29 August 2011

Of Dolls and Bicycles

I have recently read some articles and subsequent discussions on how we are raising our little girls. There are arguments that we should not let our girls be obsessed with pink and princesses, while others say that those things don’t matter. Arguments for girls being tomboys and other for girls being girly.

For me, it is overwhelming and confusing. How can I agree with parts of each side when they differ so much in opinion?

Billy so wisely has told me (with regard to many things) that it is all about balance. To be extreme on either side is not wise. Balance is key.

In a class I took in college, the subject of body image came up. While the conversation became passionate, I started to feel uncomfortable. The general outcry was that “true women have curves.” But then I thought about the woman in my life who were skinny by nature. They did nothing extreme to be skinny. They just were. Where they not “true women?”

I came to the conclusion that it was not about being one way or the other: it is about accepting exactly who we are. (I have to say that I do believe in change. I believe that there are things about each of us that can and should change. For instance, my tendency to envy or to compare. Those are things worth changing. But that is not the direction I would like to go in. Another topic for another day.)

I spent my growing up years, even into college, trying to hide the things about me that I thought were “too feminine.” I felt that if I was too feminine, that my credibility would be diminished and I would not be respected. So I hid from the color pink, wore T-shirts and jeans instead of skirts and dresses. I tried always to be tough, not admitting to any weakness, trying desperately not to cry when I was hurt (physically or emotionally). I would not admit that though education was a top priority and being able to support myself was a goal of mine, that what I really wanted to do and felt was important for me to do was to have babies and be home with them. I went so far as to tell myself that I would never depend on a man. I was a strong, independent woman.

The problem did not stem from those specific things being wrong. I was simply not being true to myself. I love wearing skirts. And while pink is not my absolute favorite, I do enjoy wearing it (as I do most colors). Sometimes, when I get hurt, I cry. And when something touches my heart, I am overcome with emotion. I want to be a mother that can be home with her children. In fact, I do not do well when I am stretched thin between too many responsibilities. I struggle to focus and so, for now, this is what works best for us, in our marriage and our family. And truth be told, I depend completely on my husband. He is the organized to my mess, the calm to my chaotic. He loves me when I don’t deserve to be loved and reminds me of my worth.

Those things, particularly the last, do not take away from my credibility. They do not diminish my intelligence or make me less than any other man or any other woman. They simply contribute to who I am. I (am learning to) accept the parts of me that love the colors blue and green, that want to run and play and be wild while also loving the side of me that loves to get dressed up, that gets giddy when the flowers begin to bloom, and that never felt truly comfortable in her own skin until her husband loved her just how she was.

This is not to say that this how you are or how you should be. It is all about balancing all those parts of you and becoming the best and happiest person you can become.

So what do I want for my daughter? I want her to be kind and wholesome, intelligent and balanced. I want her to find role models that are worth admiring. I will do my best to surround her with things that help her develop those attributes.

And if she loves nothing more than to dress up and have tea parties, then I will make crumpets. Or if she wants to go skateboarding with her Papa, then I will shoo them out the door on another adventure. And if she wants both, then I will help her find balance in those different parts of who she is.

What are your thoughts?


joojierose said...

oh my goodness your daughter is more adorable than words! oh!

and i hear you. this is a huge debate as i cringe at the idea of raising daughters in a world so viciously obsessed with appearance. we are so much more than all these boxes.

but i'm certain you'll be lovely in raising this dear child! beautiful writing, again, as always.

Curt and Ronda said...

You just stated so eloquently how I feel and have felt for my whole life! Good for you to have it figured out already. It took me a while, too, but you are right. Balance is good, and it is okay to want to be home with your babies and have someone who you can depend on. It doesn't make you less, it makes you more! I think that is The Plan!