When I had my daughter I went through the gamete of emotions. Here is the conversation in my head over those first few weeks:
“Oh my word, she is perfect.”
“She is going to be so much smarter than me. Already is.”
“Oh my god she is going to hate and resent me when she grows up.”
“Shit, I have to teach her to be strong and all bootstrappy. No one will ever take advantage of her because she is a girl. I have to teach her.”
It was completely different than when my son was born. When he born I was just in complete awe of him and totally in love. I mean, I felt all those things for my daughter, too. But with her, there was this additional strength. This need to teach her to be strong and protect herself, and to never get taken advantage of, this fear that she and I would have a crazy relationship because of the relationship I have with the women in my life. This pain that I know she will get heartbroken one day, or get talked down to by a man, or not given the raise she deserves, or whatever. It was more a helplessness that was countered by a determination to give her strength in her life. With my son, I just want to make sure he keeps his sensitivity, and respects and loves everyone. I just have to make sure he stays the same as he is now, and his heart stays gentle and compassionate. I am not worried about him.
It’s funny, isn’t it? I am a feminist, and in some ways, I am not being a feminist with her. I am treating her differently and have different expectations of myself when it comes to raising her. That is the opposite of the equality that feminism stands for. I want her to be a fighter, strong and determined and live with conviction. I want her to be this way because I think somehow she will be able to accomplish more if she believes in herself despite the bullshit around her, despite who the president is, despite the catcalls. But is my approach, though practically automatic in nature, the right one?
Counterpoint, my husband, as far as I can tell, has the thoughts about our son that I have of our daughter, and vice-versa. I can see it, and he can see it in me. It truly is amazing.