From the moment the very faint positive line appeared on the pregnancy test, I knew in my heart that I wanted this baby to be a girl. Mostly, this was for selfish reasons. I am the lone female in our home and I love the idea of raising a girl. But, I am also terrified of having a girl. The world will be much kinder and more accepting of my son – he has the privilege of being born a white male in America. My daughter will have half of this privilege, but will often be told she can’t do simply because she is female. How do I raise a daughter to be strong in a world that commands she be weak and mild? How do I teach her to trust and love others while also teaching her to guard her heart and trust from those with bad intentions?
When I first found out Baby AJ 2.0 was going to be Baby Girl, I text my brother (among a million others) to share the news. His response almost made me cry (had I not been sitting in a car with my company’s CEO, I likely would have) – “Outstanding. I cannot think of a better momma for a baby girl than you sister.”
Wow. Talk about a heavy compliment and a lot to live up to.
Since that day I’ve thought a lot about Baby Girl and how I can be the mama to her that my twin brother believes I can be. So, far these are the promises I hope to keep and the lessons I hope she learns …
Your big brother is pretty awesome and he amazes us every single day and I have no doubt that you will do the same. I promise to never compare him to you and vice versa, but know that anything he can do, you can do (except pee standing up, please don’t try this). But, know that you can do anything you want to and know that we are always in your corner cheering you on. Sometimes you may have to work harder than he does, but that work will be worth it in the end. Some things may come easier. Sometimes, you may not want to do what he does and that is okay too. You are your own person and you are capable of anything you put your mind to.
One day, someone will tell you that you are not good enough (or pretty enough or smart enough or thin enough or whatever enough), but know that you are more than enough. This world can be an asshole and people suck. Society will make unreasonable demands that will make you want to change who you are to fit it. I always tried to rise above this, but sometimes I failed. You will too and that is okay. Some jerk will say something mean and you’ll cry yourself to sleep or punch a wall or break your favorite music box (sorry Dad) because the pain and emotions are so strong and raw you don’t know how to channel them. This too is okay. And I know you won’t always want to talk to me or hear what I have to say, but I promise that no matter the question or circumstance, I am here when you need me and when you are ready.
You will find yourself in situations that are out of your comfort zone – for the good and for the bad – more times that you’ll be able to count or remember. People who call themselves your friends will pressure you into things you may not be ready for. Always, always trust your gut because I guarantee you another friend is watching and is just as scared to speak up or say no as you are. Never be afraid to use your voice and never be ashamed if you aren’t able to find it. My job as your mom is to help you find that voice and that voice can only come with experience and mistakes. You will make mistakes and that is okay. It never gets easier, but you learn and get stronger with every one.
I promise that no matter how many mistakes you make or how many times you fail that I am still going to be there cheering you on. I know people take issue with the whole participation trophy culture, but for me, participating is half the battle and trying and working hard are the rest. Sure, winning is great, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize the hard work we put in even if we don’t win. And, Baby Girl, you won’t win them all and that is okay. It’s okay to finish second and it’s okay to come in last. It’s better to walk away with a lesson learned and the knowledge that you busted your ass than to walk away with a first place prize that came easy. As a girl, you will have to fight harder, study harder and prove yourself a million times over just to have a chance to play the game. But, that makes us stronger.
More than anything. I want you to know and feel the love I did when I was growing up. I want you to experience the things I did not get to (among them, being Daddy’s little girl) and I want you to be unafraid of change and rejection. Those fears prevented me from trying new things or getting to know people. It’s hard to push aside fear, but it’s my job to push you past that and I will try my best to not let my own fears get in your way. You will get hurt. You will cry. You will push me away someday. But, I’ll kiss all the ouchies I can. I’ll dry your tears. And I will welcome you home with open arms.
In about 14-16 years, you will start to hate me, mostly for brief periods of time and for really dumb reasons (sorry, I know they are dumb because I had those same reasons a long, long time ago). I am going to mentally prepare myself for that now … yeah, not ready. We’ll talk about that in a few more years.
This growing up shit is hard, but we all go through it and most of us survive with a few stories to tell. I promise to help make those stories as interesting as possible.