Let's Teach Our Daughters to be Women before being Wombs and Wives
From as early as I can remember, almost every toy or doll promoted towards girls either prepared them to be a mother or a wife: baby dolls that needed to be fed and sometimes even changed, kitchen sets that required either Barbie or myself to prep, cook, wash and put away a family sized set of dishes, pink brooms and vacuums... the list goes on. Even the style of clothing for girls were low-key made to catch the eye of the boy on the playground, as you and your girlfriends competed to see who could make their hula-hoop swoosh the longest while singing songs about who was not who's man. Without the thought being verbally stated, my toy room, the aisles of most toy stores, and the playground songs and games implied that in order to be a happy woman, I would need to know how to cook a meal for a family of four, bear children, and be someone's wife. Anyone else just flip through your mental Rolodex and realize the same?
As I perused the internet for stock pictures of "happy women", almost every picture involved a woman with a man or a woman with child. This indoctrination is at best damaging. Yes. I said at best. As a preteen, I remember saying to myself, "I can't wait to be a wife and have four children. That's the goal." I remember growing up around many married women, though my mother spent a great deal of my childhood in a single state. These married women would dote on and on about their husbands in conversations with other women and to be honest, it all sounded quite alluring; more alluring than being single. I grew up during the era where not a great deal of conversation was had amongst women and their daughters about much of anything. We as young ladies learned through observation. Observation showed me that having a good husband and well nourished and obedient kids meant you were a good woman. Any agreement here?
If I Knew Then What I Know Now...
This ideology, learned purely through observation, lead to a tumultuous teens, twenties, and early thirties. Without verbal clarification, my observations taught me that no one will love you more than your children, so invest in them like there's no tomorrow. Clarification would have taught me that our children only learn what love is and how to love through their interactions with their parents, whether good or bad. Clarification would have stated that not every woman will be able to have children and that if that happens to be your lot in life; one, it's okay and two, you should be the person who loves you the most anyway, so invest in yourself first.
Observation taught me that a woman helps and supports her man. Clarification would have taught me that help and support does not mean carry. Clarification would have taught me that support is a two way street and if there is no balance, i.e. the other person doesn't push you to be your best self or do what's best for you before asking or guilt tripping you to invest in them, it's simply usury and you should run far far away.
My observations also taught me that while men may cheat, women do not just throw marriages away because marriages have rough patches and take work. Clarification would have taught me that there is a difference between a mistake and a life choice. Clarification would have let me know that repetition of an action is no longer a mistake, it's disrespect and when you as a woman are disrespected by another human being, the respect you have for yourself needs to hold more weight and help you to walk away with your head held up high.
The Importance of Our Choices on Their Lives
On the topic of respecting one's self, observation taught me that as a single woman, you should be gaining knowledge, working, preparing yourself for your husband. How about preparing yourself as a young lady to be a woman that is happy simply being in her own company? Let's start teaching our daughters what it means to love your imperfect self. Let's teach our daughters that the hair that grows directly from their scalp is beautiful and if they decide that they want to buy some extra or cut it all the way off, their hair will not bare weight on their value. Let's teach our daughter's that it is okay to make mistakes, just not to dwell on them. Let's teach our daughters that make up isn't a necessity it's an accessory and that women come in many different shapes and sizes that should all be respected and valued. How about we teach these beautiful little women that they have the power to set and end trends? Teach them how much power they have regarding what the industry deems valuable. How about we teach them to have dreams and goals and not feel guilty if those milestones do not involve marriage and child-rearing? Teach them that life is not a race with man-made deadlines, but a journey with labyrinth type paths. Teach them to pace themselves. Teach our future generation our Empresses that they are not in competition with each other, that within sisterhood, is the foundation of an empire. Most importantly, let's teach our daughters to listen to that still, small little voice called intuition, when we or their sisters are not around for guidance.
We, the women, wombs, and warriors from the school of hard knocks, have the power to change the world. Be the change you wish to seek through action, open communication, and deed. What are some of the things you wish a strong woman would've taught you?