Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bossy Girls



I'm feeling a little emotional tonight. We just wrapped up International Women's Day, there is a well-known misogynist in the highest office in the country, and my youngest child - my only daughter - is turning three years old tomorrow. All of this has culminated in me lying in my bed tonight, scrolling through pictures of her over the last year, and relishing the innocence and sweetness of her beautiful little persona.

I also realize she's getting older, and soon the outside world will seep into her small world. She will begin to notice things that don't seem fair, things that don't seem nice, and things that will impact how she sees herself and other women.


As a mother, raising a daughter is a unique experience in and of itself. It is distinct from raising a son. I have a special relationship with my son, and we are close friends. It's a relationship that I've navigated with ease, and I feel very comfortable and confident that he's going to be just fine as he makes his way through adulthood. My hopes for him are rooted in his happiness, good health, and always feeling loved and supported. He's turning into a caring, thoughtful man who will spread love and kindness throughout the world, and I'm really excited to see that. With my daughter, right or wrong, I feel different about our relationship and my hopes for her life as she makes her own way.

When I began reminiscing this evening, I felt an unmistakable urge to protect her innocence and blissful happiness for as long as possible. But, as I progressed further along, looking at picture after picture of her laughing and "bossing people," being silly, and living life out loud like she does, that urge to protect her subsided. I'm realizing I don't want to protect her, nor do I have the same hopes for her as I do for my son. While I do want happiness, health, and love for her in her life, I don't feel satiated by her spreading love and kindness. She is a different kind of person than my son. My son used to call her "bossy," but we decided that we will only say that she "has leadership skills" from now on. 

Bossy women have a hard road in this country. I don't mean "bossy" in the disrespectful sense; I mean "bossy" in the outspoken, opinionated, intelligent, and driven sense. Men. Other women. Business. Family life. Friends. It's all much more difficult to navigate when you're a bossy woman. I can attest to that many times over. So I know - upfront - she's going to have a little tougher go of it than most people. She's going to experience a veritable shit-ton of pushback, time and time again. Folks who tell her to be quiet. Folks who tell her that her opinion doesn't matter. Folks who tell her not to be herself. Folks who imply she is unworthy of being heard. Folks who will discount her, brush her to the side, silence her, roll their eyes at her, become defensive with her, and try to stop her dead in her tracks.

And so, the older she gets, the more my hopes for her life form differently than I thought they would. I'm not going to protect her. I'm not going to be naive about what she's going to confront in the future. Instead, I'm going to be her biggest fucking cheerleader. Instead, I'm going to tell her to be EXTRA bossy. Every minute of every day, I'm going to tell her:

Baby Girl,

Go out and smash shit.
Make a mess and disrupt things.
Wreck the status quo and the mundane.
Push and pull on people's thought processes and make them uncomfortable.
Be loud and, if someone tries to tell you to be quiet, get right in their face and be louder. Defy them.
Blow people's expectations out of the water, and then flip your hair like it's just a regular Tuesday.
Your opinion always matters to you and that's enough. Never tuck that away for anyone.
Flip the script on people and call them out.
If people don't want to hear you, then tell them to get the fuck outta your way.
Be a champion for yourself first, so you can be a champion for others later.
You don't owe anyone your silence. 
Live your life out loud and flip the bird to anyone who tries to shut down your authenticity.
What matters to you matters. Period. You do not need to justify or defend it to anyone.
They will always underestimate you; you will always be stronger than they give you credit for.
Be a fucking warrior.
Boss EVERYONE.

You see, I don't want my little baby girl to be bound by "rules" that stifle that beautiful persona I see toddling around. I don't want to see the light go out inside of her, as happens with so many women over time. My little girl is beginning her life with a fire in her like I've never seen. It's my job, as her mother and a fellow woman, to ensure that fire isn't extinguished by the world, but, instead, that it sets everyone around her on fire with life.




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