It certainly sounds strange to talk about my two-year old as a woman. She is still a baby, perhaps to me she always will be. Yet one day, she will grow and flourish into a young woman, a young woman who I am trying to coax into being the best version of herself she can be.
You see, I was raised largely by woman, strong woman at that. I don’t really know another kind. Ironically however, I was raised to be an independent woman thanks to the man in my life. My Grandfather. My Grandad is a man from a much earlier generation, a different time, but he remains a man very much ahead of his time.
He always told me to rely on myself. To always have spare change for a rainy day. To know that I could do anything and be anyone I chose, if I was prepared to work for it, being female didn’t even enter the conversation. These lessons were well learnt and have stayed with me. It is only of late that I have questioned his teaching. I won’t divulge, instead I will turn to the words of another. Another who has explained some of the difficulties still faced by woman so beautifully and articulately in this post, by Whine Whinge Wine.
Despite my waiving belief in equality and my own questionable state of independence, I cannot help but be amazed by my daughter and her fierce independence. A quality that I suspect is already in her nature. That is part of who she is. There is an irony in writing about her independence as the thought of my children gaining more and more independence from me makes my insides weep. Yet, it also makes me want to burst with pride, just a little bit.
So when my daughter says to me ‘no I do it‘ or ‘my do it mummy’ I let her. She is always wanting to do things for herself. At two years of age I cannot fathom this burning desire she has to do everything. I am proud yes, but it also makes getting out the house 20 times harder, or making a meal twice as difficult. It makes us even later for our commitments and pushes my patience to new levels. However what I can’t do is bring myself to tell her ‘No you can’t’.
You will not hear me tell my children that they cannot do something. No matter how much I want to just do it for them. No matter how much easier it would be for me to just put her shoes on so we can get out the dam house. I will help them and guide them yes, but I will not stop them and I will not takeover.
Instead, I will be the one at the sidelines screaming ‘you can do it’ or you go down trying.
I have heard lot’s of ‘can’t’ over the last two and a half years and it has, at times, been bitter pills to swallow.
It doesn’t end with my daughter either. If I am to be her role model (pressure!) then I to have to believe and show her I can too. It feels a challenge in today’s world but I must also go down trying, right? The woman before me have done their part, now it is my turn.
And my son? Because he was born male, does he not need these lessons? Absolutely not, he is being raised to believe he can. That anyone can. Irrespective of everything.
So when I ask myself what can I do? What can any of us do to make a difference to this world in which our children are growing into. What can I do as a mother to help raise my babies, my son and my daughter to be independent young men and women…
…I can let them do it, I can let them try, I can give them the time, space and encouragement they need to be able to try, to do. I can unleash and cultivate their independence, I can allow them to explore it and allow it grow. I won’t stifle it or take over. I will feed it and water it with self belief, even if I want to bang my head against the wall or burst into tears in the process. All in the hope that I am raising my daughter to be an independent woman and my son an independent man, who believe in themselves and their ability to do.
That said though, my darlings, I believe with every fibre of my being that you can be anything you want to be. That you can be self-sufficient and strong but, whenever you need it, I am always here. Your dad is always here. We will always be here for you, and never ever forget that.