*Note: I wrote this several months ago. Since then the mom whose shower I attended gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on my birthday!
Several weeks ago I went to a United Methodist Women's meeting at the home of one of the women from my church. There were seven of us there. Six of us were moms. Five of us have girls. We started talking about raising girls and about how we can counter all the negative messages that girls seems to receive, particularly the messages that the way we look is of utmost importance.
My friend R told the story of being on vacation. She, her husband, and her daughter (who is Joshua's age) were in a restaurant when one of the patrons commented that R's daughter is "such a pretty little girl!" Another patron within earshot said, "And I bet she's smart, too!" Even strangers are trying to make sure that we send our little girls the right message.
I've been intentional lately about how I speak to Clare. I realize that, at seven weeks, she's not picking up much other than, "There's that lady yakking at me again." But I want to get into the habit of giving her the messages that I want her to receive. I picked her up from a diaper change today and said, "You're such a pretty little girl!" I caught myself and continued by saying, "And smart, and witty, and kind, and clever!"
This evening I was at a baby shower with several of the women who were at the UMW meeting I mentioned before. One of them had her one-year-old daughter along. During her explorations, the daughter made her way over to where I was sitting. "Oh A" I said, "What a pretty little girl you are..." I caught myself again. "And generous and thoughtful..."
Pretty soon all of us were chiming in.
Maybe if we all start in our own little corners of the world we can start sending the message to our daughters that what we look like isn't the most important thing about us, that we don't have to have "stuff" to make other people like us, and that we can be OK just the way we are.