From the moment we knew we were having a little girl I was so giddy excited to sing and dance and shop and play with my little future bestie. I mean, we've all been there, right?!
Imagining baking cookies and singing songs in the kitchen with my little mini-me while she dons the little apron my mama got her... playing dress up and having tea parties using our best proper English accents... getting side-by-side pedicures and heading to Nordstrom for mommy-and-me pamper days. Teaching her how to ride her little pink tricycle in the driveway while the dog runs circles around her. The list goes on.
And soon, I started to envision what we'd want for our daughter and future daughter(s) and how we'd want them to be raised: to be independent, confident, strong women who aren't afraid to dream big, climb the highest peaks and not take 'no' for an answer. I wrote Luna a letter to this effect before she was born on all we hope for her and her life, which you can read here.
But, I gotta be honest, it's also a little daunting and scary to raise a daughter.
I am already petrified of any boys coming around haha, even though I know we are (hopefully light) years away from that. But I just know what it's like to be a woman this day and age. How easy it is to succumb to peer pressure. How scary it is just how many women are sexually assaulted and harassed, as shown by the #metoo movement, myself included (unfortunately, on several occasions). How hard it is for women to move up the corporate ladder as compared to a man of her same caliber (I too have experienced this first-hand). How women, in many religions, aren't allowed to hold positions of power. How unrealistic standards of beauty are placed on and almost expected of women. And what does this all teach her? That she is not equal? Of lesser intelligence? Not beautiful without makeup?
That is just straight up hogwash nonsense.
I want my daughter to have boundless opportunities - but more than that, I want her to be happy. To ensure that she is ready for whatever challenges she may face, it is my goal to teach my daughter to be brave, to stand up for herself, to be confident - in herself and in her decisions, to know that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to and works hard at.
Here's to strong women:
may we know them
may we be them
may we raise them
I have found myself on numerous occasions wishing I could have it as easy as men do. Life is just easier for a guy. Straight up. Like the other morning, Ben and I were working out together at Orangetheory and he got 33 splat points (minutes where you're in the orange or red heart rate zones) and I only got half that. It's so easy for him to eat whatever he wants and still lose weight whereas I have to eat like a bird for weeks on end to lose a pound. Ugh. And you can't help but secretly envy and hate him for that. And don't get me started on how often I jealously cursed his name while pregnant and undergoing IVF injections day after day for four years (and likely more to come).
But you know what, my body can perform miracles. My body can grow human beings and feed human beings. Women live longer than men. We get to wear sequins. It's pretty dang cool to be a woman... and I want my daughter to know that.
So in honor of raising strong women, just as my mother has, and her mother before her, these are the things I am going to try to work on to ensure that I do just that:
Teach her how to love her body
If only we could see ourselves through our children's eyes. Our kids think we're awesome, so why can't we?! My goal is to give myself a daily compliment of some sort that is unrelated to my looks or weight. This will hopefully teach my daughter self-acceptance and show her that I can be satisfied with who I am. And on that note, I will try to accept compliments with grace. I tend to deflect compliments by responding with self-criticism. I don't know where we as women learn this, but my brother never had this issue. Whenever someone would tell him how awesome he was at something, he'd always respond, 'I know.' Now, that's not the response I will be going for haha, but I think there's something to be said about responding with self-love.
And just as I would like to teach my daughter to love her body, I also want her to respect it and know how to take care of it. That's why I have been trying to make myself feel good physically - because it's one of the ultimate ways to respect your body. From eating healthy foods to exercising regularly and using natural products, I want to show my daughter that she can be strong and healthy both on the inside as well as out. I think the more kindness you show yourself physically, the more internal love you will feel.
To do this, I have been going for more healthy options at the supermarket. This was kickstarted a bit when I quit eating dairy for Luna due to a potential sensitivity, and I don't intend to drop a good habit. It's just opened my eyes a bit to what I put in my body - and out. So I have also been taking a closer look at the products that I use, steering clear of toxins, aluminum (which can cause cancer), formaldehyde, silicone, phthalates etc. and going for more natural product lines, like Kopari. I've spoken about them before here, and I just love using their organic coconut melt as a moisturizer and empowering my underarms with their pure coconut deodorant. It's 100% plant derived and is non-toxic (no aluminum included). But it's safe, effective and smells super yummy.
By taking care of my body I will be teaching my daughter to do the same, and that's all I can hope for in raising strong women.
Be a good example
Kids are so perceptive and are watching your every move. Our actions and attitudes have the biggest impact on them and it is our job to lead by example. To show them how a man should treat a woman. How to think through decisions. How to handle conflicts. How to have a healthy relationship with each other, with family, with food. How to love yourself.
This is one thing I could certainly be better about. I can be über critical of myself, uttering in the mirror how bad I want botox or need to lose weight. But when I look in my daughter's eyes I feel and know how completely perfect she is - just as she was made. And now I know how my parents felt when I wanted to dye my hair or wear makeup. She doesn't need to change a single thing about herself. So I will try to be on my best behavior and lead by example by modeling a healthy self-image.
I want to get active with her - go for a run, dance in our living room and scale rocks on our hikes. And hopefully, this will teach her to love her body and all it can do for her.
Develop her self-worth
In today's society, we are kind of conditioned to think that our self-worth comes from everything except ourselves. From the clothes we wear to the number on the scale, we are told that our worth comes from outward appearances. But I want my daughter to know that she is not her age. She is not her size. She is not the color of her hair. Or the freckles on her cheeks. She is not the car she drives or the purse she carries. But instead, she is that sweet laughter that escapes her lips. She is the books she reads and the places she visits. She is the tears she cries and the songs she sings loudly when she thinks no one is looking. She is the things she believes in and the family that loves her. I want her to know that every inch of her is made up of so much beauty, inside and out. It is my goal to show her that her worth comes from her heart and her values by complimenting her character and reinforcing their importance.
Teach her Independence
One thing I have watched my sister do with her kids is teaching them independence by allowing them to fend for themselves in certain situations. The process of learning through trial and error teaches them confidence. Mistakes are a normal part of life and not everything will always go their way. As much as I'd want to, I can't do everything for her because then, when I tell her how she can achieve anything she puts her mind to, she won't have any evidence to back those claims up because she hasn't had to work for it.
When I was twelve years old my parents took me to Bolivia to climb a 20,000-foot mountain and put me in charge of packing my own pack. If I forgot something, tough luck. But I was in charge of both packing it and carrying it up the mountain, so it was important to only pack the necessities. And when we got there, we came upon a crevasse that we had to jump over while simultaneously hacking our ice ax into an ice wall. I am not gonna lie, I was scared AF and was ready to give up. And my Dad was like, 'fine, I won't make you do it.' But guess what? I did it. And I am proud as hell of myself. That experience taught me both independence and confidence all at the same time. ANd I carry that accomplishment with me to this day - because it's pretty dang cool if you ask me.
Encourage her passions
I think it's important to cast a wide net when encouraging your daughter's passions. She isn't limited to the typical "girl" activities like gymnastics or dance. I'd like to present her with a wide range of options and let her know that the sky is the limit. If she wants to take up soccer I am all for that. Just as I would be if she decides she wants to be a synchronized swimmer. No matter what piques her interests - even if it differs from my own - her passions and interests matter and are valid I'd like to give her every opportunity to explore them.