Brains vs Boobs

The other day my girlfriend posted a link to my Facebook timeline, to this blog post: Rules for Parents of Daughters.

So much of it I loved. Especially the parts such as, “Teach your daughter to be strong and confident in her abilities and not be afraid of failure.” I know of few people who have mastered this task, but oh it’s a good reminder. Then there’s “Teach your daughter that has the right to get loud.” Oh the time I spent being self-conscious for being the sort of girl who stood up and made her opinion known. Oh the time I wish I could get back, as cowering changed me forever. Once I was a girl who stood up to a priest when he tried to short-change me my well-earned varsity letter. Now? Well, now I’m not quite so saucy. I even loved,  “Go easy on the plastic surgery.” Why? Because it subtly communicates a certain level of tolerance for the choices of vanity that others make. Especially women. It’s so easy, and so accepted, to bash our fellow women for nips and tucks and pulls, and make it about their character, or lack thereof. It’s a stupid, bullshit game that pits women against each other unnecessarily, and who the hell cares if another person alters her body using legal means?

But then there was this: “Teach your daughter that smart girls get further in life than slutty girls.

I don’t think it’s a far stretch to say that yes, girls who focus their efforts on their intellect, and all of the pursuits therein, do better in the world than say girls who worried more about losing their virginity. It is every parents’ nightmare, I suppose, that their daughter is going to wake up one day and only be concerned about attention from boys. Or girls. Or both.

Sexuality, and the discovery of it, is scary shit. I don’t pretend to have any answers when it comes to my 10-month-old, and I’m currently operating under the happy delusion that she’ll actually never want to go on a date with anyone whose affection she desires without her father and I tagging along.

But it’s not realistic, and neither is slut-shaming as a means of shaping a girl into becoming a strong, independent, successful young woman.

Do you know what has shocked me this year about being a parent? I mean, just rocked me to my core? IT ISN’T THAT HARD. At least not philosophically. You can rest yourselves: I know we’re at the easy part. She doesn’t talk, hasn’t formed (many) of her own opinions, doesn’t know that we’re not infallible, has no concept of the world at large, etc. I get it. We have many bridges to cross, roads to travel, blah blah blah. Generally, though, it’s not hard to see that my Dad was right: You begin parenting immediately, from the moment your kids are born. It’s what you have to do.

So much of parenting seems fundamental: You show up. You’re compassionate. You’re consistent. You’re loving. You’re present. I don’t fear the future because for as much of it is out of our hands, I know my husband and I are here for our kid. None of these things will mean we won’t face hardships, or blood-curdling screams and hormonal outbursts, and oh my God Mom I HATE YOU. I’m not naive. But we’re committed to be a constant, visible presence in her life. So despite whatever challenges come her way, our way, we’re there to face it as a team.

So the last message I want to send to my daughter is that 1) she’s better than the girls who are searching for attention and love in their lives and 2) that it’s OK to use a woman’s sexuality as a means to defame or belittle her.

I’m certainly not saying that I wouldn’t explain and discuss the dangers of promiscuity, or that I’d even for a second encourage it. I do believe in honest, early communication about sexuality and sex in general, but I think as a parent it’s my job to also arm her with a healthy sense of self and respect, beyond sex, so that she doesn’t feel quite as pulled to seek negative attention.

But what I don’t want is a daughter who sees people, especially other girls, in such black and white terms. Moreover, I’d like her to have compassion for those girls. They aren’t always the – ahem – bad girls, and better my kid is the one who goes out of her way to be kind, rather than be the kind who contributes to the cacophony of competitive messages women hear from each other from the get go.

A lot of this is easy from my vantage, I know. I don’t argue that at all. But I know what I value, and what I hope to teach our daughter, even now. I’ve said before that my only real parenting goal is this: Don’t Raise An Asshole. I don’t know that there is anything wrong with teaching her that yes, girls who find value and worth in their brains do well in life, but it’s not as if you have to do it at the expense of mocking others.

What she makes up for in a heftier back account, she’ll lose in sisterhood. Not an added zero to a paycheck in the world that’s worth that.

Oh, resolutions.

Everything has sort of been not-as-awesome this week.

Early wake-ups? Check! Green drinks? Check! Budget? Half-check. Spent more last week but definitely won’t have to this week. Mostly I still can’t seem to get meditation and stretching down.

I think being this damn boot is wearing on me. I did manage to drop some weight, but I imagine that’s owing to me not having unfettered access to cookies and more cookies anymore.

I did eat much better – lots of veggies and fruit. REALLY enjoying the detox salad, and while I didn’t get around to green monsters last week, I have faith this week will see more of those. I was OK on vitamins, but still can’t manage to make them a part of my weekend routine. Same goes with water. Oy. I’m not sure it could be simpler and yet?

My friend, Joanne, mentioned the other day about struggling to take time to just be grateful for the things in her life. It struck me that perhaps that was my barrier to stopping and taking a few moments to relax and be present. So, I took a small notebook with me to bed the other night and started writing down five things for which I was thankful that day, right before I settled in to sleep. Just five things.

I would love to tell you it’s totally changed things, but it hasn’t. I’ve yet to be consistent with it. However, it’s a good practice, and at least a step in the right direction. I can find the time to stop and be grateful for my life and the people and things and opportunities in it.

Seriously. It’s five freakin’ minutes.