Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mama's Girl

Dear Sesame Seed,

It seems we are awake at some un-godly hour again. It happens, and I'm sure it will happen a lot more once you are here to make your voice heard. Well, at least we have each other for company.

There has been something on my mind, on and off for a while, but even more so the past few weeks. I avoided it for most of that time, but when I finally had the courage to stare it in the eye and examine it, I think I discovered what was bothering me. I think I am up at this hour wanting to process it all in writing, so here goes.

Sesame Seed, to begin with, I want to say that I know with absolute certainty that I will love you from the day you are born and every single day after that. I already do love you so much. When I thought about raising a child recently, however, I was struck with a very particular fear - the fear that you might be a girl. It seemed ridiculous to me. I know I will love you regardless of gender, and I know that my ideas of gender are fluid. I know I will raise you with the same values and ideas about your own strength and abilities regardless of your gender. I know that I believe that gender expressions can look totally different and that I believe all kinds of gender expression are ok. So why on earth would I not only care, but be frightened by the idea of you being born a girl?

I thought about any of the fears that might be associated with you being a girl. Protecting you from sexism and violence against women, allowing you to believe in your power and strength, the various things that I think mothers of girls are challenged with. But none of that was it. If anything, I think I am more equipped to help you through that because of my own attitudes towards all that.

I talked to some people about my fear, and the way I explained it was this simplified version where I said things like - I don't do makeup and girl drama - but it felt really false to say those things. Those are neither important to me nor are they important to being a good Mama.

And, besides, what I realized quite suddenly, is that I DO do those things. And that's when I realized how right your Daddy was (as usual). He had told me that there was no way my fear had to do with you - the baby I have dreamed of and wished for my whole life, the baby I will love wholly and completely, the baby I am already so protective of. My fears started and ended with me. Having you was just a trigger to deal with those fears now. And those fears are...drumroll please....I am not a good enough woman to raise a girl.

Ridiculous, right? There is no such thing as a "good enough" woman. I am who I am, and that's just right for me. However, it became clear to me that what other people have told me or implied to me about the kind of woman I am has actually made me fear my ability to be the best Mama for you. Why? I have been creating a picture of my own gender expression, putting myself into a box, in order to fight the disapproval of people who don't like the woman that I am. But boxes are not fluid, and I am. My boxes included things like not getting dressed up and feeling pretty, not watching light "girly" movies, not being a stereotypical woman in the way that our current culture defines it just because I was made to believe that if I tried to do that I would fail. And I led myself to believe that I did this because of a gender fluidity.

And I am gender fluid. But not because I can't do girly stuff, but because I sometimes choose not to. And actually, although it doesn't make me a better or worse woman, I do like to dress up and look pretty. I sometimes drive your Daddy a little crazy trying on too many outfits before we go out somewhere. And I do understand sensitive emotions - of girls or boys - and I can listen well and be gentle and loving with my responses. And I think I have a knack for color combinations. And I am a really good cook. And I am a gentle, nurturing care giver. Not that a boy or man couldn't be those things, but what's important to me is that I actually can do the stereotypically female things just fine. I have just been made to believe I couldn't.

And I am done with that. You, my Baby Love, need more than that. You need a Mama who believes in herself and her ability to raise you and care for you no matter what. You need a Mama who is undaunted by the judgments of others. You need a Mama who believes in her own strength.

Whether you are a boy, a girl, or something in between, I will be your ever-loving Mama. And together, we will take on the world, with all of its craziness and beauty.

I already love you, little one,

Your Mama

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