In light of much that has happened in the last few years for women and girls, the good and the bad, I want my daughters to know a few important things. We have so many strong, amazing women in the public eye to look at as heroines. Celebrities, politicians, survivors, athletes, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and more to inspire others who to be when they “grow up.” What about the more attainable people, and the lessons to be learned from these stories? What can I (and you) teach our girls?
“Have courage and be kind.” –Cinderella
Every day as my oldest daughter goes off to school I remind her that it is more important to be kind than anything else. It truly takes courage to be kind to people when the world can seem that we are all so torn on so many things. Having the ability to lead with kindness is a life lesson, even I myself am still learning. Hurt people, hurt people. It is so easy to lash out in anger when someone isn’t nice to you. It takes courage to take the moment, and lead with your heart of kindness. That saying that you don’t know everyone’s battles is so true. I don’t know what you have been through to come to a place to be cruel or have hatred in your heart. What I can do is teach my girls that we are kind, and we live with our hearts wide open and without judgment for others. When you see someone in need or alone, you reach out any way you can to help. Even if at this stage it’s just being nice to the new kid in class, I am happy to see your kindness.
“Don’t say, ‘Maybe,’ if you want to say, ‘No.'” –Ryan Holiday
When you tell someone “NO” for whatever reason, you make sure they listen to you the first time. It does not matter the situation you are in, what kind of mental or physical state you are in, it DOES NOT MATTER. Your power to say “No” is your power and is to be respected. Being bold and confident in what you want is not to be mistaken with being anything else but that. When our girls see us constantly saying “Yes” to things we don’t want to do, then hearing us complain outwardly about that, it teaches them to continue that pattern. The pattern to please and say “Yes” to please others even when it doesn’t please us. I am just as guilty as anyone else of doing this. Being more cognitive of this has made my life easier and shows my children that saying “No” in any circumstance is okay and is to be respected. If there comes a time that someone did not listen to you, know that I will. I will believe you and I will fight for you. You have the power to make your “No” heard. I hope you believe in yourselves as much I believe in you. Believe in other women that way, as well.
“Don’t let your mind bully your body.” –June Wood
Take a good look at how wonderfully made you are. Look at every inch of yourself and thank God for that body. It will grow and change, develop and form in so many ways at so many stages. That same body you may look at when you’re 15 and feel ugly, is the same one that some day could create a beautiful baby, and that is pretty kickass. You WILL without a doubt, look back at pictures of yourself someday and think, “Why did I feel so fat?” You weren’t. You were as beautiful then as you are now. We have the ability to do so much more with our bodies than any other creature on this planet. Let’s be open about sexuality; this may be uncomfortable to speak about, but it’s more uncomfortable to not understand what you want or get your needs met. When I was younger I didn’t realize how much my pleasure mattered, as much as any partner I was with. I wish had the empowerment to feel that. Confidence starts with you, with who you see when you look at yourself. There is nothing more gorgeous than a woman who is unapologetically confident in herself. It doesn’t matter your size or your weight, the beauty you have always had starts with the confidence I hope to nourish you to grow.
“Love is the absence of judgment.” –Dalai Lama
Whomever you choose to love does not matter to anyone but you. Just make sure they aren’t a bad person. Look at the successful loving couples you have seen growing up and choose to be like them. Learn from the couples you saw go through the breakups and divorces. Do not have an opinion on others’ choices about love unless you are prepared to have them have one towards you. If you don’t like their views, lucky for you — they are their views. We hold love to a standard of such high regard — love with everything you have and if your heart gets broken into a million pieces someday (and it probably will), get back up and love again. Be a hopeless romantic and believe in earth-shattering, can’t-live-without-you LOVE.
“I am strong because a strong woman raised me.” –Unknown
If my daughters can look back someday and see me as someone they want to achieve to be like, I will have led a successful life. We as grown adult women have the ability to teach, show and be the example to our girls. When they see us look in a mirror and criticize, it teaches them that we don’t love ourselves. Moments of self-doubt that we vocalize in front of them demonstrates that our confidence isn’t as strong as we may want them to think. Full disclosure, when I am changing or showering, I don’t hide my body. I may not love every single stretch mark or lack of abs, but they don’t hear that. They see me comfortable enough with who I am, and the hope is that they feel it as well. When one of my girls is upset or scared about something, I like to say this: “We are brave, strong girls.” It is the simplest sentence to say, but I can’t tell you how many times it has calmed them down or gotten us all through a moment of hardship. I let them know they need someone who is just as brave and strong, and anyone who isn’t doesn’t deserve them either. Seeing me cry over a life event isn’t showing them weakness, it shows them I can voice my feelings. It starts with me, as much of it started with my mother, grandmothers, aunts, and teachers. Watching them achieve degrees, special recognition, strong relationships, and confidence allows me to do the same. Those women are the attainable heroines to our stories, and we are teaching the next generation to be the same.
Not just today when the world may be watching a bit closer, but every day I celebrate the women I know, the one that I am, and the two I am raising.