes as quickly as possible.
Loretta is going to have it hard. I hope she always knows that she's powerful. Her voice matters. She's beautiful. She's smart. She's amazing. I hope she has passions so strong she follows them around the world. I hope she becomes the drummer in a band, or a chemical engineer, or the President of the United States, or a painter, or an accountant, or a mom, or a combination of any of those things. I hope she knows joy and is strong and learns great lessons when things get tough. I hope we stay close forever. And I hope I make her as proud as I know she will someday make me.
Forgive this post for its rambling. I said about 1% of the things I thought I might say. This topic is too big and too important. But when things are too big and too important, it's easy to not do a thing about them because they seem immovable. But this isn't immovable. I'm excited to see how much better things will be by the time our sons and daughters inherit the world. And the harder we work and the louder we are about it, the better it will be for them, and then they can make it better still. And the only terrible thing we can do is turn our backs on these issues and pretend everything's great. It can be and will be, we just need to get there.