The other day a friend stopped by with her two daughters in tow, all bright smiles and freckle-faced freshness. Her older girl, bordering on middle school, smiled and gave me a sticker which, I was told, she’d been keeping for me because she thought I’d like it.
Look, I scream and use a lot of four letter words. I rage and sometimes but not always fantasize about pulling lightening crackling down from the sky. Some days I put on my pointy witch hat and sweep away the bullshit. But when it comes to kids, I’m kind of a marshmallow, so of course I was touched.
I put it on my laptop, which is home to a selection of sticky slogans, and the more I thought about it, the sappier I got–and not just because I’m probably going to get one of those freak, out-of-nowhere periods that seem to happen when you’re in your late 40s.
I got a little misty because it’s working.
What I do, the way I live my life, the attention I pay to detail, what I speak about, how I talk to girls and boys, the screaming, the shouting, the listening, all of it. It’s working. Because here was this bordering on middle-school girl, half-way down the path to young woman, a girl who is going to, probably sooner rather than later, face the inevitable: comments about her body, catcalls from men who should know and act better, someone, somewhere dropping a comment about her being just a girl–or crying like one, throwing like one, acting like one–as if any of those are inherently bad. She is a girl, which means she’ll pick up on clues from folks who think she’s not worth as much as a boy. She’ll overhear a conversation between boys she knows talking smack about another girl’s body. She’ll overhear a conversation between girls she knows doing the same.
And along comes a sticker, and I thought that seed is planted. It’s buried now, deep down. And it will take root and it will blossom.
Because you see, now she knows she doesn’t need Superman. She doesn’t need Supergirl. Because she is her own super-girl.
My own boys know what I’m like and what’s important to me. But they’re mine. I’m the chief baker and molder of their environment cookie dough. I have been since they were cooing and ga-ga-ing in their Baby Einstein Exersaucer and every day since. But other people’s kids? It’s a pretty great feeling to know that a tweenage girl could see an image, an image evoking female strength and independence, and think of me.
Sweet, right? And I don’t mean in the sugar and spice sense there, I mean in the long drawn out sweeeeeetttt sense.
I think–and hope!– that through these pages, through my actions, my love and respect for my sons is evident. But there are times when I live vicariously through my friends’ daughters, not so much to fill a gap in my heart, but to get a pulse on today’s girls and what they are like. Once I had a conversation with two friends about the things I miss out on being the mother of only sons.
“I’ll never get to share that first period moment!” I lamented.
They thought I was crazy, but I kind of meant it. Let’s face it, the first nocturnal emission just doesn’t seem to have the same rite of passage feel about it. And to be honest, it’s not something they’ll likely tell me, although if they do, perhaps we’ll share a ritual passing over of the tissue box, who knows.
So my friends message me when a daughter does something they think I will like or find amusing or just kick-ass.
C called out her tennis coach when the medal she got only featured a boy;
R does a fist pump and says “Smash the Patriarchy” when I see her;
E regularly tells boys they aren’t allowed to touch her without her permission;
Another R writes essays and challenges gender stereotypes in her high school hallways; and
S saw a sticker of Supergirl rescuing Superman and thought of me.
These girls are being raised by strong women. Whenever I get a text or a message–or a sticker–I think, if I had a daughter, I’d want her to be just like yours, or yours, or yours. All of them different, but strong in their own ways. All of them Super girls.
And I feel, just for a moment, just for a split second, like I got to play some tiny part in that, like I get to change the world just a little bit.
One super girl at a time.
10 Comments Add yours
If you ever feel the need for “First-period” stories, I have a few and am also very comfortable at going to the store for related products late at night. I also can tell you my three daughters are “take no prisoner” types, despite the fact that their dad is a card-carrying conservative and member of that organization that spends countless dollars on promoting responsible gun safety to young people and adults alike. All joking aside, while I see things differently, I do appreciate your perspective and ability to convey your messages.
Ray, if you’re ever in Denmark, look me up. I think we’d have some interesting conversations!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Absolutely beautiful. Reblogging now to Success Inspirers World
It is true that stong women raise strong women. But I’d also like to add to that – strong men also raise strong women, AND strong women raise strong men. Strength comes from knowing humility, to not take oneself too seriously, to remember that one’s opinion is just that, and that other people’s opinions are valid, worth listening to, and worth making the effort to understand. A person who is strong does not need others to be weak. A person who is strong does not need continual affirmation to feel valued or appreciated. A person who is strong can afford to appear “weak” to other people, and still retail their ability to not be swayed by desires for acceptance or popularity.
Yes! All of this is very true. And I promise you I have a post coming soon about boys, and raising strong, empowered boys (who are comfortable around strong, empowered girls!). And it does take both women and men to take part. It is not a job for one, but for all.
love it! I had a moment just like this with a little girl who was not my own and I had this exact realization! I wrote a whole essay about it. It is so important to lead by example. We just naturally become heroes to future heroes. Love it. http://www.femmeunfiltered.com/for-the-children-insisting-on-moral-capitalism/
Thanks! I’ve never thought of myself as a hero, (Shero?), but hell, why not?! Looking forward to reading the essay!
I think you make this world a better place for both boys and girls, just direct or indirect but your actions (not only the writing) do make differences. One girl at a time, one boy at a time if not by bunch. Because before you know it, those boys of yours will make an impression if not impact on some girls. We are raising a better generation for equality. Hell yeah…sticker or tattoo…whatever works !
Baby steps. One KID at a time. I’ve got a post in the works about the importance of boys. I need to get that one up.