As the ultrasound technician ran her magic wand over my jelly-covered belly and searched for signs of who my unborn child would be, I waited impatiently for confirmation of what I was already quite sure of: that “it” was a girl. This, my third pregnancy, had been much more difficult than the first two, both of which produced boys. I was sure the added tiredness and the nausea that lasted well into the 2nd trimester were signs not only of the fact that this baby would be different than the other two, but also of the energy and effort it would take to raise her.
I wanted a girl, of course. My husband was excited to have daughter as well. And my sons thought it only right that since they already had a brother, they get a sister this time. So when the ultrasound tech confirmed our suspicions, we were thrilled. A girl! Finally! This would be something new, and exciting, and different.
But I was also . . . apprehensive. Girls, I thought – though wonderful, amazing, beautiful, surprising creatures – were a little bit scary. I worried about dealing with “mean girl” problems, with body image issues, with pressures to be beautiful and intelligent and athletic and kind and popular and strong and sassy all at the same time. I imagined those emotional teenage years and hoped that we wouldn’t become disconnected right at the time when she needed motherly support and encouragement the most. And, of course, I wondered if there was any way to stop myself from passing on my less-than-desirable traits: the feelings of unworthiness, the high-strung attitude, the perfectionism.
In those first weeks after the “diagnosis” that I was having a girl was confirmed, I asked all my mother-of-daughter friends to tell me all the wonderful things about having a girl and to convince me that I – scared as I might be – could raise a girl who was strong and smart and confident. Since then I’ve read so much about raising daughters, and I’ve fallen deeply in love with the little girl who, though only 14 months old, is fiercely independent (and I do mean fierce), absolutely fearless, and excited to jump in and wrestle with her brothers — or “dress up” in my shirts.
Here’s a little bit of the wisdom about raising strong daughters that I’ve collected and taken to heart over the past 18 months — and that I hope to live as my daughter grows up. Plus, check out our Girl, Empowered page for more posts like this, in time for International Day of the Girl!