Earlier today, Darrell sent me a rather horrifying (and graphic) article he stumbled upon on Jezebel. Yes my husband is quite the feminist, and he reads Jezebel. Here is the article, if you feel so inclined. His only comment to me was "this is why I'm terrified to have a girl." Not that he in any way expects our daughter to be like THAT girl, but I understand where he's coming from. It's tough to be a girl these days - especially when the pool is already filled with people like her; girls who don't exactly represent the best of their kind, but certainly seem to be shoved in your face often enough.
I could've let it freak me out, and just wondered how there could be any hope for Claire to rise higher than that. But then I realized: this is our charge in having a daughter. The world is somehow in need of great women. Not that we don't already have some! Hilary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and Jennifer Lawrence all come to mind fairly easily. But for every Oprah there's a Kardashian (or seven) and for every Kristen Gillibrand, a Courtney Stodden. Our job, as parents, is to teach her which of these women to direct her attention to, and what to take away from their examples. More importantly, my biggest job is to BE an example. So although she's not even born yet, and for years won't think of much beyond when I'll be feeding her next, how many times I'll let her re-watch the latest Disney movie, and what Santa is going to bring her, here are the things I'm already hoping she'll learn from me & Darrell. I realize this list is rather lengthy and my expectations are high, but the world is in need of really excellent women, and these are my hopes for raising one.
I hope that we can teach her.....
to see the wonder in reading, more than the mindlessness of absorbing a television show, and find herself and her friends in every book I give her. I hope she'll learn that it's okay to be a dreamer like Anne of Green Gables, as hopeful as Sarah Crewe, and as smart as Hermione Granger. The world certainly needs more Hermiones.
to be happy with her body, not as a result of starving herself to "thin enough" but from teaching her about how eating healthy can be wonderful, but so can the occasional cupcake. Especially if said cupcake is eaten on the same day a long walk is taken.
that being pretty isn't a preclusion to being kind. I want her to know that she can be beautiful, but that the attention that comes with being beautiful should only ever be used for good - no matter how much easier it seems to be the "mean girl," especially when you're in 7th grade.
that what goes on the internet will be there forever. Period.
what the world really looks like. It is eye opening to travel, and see places that you only ever saw in photos and books. I want to take her abroad from the earliest age I think she'll possibly absorb it, because seeing those people - the ones you basically write off as imaginary until you see them living, breathing, caring about their lives just as much as you do yours - makes anyone a more compassionate and aware person.
that no, I won't be surprised or disappointed in her if she goes to a party, drinks some cheap beer, and someday dates a boy her father and I don't approve of. In fact, I'd like to teach her just how alcohol works at the dinner table at home, and not have her find out on Saturday night from the boy pouring keg beer. We all have to do those things to learn. What matters is that she makes her own choices. Learning not to just follow the crowd, especially when the crowd's direction is making her uncomfortable, is the most important lesson of all.
that she can become anything she wants in life - but it would be best if that "thing" was something she strove for because it makes her happy, not because it makes the most money or sounds the best on paper. Also, sometimes the thing that makes you happy is just going to work so that you can bring home enough money to have the best time with the ones you love once you're off for the night. That's okay too, and it's not just me being boring and realistic.
Sometimes that's what you call living the dream - a couch + a baby + the man you love, and maybe a little Downton Abbey and ice cream too. At least....that's pretty much my idea of the dream right now.
Claire, we are so ready to meet you.