They told me you’d be different. Different from your brother, that is. Calmer. Easier. Quieter. Less physical.
They were wrong. So, so, so very wrong. Can I tell you, my wild woman, how happy I am that they were wrong?
At first, it seemed like maybe they were onto something. After all, you were such an easy baby—so chill and go-with-the-flow—that I joked with all my friends that I was worried you were going to be a “good girl.”
You see, the world doesn’t need another good girl, my dear babe. The world needs more of the ones like you, in all your strong-willed glory. The ones who say, “I’m speaking,” as they stand confidently, assertively, with the assured knowledge that no, we are not different from our brothers, and no, we won’t take 81 cents to their dollars.
They’re going to call you bossy. They’re going to call you stubborn. They’re going to call you difficult. On the worst days, they’re going to call you a bitch.
I’m going to call you just right. You are exactly who you should be. You don’t need to make yourself smaller for the sake of the people who are uncomfortable with a woman who doesn’t fall into their expectations of what a woman should be.
You don’t need to make yourself smaller for the sake of the people who are uncomfortable with a woman who doesn’t fall into their expectations of what a woman should be.
I see you, right now, in your 18-month-old body, completely unaware of the societal norms and what’s to come. You wrestle with your brother. You fall down, and you get back up. You keep up with your older and wilder crowd of boy cousins without missing a beat. You openly express your displeasure when I keep you from the bounce house with the bigger kids. You hold on to your toys at daycare when your classmates try to take them. You rock your bikini with your toddler belly and squishy rolls in all their glory. You climb things. You fall. You get stitches. You keep going.
You’re full of energy—I already see it, and so does everyone around you. I can tell you what it is: it’s passion. I know because I feel it on my insides too. You come from a long line of passionate women, and you’re going to have a lot more opportunities than they did.
You’re a little thing with a lot of personality, and you don’t yet shrink it to make others comfortable. I pray that you never do, but I know sometimes you will, and I don’t blame you; some days that will just be easier than putting up your armor against the negativity. It gets tiring, but please keep going. Please keep making opportunities for those who come after you.
You’re a little thing with a lot of personality, and you don’t yet shrink it to make others comfortable.
You are not different from your brother, like they said you would be, but you will have to navigate nuances that he won’t. How to be assertive with a smile on your face so you don’t get labeled as aggressive. How to be a leader without getting labeled as bossy. How to question the status quo without getting called difficult. How to get mad without them saying you’re hysterical. How to be smart without being intimidating. How to be pretty without being labeled as dumb. How to compete without being too competitive. How to speak up without being too outspoken. How to share an opinion, lest you be called opinionated. How to be everything without being too much of anything.
Be everything anyway. Let them call it what they want.
Sure, your strong-willed, high-spirited, I-can-do-it-myself attitude is going to make my parenting life a wild ride, and yes, perhaps more challenging than if you smiled and nodded and obeyed without question. But keep on questioning.
If the extra challenge of raising one of the “difficult” ones means putting another strong woman in the world? Well, that’s a sacrifice I’m honored to make, my baby girl.