Our May Day baby turned six this year, it is hard to believe. She is such a vivid, spirited, and joyous girl. The night she was born, and actually from the moment of her conception, she has filled the room, her presence is as intense as it is loving and as strong as it is sweet.
And as challenging as this makes some of the parenting of her, it is just as equally delightful to be around, I am so privileged to be her mother.
She is definitely growing into her big girl self and I find myself surprised by things like nail polish and unicorns and multiple changes of clothes a day. I realize that I was once a little girl myself, but this house is so full of boys and this little girl is just as often a ninja as she is a princess that the truly girly stuff is just so noticeable.
And I find that as this girl grows up, I can’t help but worry about gender issues more with her than I do with her three brothers. I am confident that they will grow into gentle, respectful, and kind men who thrive on both hard work and physical play, creative pursuits and intellectual challenges. Really, I feel pretty certain that this girl will grow up equally well balanced given our way of life and the fact that we don’t superimpose any preconceived notions about these things on them. There is just this part of me that cringes when I see her checking herself in the mirror, giggling over boys and being in love (in the sweetest and most innocent six year old way that she is) and pretending at times to be a teenage girl on a date with her boyfriend–where does this stuff come from!
We were needing to walk around for a little while in Salem a few months ago on a rainy day and so we walked through the mall that was next door to where we were parked. It was kind of a crazy day for us and we were definitely out of our comfort zone. My sons tapped me as we walked past a Victoria’s Secret store with super large, super inappropriate posters hanging on the windows. They were sure they should not be seeing that, and that was oh so true; but what killed me was that later that night, my daughter mentioned something about how beautiful those women were. She says the same thing when she happens to see a model in some other magazine at the store or in a waiting room. She is picking up ideas so quickly from even these brief encounters with modern media, and she is still so little.
And so that is why I worry, even if it is all perfectly natural. The real women she knows in her life show her that there is a lot more to being a woman than being pretty. We are intelligent and creative women who balance being mothers and wives and thoughtful individuals so well. And her father models such a deep and appreciative love of me that goes so far beyond physical attraction I am sure she will learn well the kind of love she deserves.
And I realize that there is a natural part of all of the women I know that still likes to dress up and to feel pretty.
I know that really I worry too much. It’s just that there is something so fragile about a young girl, even the strongest ones. Young boys can be just as fragile too and are often misguided by the adults around them, it’s true. I just think there is less media out there pigeonholing them; or maybe somehow my boys are just less aware of it?
In the end, I am thankful to see that our way of life adds layers of protection around my children that will hopefully last a lifetime. That is all we can do, add those layers of love and goodness to their skin while they are young so that they are free to grow into themselves without too many chinks in their armor.
We are loving this little girl up as much as we can.
And she is full of goodness, so much goodness.