Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday, Simone

Dear Simone:

If you are old enough to read this, by now you've probably heard the story of how I was scared to have a daughter. 

I don't get scared of much.  Getting stuck in revolving doors.  Not liking swimming in lakes if I can't see or touch the bottom.  That's about it.  But I was scared to have a daughter.  

I didn't really know what to do about all the sequin and ruffly stuff.  I didn't know what to do with the complicated, catty emotions.  I was raised with two brothers.  Oodles of male cousins. Not really many girls in my life. My mom and I struggled through my teenage years, which left me completely unromantic about the mother-daughter bond.  

When I went to college and moved into the sorority house, I was stunned by what a bad female I was.  I didn't know how to dress, do my hair, wear make-up. Somehow I'd landed into a sorority filled with beautiful girls who knew all these things. I felt like someone ripped out chapters from the manual I was supposed to have on Being Female.

It was rare for me to have female friendships years ago.  High school, I did.  But in college, my circle was mostly males. I would leave the sorority house in the morning, hang out with my circle of male friends...or later, Steve's fraternity...and being around men felt like putting on my sweats after pulling off pantyhose at the end of a long day.  I was a pro at having completely platonic, close friendships with males (2 of my 5 bridesmaids were male)-- but trying to create conversations with a female, I wasn't quite sure what to say. 

It took motherhood to create those female bonds, in fact.  Finally, I knew what to talk about.  I had moved into a life-sector that could only be shared with another female.  Childbirth, nursing babies, all of it.  I could finally connect with women in a way I never could before, and I created friendships post-motherhood that I know I will have for life.

But the female-sector still seemed confusing to me in many ways. And I still wasn't quite sure how to raise a daughter.  Even with learning how to interact with females, I didn't quite understand how the younger years of a girl looked. So when most of my pregnant friends were saying, "I just want it to be healthy," I was secretly harboring feelings of wishing for boys. 

And then I met you. 

How could I ever have thought I'd need to figure anything out about how to raise you?  You ejected into the world already knowing.  You have such a  keen awareness of who you are and what you need...and it doesn't matter how many books I had read about raising a daughter, none of them would have applied to you anyway.You are your own character.

I look into you, and I see parts of you that I have loved about myself.  Myself as a female, especially. You are so fiercely independent.  You are strong and powerful on the inside.  Dad often says that he already has no concerns about sending you into the world; he knows you'll be able to handle anything and everything that comes your way.  

You are the daughter that I needed to have, but even more...you are more than I ever dreamed you could be in my life.  The very part of you that concerned me...how I could adequately mother a female...has become this incredible gift in my life.  I love your girl-power.  I love how you put on ballerina dresses to go out and sword-fight your brothers in the backyard.  I love how you put Spider Man action figures to sleep in your dollhouse. How you build incredible LEGO creations, but want them to be pink.  You decide who you are supposed to be, and you make it happen on your own terms.

In so many ways, it seems like you've figured out -- before the age of 4 -- things that it took me years to learn.  That you can be strong and independent, but still be 100% girlie too.  That it's not a contradiction.  Since you were born, I have developed that side of myself so much more.  Wearing dresses and discovering that I might actually love shoes. Finally figuring out, after 30-plus years, how to do my hair. You've taught me that being feminine on the outside has nothing to do with how powerful you are on the inside.

You are going to do great things in your life, Simone.  I've never been so happy to be wrong, as I was in being concerned about having a daughter.



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