It is International Day of the Girl. I was a girl once. A bossy-turned-shy, happy-turned-insecure, cooperative-turned-rebellious, confident-turned-scared young girl-turned-adolescent-turned-teenager. Although I turn 37 this week it has not been long since I moved into womanhood. There are still many days when I am little more than a three-year-old-in-disguise.
Boy do I feel for the girl who I was. When I am reminded to, I call her up and pat her back. I do my best to soothe her when she frightens and to love her through it all. I am still learning to accept her fully and unconditionally, and most of all I am working hard not to judge her when she is not ‘good’.
Four years ago I gave birth to a baby. I did not know the gender until the moment the doctor lifted Jackson up above my knees. Hallelujah! It was a boy. Phew. Double-phew. I was scared to become a mom but I was most frightened to be in the position of mothering a girl. I recall my own struggles as a girl as if it was yesterday, and my body tenses as I put myself back on the school bus at the age of eleven. The older boys were teasing me and I had no cool response. I simply laughed in discomfort. I wanted to disappear. I didn’t want any attention but I wanted to be the best at everything all at once. Middle school was a tough time for me. I was miserable. I had a knot in my stomach in the morning on my way to school. And I was one of the popular girls!
Has life become harder for our kids? Did our grandparents think this same thing? Does the female gender still struggle more and what role do our boys and men play in all of this? We will not forget or regret the past but it is damn well time to push on ahead and become a more cohesive team; as in the human race could be working together to celebrate and guide our girls, our boys, ourselves and eachother. Can we stop saying ‘girls will be girls’ and ‘boys will be boys’? Can we stop blaming society on the ways in which our children might be suffering? How about we tap into that age-old wisdom and intuition which tells us what is best regardless of what our neighbor / girlfriend / teacher might be doing?
The day may come when I have a daughter and I am not as afraid as I was four years ago. I have come to learn how to mother myself in a way that I never knew; to forgive myself, to love myself and to trust my intuition in a way that I hope my child can do when he is faced with the dark and stormy nights that come with this life.
To all of the girls out there who are feeling hopeless, afraid, less-than, and confused – don’t give up. It will all change. Love yourself like you are caring for a newborn baby. Push yourself to be real even if you don’t know who you are yet. Listen to others but remember that the people who make the biggest impact in the world are probably not like your friends. Be humble and by all means SPEAK UP!