Now that I am a stay at home mommy I have primary responsibility for teaching my daughter. I feel like I am doing a pretty good job. I am working on her ABC's and 123's, her colors and her shapes. We were rocking and rolling with our various field trips and fun playdates. Life was fine. But then something hit me...
When my sweet Pepper and I completed various craft projects my first comment was, "We are doing this for Daddy!" It became a daily comment. Then I noticed I was saying it about everything:
"Let's clean the house so it's nice for Daddy."
"Daddy will fix it."
"Let's paint Daddy a picture."
"Give Daddy the project we made him."
"Did something hurt you? Daddy will take care of it."
Innocent, right? Well, in all fairness, it was innocent. But I realized that I was molding my daughter to believe all we [women] do in life are projects or activities for Daddy, a man. They [men] come in and save the day! Now don't get me wrong... I LOVE that my Pepper has a wonderful male role model in her life. Her Daddy is absolutely spectacular. But it was like I fast-forwarded her life 20+ years and saw her working hard to please men and seeing women as a lesser being. I saw her thinking she couldn't be a strong female lead like her male counterparts. I saw her thinking male dominated fields were "just a fact of life" and I saw her settling for less than her abilities. Maybe my thinking was extreme but it was enlightening nonetheless.
As I looked back over my life I noticed how hard it has been for females to get along and/or work for each other but how easy it is for women to follow men. Maybe it's because we grew up trying to please our fathers and fighting with our mothers. We looked to our brothers and our fathers to protect us, you know, being "the weaker women" we were. We grow up being criticized for our tender female hearts and learn to accept our brothers who were void of emotion. My husband and I had great intentions but fear our outcome was not what we wanted. So we changed things.
I pulled out my toolbelt and started fixing broken toys. He started having her color pictures or create projects for Mommy. When she falls we both help her "tough it out". When her heart feels tender, together, we mend it. We aren't doing any role reversals or other life-altering changes. We are just aware. And we hope that our awareness helps her realize that she has the power to do or be anything she desires... regardless of the fact that she's a girl.