Recently, the hub and I found out that baby #2 is a girl. Up until then, we’d been saying we win either way – a girl meant we don’t have anything to buy, that we know the plot, that baby #1 will have a fun shadow to teach/torture/tease and a boy meant we could be done with the whole pregnancy thing.
Now that I know, that statement was actually incongruous with how I feel.
Getting another girl isn’t a consolation prize for me. This is quite possibly what I was meant to do with my life – raise daughters.
I can remember when I was young, I would opine that I’d want five boys because girls were just too much trouble. Back then, that was my experience. Girls WERE trouble. Girls made my life miserable. Boys were often dimwits, horndogs or annoyances. Girls? Girls were dangerous.
Girls spread rumors and played psychological games. Girls wielded friendship like Uzies. Girls were catty and fickle and passive aggressive. A few standout exceptions aside, it was a world removed from the homogeneous, isolationist Middle where I found a different kind of woman. I finally understood that not all women need you to be low so they can be high.
Most of these lessons were hard-learned.
In middle school, it wasn’t my many awards or the intense, shortlived friendships that made me swell with pride – it was my leadership in a successful coup against the top mean girl.
In high school, my besties were fringe girls – the kind my parents were hesitant about – who listened to the Cure or Al B. Sure. No matter in what sport or art I dabbled, I was never ever included by popular girls.
In University, I deigned to pledge a sorority. Parties? Sports? Elected leadership? I couldn’t sign up fast enough. But the night before I went active, despite my rank as the pledge with highest points, I was very ceremonially dismissed. I can only point to my tenuously composed diatribe of curses to the sanctimonious president and her wholly unconvincing panel of henchwomen before I exited that house and entered my life as both legend and outcast as a positive takeaway.
I’ve read several of the pop psych ‘biggies’ on this topic, from Reviving Ophelia and Please Stop Laughing At Me to Mean Girls Grown Up. The stories were so familiar to me that it helped to contextualize my experience as common and not the wholly unusual, even abnormal, one my own family believed it to be.
Through several decades of harsh introspection and the odd evening of alcohol consumption even Hemmingway would envy, I learned to stop accepting and start liking myself. Someday I will write a book about spiritual inheritance and the wastefulness of shame, the value of self-esteem, and the most important gifts a woman can bequeath another – her offspring or otherwise.
Whether by chance or Karmic justice, I have now a collection of women who are sisters in everything but DNA. These women are proof enough to me that there is divinity inside us and that friendship isn’t a gauntlet to be run.
I unwittingly participated in much of my own suffering for fear of exclusion, unfortunate prioritization, or simply not having confidence in my own person, my own voice.
My daughters will suffer that same fate over my dead body.
I have no doubt that each will encounter situations I can’t foresee or forestall. I have no doubt that each will wield a personality wholly unique to mine and values completely foreign to me. I can only hope to prepare them to defend themselves and their ground with wit, charm, and defiance.
Even against me.
No, I’ve no need to “keep trying for a boy.” I have everything I need – a hub (in whom feminism thrives), a daughter (with a fiery Leo mane and spirit to match), and a mystery making its way to me as we speak.
If I do nothing else in my life, I will honor my daughters with honesty, empower them with tools to navigate their own path, and respect their gifts whether I understand them or not.
Throughout my time with them, I hope to show them how to pursue and embrace happiness.
The Buddha says that all life is suffering. I think many of us in America, especially those raised Christian, have a flawed sense of injustice if our life includes suffering. Suffering isn’t punishment. It isn’t unique to any of us. It is a universal truth of humanity – a thing that binds us as sisters and brothers.
The quality of your life is defined by how you roll with the punches. You can lay yourself out if you aren’t bobbing and weaving in time. I’ve never met a soul who wasn’t sucker punched once.
So I’ll teach my girls how to get back up, how to dust themselves off, how to get back after it.
And I’ll teach them to love being a woman.
And I’ll teach them to be women who love.
And I’ll learn from them my legacy.