A few weeks ago, as I browsed through one of the few parenting forums that appear in my inbox (one of the few that I actually read), I came across one mother's lament on how much more difficult she found it to raise girls compared to raising boys. She asked for advice whilst wondering if anyone felt this same way. The answers she received where varied but it started to grow a thought in my mind that has been germinating for some time.
I have heard this concern several times, that girls are more challenging than boys and as a mother of two girls and one boy I have always mused slightly over this theory but never given much time to form my own opinion. My son, who is my eldest, is full of boy energy and spirit and keeps my husband and I constantly spinning on our toes. I tend to forget that there exists this idea, 'out there', that boys are easier. When my days are spent running after the adventures and antics initiated by my son it is difficult to imagine that boys are easier! Lately however, I have given time to this thought and have realised that I find this philosophy rather heartbreaking, because girls are, without question, precious gems, radiating magic and light.
I am not an expert on raising girls, my girls are in fact just past toddler-hood, but I am a girl, I have two sisters and although I do not have the experience to give advice on girl raising specifics I have discovered I possess a foundation that I fall back on as a woman and without even considering it I find that I am continually striving to build such a foundation in the hearts of my girls even as they are babies.
One of our greatest strengths as women is our ability to connect; through intuition, emotion and nurturing. We connect this way with our families, our children, our friends and our communities. We are able to bring healing and insight to our relationships. We nurture our spouses, our children and our homes. We bring heart, spirit and strength to life in a way that is unique only to women. But as this side of our character is one of our greatest strengths; sadly, it seems that it can also be one of our greatest weaknesses.
How easy it is to allow this deeper, richer side of our hearts to sour and weaken. How easy it is to just feel sad and force everyone around us make room for this feeling. How easy it is to use our ability to 'connect' as a tool to create and manipulate situations and relationships so they suit us and our moods. How easy it is to express weaknesses to our mothers and our husbands whilst completely expecting them to not say anything and just comfort us.
This is such a sad version of what is the most beautiful side of femininity and womanhood. It is such a waste of our greatest strengths and virtues.
So, as raise my girls I try to teach them to choose joy. Of course, we take time to feel genuine sadness, watch it, grow through it, release it and then, when we feel it lessen, we choose joy.
As cute as it is, and I admit that I too see this cuteness, when a three year old puts out her beautiful lip, softens her enchanting eyes and whimpers for attention; I shake my head. "no my darling, it is not kind to behave this way."
I try to demonstrate kindness, gentleness and strength as I mother my children, nurture my husband and bless my home.
When I am tired and weary and feel sad, I dig deeper, looking...looking...looking for the strengths of the women who have gone before me. My great, great grandmother, who lost her husband when she was just 28 finding herself raising three small children alone, and then losing her adult daughter in childbirth finding herself again raising grandchildren and then great grandchildren alone. I look in myself for the strengths of all the mothers of my mothers, who birthed and loved and lost and laughed and healed.
I am trying to raise rubies; nurturing the gems that are my daughters. Trying to teach them always that it is beautiful to be a woman and that our strengths and magic and spirit connect this world in a spectacular way. I do not know if it is indeed more difficult to raise girls but the weight of its significance is tremendous.
Let us, as women, not be soured, let us choose joy, let us be strong, let us love.