When I was pregnant with my first child, I really wanted to have a girl. The idea of all the frilly things was intoxicating. Because I wanted a girl so badly, I believe my subconscious went into overdrive to convince myself that I was having a boy. That way I wouldn’t be disappointed when I found out I was pregnant with a baby boy during the anatomy scan. I was still slightly disappointed, but from the moment I met my son I knew I was the luckiest mom in the world. He is absolutely, undeniably perfect. (Well, anyone who has witnessed one of his tantrums might disagree, but I say if you’re going to throw tantrums you might as well be the BEST at it.)
When I found out I was pregnant with a girl during my second pregnancy, I immediately starting crying tears of joy. And then I started buying dresses. And pricing out Victorian dollhouses. And thinking of names. After the initial excitement dissipated, I started to feel pressure.
First, I realized that having a girl might put an end to my baby-making career. After all, if we were expecting another boy, I would almost certainly try one more time for a girl, but would I try for another baby at this stage in my life now that I was having one of each?
Then I started to feel the pressure of raising a girl … the pressure of raising a woman. Would I be a good example of a woman for her?
My daughter was born last October and she is the sweetest, little doll. I love dressing her in ruffles and bows. I love spending time in her room with the furniture and decorations I would have adored as a child. I love staring at her. But when I look at her, it is in a different way than I looked at my son as a baby. It is not because I love her any more or less than my son, but rather because I feel like I have a bigger responsibility to her. After all, I am the only parent she has with experience being a girl.
As a girl, the thing I worry about teaching her the most is self-confidence because it is something with which I have always struggled. I think about my huge list of insecurities and how they have affected me throughout life. And I hope she doesn’t have the same insecurities. I hope that she has inherited only my good traits – that she has my sense of humor, but not my sense of self. I hope that she doesn’t let moments and opportunities pass her by because she fears rejection. I hope that when she looks at herself in the mirror (literally and figuratively), she sees the best version of herself.
I wonder if there is a manual for raising confident children. But then I also wonder if having a healthy dose of self-confidence is a trait you are born with as much as your brown hair and blue eyes. After all, when I reflect on my childhood, I remember being validated and praised. I was told I could do anything. I was adored.
Perhaps the best thing I can do to instill self-confidence in my daughter (and son as well) is to be kinder to myself and lead by example. And if self-confidence isn’t something that can be taught, well, then I’ll just have to settle for loving her unconditionally and always letting her know how proud I am to be her mom.