A girly-girl farm kid
I’ve always been a girly-girl. Growing up on a farm in rural Iowa you’d most likely find me playing Barbies, playing dress up in my grandma’s old clothes, or watching Disney movies. Oh how I longed for my Prince Charming to come riding up and rescue me from the perils of small town farm life. My parents indulged my fantasy world, but made sure I checked in with reality every now and then. On one such reality check, I purposely wore jelly sandals to sort pigs in an attempt to get sent home to change. My dad didn’t even bat an eye, he handed me some work boots and the directions to keep the pigs with ‘pink marks’ from getting by me. I was a farm kid; a farm kid who wore dresses to the horse barn and jelly sandals to sort hogs.
So imagine my excitement when I found out we were going to have twin girls. I was finally going to have my little dolls to dress up and teach the fine art of a proper tea party. The cute clothes, the glitter, the giant hair bows. I could not wait; I was meant to be a mom of girls! And then, as fast as that excitement came bursting out, the crushing reality of this cruel world set in. I had a great childhood: supportive family and friends, active in sports and school activities, and did well in school. But it wasn’t easy, and the emotional turmoil girls deal with is just insane! I grew up in the beginning stages of social media with MSN Messenger and Facebook launched when I was a freshman in college. I remember when text messaging was a new thing and asking myself, Who has time to type a text when you can just call that person?! Oh how things have changed! How would we shield our daughters from this cruel, technology advancing, #MeToo world? Aside from moving off the grid and cutting all ties to the outside world, which we discussed more than I want to admit, we needed a game plan.
And with that, I did what any expectant millennial mom would do: I turned to Google. After many late night Google sessions and hours of reading blog posts dedicated to raising strong, independent girls, I started to see the light and got a tiny sliver of hope. People would ask my husband how he felt about having girls and if we’d try for a boy (I was flabbergasted that they had the guts to ask this while I was still miserably pregnant…because being 53” around and not being able to see my feet for five months was a nonstop party *insert eye roll here*). His response still makes me smile, “Aside from peeing standing up, there is nothing I can’t do with my daughters that is exclusive to having a son.” Slowly I was starting to get some confidence…slowly.
Finding my inner Wonder Woman
I never felt more like a superhero than I did after 12 hours of labor, delivering, and then holding my twin daughters for the first time. Something about becoming a mother gave me the confidence I could conquer anything. I left the delivery room holding these two, tiny angels and felt this power I didn’t know existed. If they had let me in that moment I could have flipped a few cars and fought right alongside the Justice League (After I got the feeling back in my legs and wasn’t needing to sit on an ice pack). I knew in that moment our girls were going to be a force to be reckoned with. I had this new outlook on life and awareness that if I wanted to raise strong, confident, independent young ladies then I needed to lead by example. And my example was going to be Wonder Woman, a fearless feminine bad-ass!
Two and a half years later, I have two toddler tornadoes who prefer being outside to just about anything else. They are whip smart, clever, and have two of the kindest hearts I’ve ever met. Maybe it’s because I have twins, or maybe it’s because I’ve hit a new level of exhaustion, but I don’t sweat the small stuff. Kids fall, they scrape their knees, they are messy, sticky, snot monsters who rarely listen or do anything they don’t want to. They’re going to eat dirt and if you’re lucky a bug or two. We start most of our days in clean, unstained clothes…we end the day looking fresh off the Hot Mess Express. Am I doing everything right? Not even close. Do I get frustrated and silently wish my girls would sit still for just a second? Almost every day. But I encourage them to be themselves, and as long as they aren’t going to hurt themselves, or someone else, to just go for it. I catch myself telling them “No, I don’t think that’ll work,” and they love to respond with “I try?” Sure, go ahead and try to climb that tree, wear two different shoes, or carry in the grocery bags that weigh as much as you do. What’s it going to hurt? Just please stop licking the floor, and keep your hands out of your diaper!
I am well aware we will not be able to shield our daughters from every bad thing out there. But exposing them to a healthy self-image of confidence and self respect, focusing on family and friendships, actively listening and encouraging them, and teaching them the power of kindness, that is how they’ll find their inner Wonder Woman.