On raising a girl …

 

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A woman whose name I never got and whose face I cannot remember though I can picture exactly where she was seated as the stylist blew out her said said “you will never regret it is you do, but you might if you don’t” The overheard topic was babies. Should I have one, specifically, should I have another baby. I longed for a third baby, just one more. Honestly, it was as if I could feel her little soul floating over my shoulder whispering in my right ear “well, I’m waiting.”

I knew she would be a girl; though I made the nurse on the other side of the line tell me three times. “I have boys” I said repeatedly “Are you sure?” “99.9% sure, Mrs Dulli. These tests are nearly foolproof” I could hear her smile through the phone as I rested my hand on my already swollen belly, at just ten weeks it was hard to believe, and the boys danced around me in the living room. Still, I told her, I wasn’t buying anything until I saw it on the monitor. Seeing is believing. 2 months later there she was, crystal clear on the big screen TV monitor. Perfect, and wiggly, definitely a girl. “BRING ME ALL THE PINK!” I joked to my husband as we left the high risk doctor.”Yeah!” He replied “Let’s Pepto Bismol the whole place!”

Tonight, nearly three, she snuggles in the nook of me and cries a little as she falls asleep. She almost always cries, sounding as if she is in pain, as sleep takes over while I shhhhh and stroke her hair. She frequently wags a finger to the ceiling and says “no, no, no, no!” Sometimes she is so upset that I tell that ceiling to leave my baby alone; she doesn’t like it. Eventually she sighs and grows heavy against me. She smells of apples , her hair softer than silk. Her beloved, ratty Bunny held close as her breathing becomes deeper and deeper. I look up, past the ceiling and beg God to keep her safe. All of them. My three.

But my girl. I know what happens to girls. So especially my girl, I ask God. Protect her. Keep her safe.

And God forgive me for what I will do if someone truly hurts her. If someone does to her what was done to me, to so many of my friends. To so many strangers on the internet who share and support. Varying shades and levels of abuses and traumas. The systemic breakdown of self esteem and self preservation. The undermining of knowing we are right to say no. To fight back. We teach our girls to be small, then we punish them when they are overtaken.

She is now small in stature but not in spirit. She is tough; she has two older brothers who both protect her and put her through boy boot camp. She is all girl, pink and sparkles and ballet; but mess with her and she will neck punch you before you know it. She’s a tiny pink bad-ass. I say past the ceiling to God, I vow that I will not let this be beat out of her. Every day I watch as the world rolls back progress. It is terrifying.

I turn my head, inhaling her sweet scent and kissing her delicate forehead and ask one last time for her protection. And for grace and temperance for myself.

 

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