|Isn't it funny that this quote I love is said by a woman who I held my own preconceived notions against? You go Dita, you do your thang.|
We are a few short weeks from your anticipated arrival day, 12 to be exact, and the excitement is building! While I have proudly (and sometimes not so proudly when your brothers were wreaking havoc on everything in sight) waved my Boy Mom flag for the past 5 years; I admit I am quite thrilled to finally add the description of Girl Mom to my resume.
Even before we were aware of your presence I had been dreaming of a little doll to dress up in bows and frill. There's something so warm and cozy about baby girls that as much as I love my boys (I swear I really do a lot!), I have always wanted a girl. When I say always I mean like even before I was married and had kids! I had given up this hope when I thought our family was complete with two boys and was actually pleasantly surprised to see that your brothers had many of the qualities my silly inexperienced 'pre Mom' brain imagined only being in girls. Ali is the most gentle and cuddly boy I know! There are so many random moments when he comes over to kiss my belly or whisper sweet messages to his baby sister just because, I love every bit of it. Adam has a very calm and shy nature, he takes his time to open up to strangers much like his mama! So the news of your arrival sparked that excitement for a baby girl in me all over again and while I could spend all day just to daydream about all the girly girl traits and features you will have, deep inside I know we will love you beyond belief regardless of how 'ungirly' you may turn out to be. Being a mom for so many years now that much I am absolutely sure of. Your family will always love you; mom and dad will never stop loving you. Even on the days when you do things unlovable. Always remember this, just don't abuse it!
So now that we've covered that part, there's so much else I can't wait to share with you! The more years I walk on this Earth the more I realize the world we live in can be a place I want to shield my kids from. The naivety of childhood leaves us a little more as we grow and see the grim reality around us. There are days, and lately there seems like a lot of them, where I wish I could take you all to a little bubble of safety away from the threats of everything evil. There can be a lot of negativity and unkindness. While my first instinct is to protect you all from it, a bigger part of me knows its better if I give you the right tools to face it. Everyone tells boys to toughen up, to 'be a man' and 'face the world'. Its rare to say those words to a girl, everyone wants to help save you or thinks of you too innocent/naive/helpless to do any of that on your own. Even other women! The more I think about raising a girl vs raising boys the more I wonder what sort of mom will I be? I always made sweeping proclamations that my boys would have the same rules any girl would have, how I found it ridiculous that in the same house brothers would have different standards/chores than their female siblings. I would do internal eye rolls at friends who said they didn't want their girls to join sports or be 'too manly' but secretly now I can't wait to put you in ballet class and snap a picture of your little tush in a tutu! All these thoughts create serious moments of internal conflict within your mama's heart! I want to raise that girly girl I always dreamed of, but I want her to be the fiercest strongest bad ass to put her brothers to shame at the same time. And you know what baby girl? YOU CAN BE.
That's right. That's the conclusion I arrive at the more I think about it. We as a society have created many social norms and prejudgment about gender roles, so the world you walk into will have already start shaping its views of how you should be behaving and what you should be doing way before you can do or say any of those things. And that's okay, don't hold your breath on the world changing anytime soon. But, remember one thing your Ammi told you. If the world and its struggles start hurting you, BE that change you want to see. The only way to 'challenge' social pressures is to BE the challenge. One of the hardest realities I've had to swallow about gender roles is that truly many times the world we live in can be a 'Man's world'. Your brothers will find certain advantages and face less hurdles than you will simply because of the physical differences God gave them. You may need to work harder at a job to prove you can do it as a woman, My advice is if the job matters to you DO it. Meet the challenge. More importantly, find other women with you and HELP each other. Another sad reality is that people will judge you based on your looks and superficial qualities. Girl, you are going to be born into an American Pakistani Muslim household, brace yourself for the social issues you're about to face (even if your mom doesn't intend to, I know socially induced biases will come out of me too, I apologize already!). I can tell you some people you meet (especially if they're Desi) will say you are not gori enough (white skinned) or thin or you should wear a hijab/not wear a hijab, you should be more/less traditional and ironically many of these pressures will be coming from other women who claim to hate them! Even more sadly, very few of these pressures will be on your brothers (they will have their own, but not as many as you. sorry). I worry about this a lot sometimes. There was a day I silently prayed that you be light skinned and beautifully featured so the world would be easier for you. But you know what? I apologize for that day. Thoughts like that one is what is wrong with our world already. I know your first and most impactful interaction with social pressures will be at home. And I will try my damned best to not let you or your brothers be affected by the things that have marred Desi or even American society. I will raise you to be kind to yourself or to others. To know a persons worth is not based on something so superficial. Reality is you will go through awkward phases, moments of self doubt and question yourself about many things, I will be there to support you always. Always.
BOTH men and women play a critical role in balancing our world. The problem I see many times is that women with all our chattiness can many times hurt more than help. As woman we need to strengthen our bond. If saying that that makes me a feminist then that's great sign me up. I am all for us women not pushing social pressures on each other and not raising boys who do that either.
Want to be a stay at home mom? great! want to be a working mom? great! No one makes a big to do out of those two choices for the men in our society. Because you know who's talking the most about it. WOMEN. We just keep talking and knocking each other down somehow. Let's stop talking and just start being.
Not only do we have social pressures on us we have our own internal pressures. Lord knows if you're anything like your mummy you will put A TON of pressure on yourself to please others, to exceed expectations, you will drive yourself and those of us around you cuckoo for everything be simply amazing. I personally think that's great. BE AMAZING. But be FORGIVING too. A lot of times as women we put these insane pressures on ourselves to be: (insert everything but mostly thin, pretty, smart, Susie Homemaker, Betty Breadwinner, etc etc). Pressure is great, it turns rock to diamond but it also can drive you insane. Stop the car before you arrive there. Do things the best you can, but accept that they will have flaws. Be the best damn peach in the pile, but accept that someone may still not want to pick you. That is okay. For some reason, and I find it a great quality to learn from, men don't struggle with this as much as we women do. It's just how we are. We nurture, we organize, we nitpick and worry, we care. Men care too, but most of the men I've met can be way more forgiving on themselves and others than we women tend to be. Men have their own struggles, I see that too. But right now I'm talking about the struggles of women and the kind of woman I hope to raise to you be one day. A woman who does her best at everything she lays her hand on, but is aware and able to handle opposition too.
There is a lot of crazy stuff happening in our world right now (random pause: seriously you never see giraffes or koalas being as mean as we humans are to each other, why? I should've been one of those.) People forcing a certain religious group to be blacklisted and spreading hate against them for the actions of a small deranged population of that religion. What is the problem you ask? What is religion you ask? Your mama thinks religion is fantastic, it is absolutely uplifting and great when used for love. When used for hate it is what we have created as society to divide humanity. People killing other people because those people killed their people so now more people must be killed. Madness, yes baby girl madness is the world at times. This crazy stuff has been happening since the beginning of mankind apparently, so don't be surprised by it but don't let it reel you in either. Choose the path of love always.
Society is made up of the thoughts and actions of its participants. One is not valuable without the other. The kind of girl I wish to raise in this society? Or the kind of girl I hope my boys marry? The kind who is UPLIFTING, CARING, FAIR (in nature not complexion thank you very much), HONEST, STRONG WILLED, GENTLE, SMART, MORALISTIC, FORGIVING, CHEERFUL. Insert ALL positive words from the dictionary. Its obvious these traits are not just meant for girls, they're universal to all of humankind. Perhaps if we start creating a world where we can ACCEPT our differences, but still SEEK our similarities and then REJOICE in our presence on earth we can make a beautiful world where all the ugly evilness just disappears.
I want you kids to be the kind of person (not just boy or girl or American or Muslim or any other social definition of you) who can return back to God and to me one day and say you did good. You dealt with this world with love, even when it pushed you to hate, you chose love. That is all I know God and myself will ever ask of you.