I Was a Feminist, Then I Had My Daughter
My Dear Calamity A,
You’re four. The Threenager is gone, and I’m finding it hard to believe. I’m not one for nostalgia, most of the time, but I can’t stop myself from reminiscing back to those early weeks and months, when you were the tiniest, fiercest thing we had ever seen. You still are.
Did you know your Dad used to call you little bear? Because you were so intense when you breastfed, and you chuffed and snorted away, angry and serious about getting food in you. I remember how worried I was that you were so tiny, not appearing to gain weight the way your contemporaries were gaining. But you were so fierce! In the end, we just had to trust that you were getting what you needed.
I always knew I’d have a little girl one day, and there were many things I hoped to be able to share with you. I wanted you to take ballet like I did, I had saved all my Barbies for you to play with, and I imagined we’d be dressing you in bows and tutus and everything pink.
Then I had you, and I found myself wanting to dress you in turquoise onesies, rather than pink frilly ones. I got you a tutu, but I eventually decided I’d rather you try out gymnastics, because you loved jumping and balancing. I made sure your Duplo was multicoloured, not pink. I bought you a Lottie doll, instead of busting out my old Barbies, because I didn’t want you to look at a tiny waist, big breasts, perfect makeup and blonde hair, and wonder why you didn’t have any of those things.
I knew I was a feminist, but it took having a little girl to realize why.
I don’t want to raise a girl who thinks she needs makeup, in order to be pretty. Wanting to wear it and needing to wear it are two different things.
I don’t want to raise a girl who thinks she needs to buy pink things, because that’s how you know they’re for girls. Wanting pink things and writing something off because it isn’t pink are two different things.
I don’t want to raise a girl who only wears dresses and bows. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to wear those things, but I want her to feel comfortable tumbling around in the dirt, as well.
I don’t want to raise a girl who’s worried about what she looks like on the outside, instead of what’s going on inside. Caring about your appearance and caring only for appearances are two different things.
Sweet girl, you need to know that you can be anything you set your mind to. You are a bright, bright flame in our lives. Your humour, intelligence, insight and joie de vivre are a wonder and a blessing. You test me in many ways, and all I hope for is that I pass your tests. I try, and I know that sometimes I fail. But I’ll keep trying.
Love, always and forever,
Glynis Ratcliffe is a singer and writer by trade and a creative soul by birth. Together with her husband, they negotiate parenting a teenager, a threenager and a sweet baby who doesn’t know how the hell he ended up in this mess. Hilarity ensues. So do the meltdowns. Glynis’ writing can be found on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Mid, and BluntMoms. You can find more on her blog, The Joy of Cooking or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.