I like to think of myself as a fierce mama lion. Not a tiger mom, not an elephant mom, maybe not even a lion mom. I may just be a plain old, run of the mill mule mom.
I just want to get it right, but between special lunches, family dinners, and trying not to raise door mats, there are certain things that no matter where you fall on the mom spectrum, are just simply unwinnable. In this era of very loud, incredibly public scorekeeping, these are six things that I wish I could have taught myself sooner about raising daughters:
1. Clothes. Any clothing that you purchase for your daughters after onesies and before power suits will involve groin-grazing, velour skinny pants. These will, in all likelihood, have the words Angel, Party, or I See You emblazoned in aqua sequins on the backside. You will try to buy long shirts to compensate, but they’ve thought of that too, and before you can say, “A pox on Victoria’s Secret,” your six year old will have used a ponytail holder to cinch the t-shirt at the waist. Grandmothers of boys at school will say, “It’s deplorable the way girls today are dressing.”
2. Gender Neutrality. You will endeavor to be virtuous and avoid the pink and purple girl-designated toy sets, because how dare they assign gender to toys. You will instead purchase gender neutral, made in the USA toys that give back: corncob dolls with gingham dresses made by Amish people. The dolls will look like fire starters or voodoo scarecrows alongside the hundred dollar American Girl Dolls of their peers. “But mom, the American Girls come with matching clothes for you and your doll.” You will mutter under your breath, “I suppose you want a puppy to carry in a purse, too?” That whisper will have been a mistake, because yes, a puppy that travels in a purse is exactly what they want, silly!
3. The Disney Princesses. They will be a part of your life. No, you cannot tread some special path that doesn’t involve the woodland creature-loving Snow White or the helpless Sleeping Beauty, Aurora. Friends and family will foist the princesses upon you in a tidal wave of satin, ruffles and little plastic shoes. Just be pleased that you have Pocahontas, a fringe princess, literally and figuratively, who aside from the scandalous leather mini and an insatiable need for John Smith is actually kind of awesome.
4. Girl Power. Exposing your daughters to strong female role models will be a central focus in all that you do, from travel, to entertainment, to political activism. You will rally behind the Beyonces and Taylor Swifts; don’t judge on this one—work with what you have. You will stutter step through hasty explanations of why she “is performing almost naked in February?”
5. Speak Up. You will read the articles of the perils of uptalking and vocal fry. You will snap at your girl children at each upward inflection or swallowed word, “Don’t speak like that, people won’t respect you if you don’t care enough about your ideas to say them as sentences rather than questions or in a way that can be heard.” You will go to a parent teacher conference and the female teacher will demonstrate excessive use of both uptalking and vocal fry.
6. Sing It. Your daughter will sing lyrics that are a euphemism for oral sex or drugs. You won’t know where they learned it; just know that you can’t un-ring that bell. You’ll likely be behind the wheel when it happens. You’ll have a choice to make, choose foolhardy and you’ll pull the car over and try to set them straight, it will make them love the song more. Swearsies. You can switch the station, la la la la, never heard it. This will only speed their utter certainty that you are an idiot. Or, you can rock your head side-to-side and admit that you too love Pitbull and Ke$ha and just effing dance.
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