I don’t know if I’ll ever have children. If I do, it won’t be for any time soon. Somedays, I imagine that I’d love to create something that is both a part of me, but larger than me. A human that can be better than I’ve been. That can, in his or her own way, change the world. Other days, I’m reminded that I can barely take care of myself most of the time, and the thought of ever caring for another human scares the shit out of me. When I imagine it, though, it feels natural. It feels right. Because, contrary to what I say now, growing up all I ever wanted was to have a family. My own family. Whether or not it happens, I use these moments to reflect on my own daily practices. When I’m feeling particularly down about something entirely superficial, I ask myself what I would tell my daughter if she came up to me with a similar problem. I think about what I would tell her. And if what I would tell her isn’t what I’m telling myself, welt then I know that I’ve been unfair in my words or actions.
If I have a daughter, I’ll tell her it’s important to take care of herself. To treat herself the way that she deserves. This means taking some time off when the world gets a bit too loud, a bit too anxious. Stepping back whenever she feels overwhelmed and doing something that she loves. Staying in if she needs to refresh her batteries, even if it means forgoing what might be a fun social event. I’ll tell her that she needs to eat well to fuel the body that moves her from place to place. That she needs to work this body in order to be as strong as she can be, as healthy as she can be. I’ll remind her that with the balance of a healthy body and mind, she could do anything.
If, someday, I have a daughter, I will raise her to be better than I’ve been. To be stronger. To be more capable in the face of men who want to decide what her body is worth.
I have a daughter, we’ll read all of my favourite childhood stories together, but I’ll be sure to tell her that she doesn’t need a man to save her. She can be her own knight.
If I have a daughter, I’ll warn her that there’s a barrage of people waiting to tell her she’s not good enough for a variety of arbitrary reasons. That they will tell her that she needs to fix every imperfection in order to fit the ‘norm.’ I will warn her against these urges. Because I will see every piece of her as perfect. “If there’s something you want to change,” I’ll say, “make sure it’s for the right reasons.”
If I have a daughter, I will never tell her that she throws like a girl. Runs like a girl. I will her tell her “these statements assume that what you do is somehow inherently worse than a similar action taken by a man. This is stupid.” Instead, I’ll tell her to run like running will somehow make her fly. To run with abandon. To push her body to its limit, and then come home to tell me about what she’d seen along the way.
If I have a daughter, I’ll tell her that she comes from stubborn blood. Hot headed blood. Wild blood. Blood that aches for open spaces and fights against any sort of cage. Blood that sometimes causes her to speak without first thinking of the consequences. Blood that causes her to dream endlessly of lives lived in other places, other times. “Sometimes,” I’ll say, “it might feel like it would be hard to love someone with blood like yours. Don’t worry. Someone will.”
If I have a daughter, I will never tell her that what she’s feeling doesn’t matter. I’ll never make less of her emotions, or make her feel like having them is some sort of crime. I’ll tell her, “I know how much the weight of unsaid words can crush you. Always say what you need to say. Feel what you need to feel. What you’re going through is not invalid just because people elsewhere are going through things, too. Be sad. Be angry. Know how to work through your emotions. And know, that no matter what, you can come to me.”
If I have a daughter, I will teach her that the world, even with all of the hate and negativity, is a beautiful place. Because it’s something I have to believe. And maybe, if we can convince our children of the beauty of the world that surrounds them, they won’t have to convince their children of all the things we’ll need to convince to ours.
If I have a daughter, she’ll have the sea in her veins and the stars in her eyes and she’ll be the most wondrous thing I’ll ever lay my eyes on.
If, if, if.