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  • To My Daughter: International Women’s Day

    2013 - 03.09

    Dear Nadia,

    Today isn’t a special “milestone” day for you, so this is kind of a bonus letter. You’re now 7 weeks and 3 days, or 52 days old. In a week, you’ll be two months old. Those numbers blow my mind. In some ways it feels like you’ve been  with us forever, and in other ways it’s like I breathed and suddenly you’ve grown out of your Sesame Street sleeper. (note to self: get new Sesame Street sleeper in age 3-6 months)

    But I actually wanted to talk about other women today, not just us (although I’ll definitely get back to us). Today is International Women’s Day and that’s really important on a lot of levels. It was only a few generations back that women had very, very few choices in our part of the world. Your Urli (my Oma, so your great grandmother) went to university as a girl, but that was very unusual at the time, and once she was married, she didn’t work. Your Oma (my mother) had a lot more choices of occupation, but it was a lot more difficult to branch out beyond a certain number of jobs. I had even more choices! I could be anything I wanted, although even today women are significantly under-represented in politics, high level management, science and mathematics jobs. I can’t wait to see what you decide you want to do for your career, and hopefully you will find it even easier to find your passion and do what you love. (Although your Dad has already decided that you’re going to be an astro-paleontologist and discover/study space dinosaurs. I’m ok with that…just make sure you pack a lunch. And don’t push that red button that says “Don’t Push”.)

    In the time it’s taken me to write the above, I’ve changed you, fed you and soothed some of the squawks that have come from your bassinet. I’m so lucky that I get to choose to stay home with you and be your mom. That’s something that has only been a choice for women for the last fifty years or so, and in many places, it’s still not a choice. I’ve chosen to nurse you and cloth diaper you, choices that weren’t available fifty years ago. That’s what is so amazing about this world…I don’t have to do what “everyone” does. Instead, we all get to figure out what works for us.

    Your Dad and I are trying really hard to keep you out of any society-inflicted, pre-determined destinies. Right now, that’s small things. We dress you in orange, pink, blue, green, yellow, red, purple, black, white…all the colours of the rainbow and then some. You own a pink tutu (although it doesn’t fit you yet), denim overalls, a rocket ship diaper cover, a dinosaur onsie and a bubble gum pink sleeper with a mouse in a hair bow on it. You also have a purple, sparkly headband with a giant purple daisy on it.

    When you get older, you’ll have the choice of different activities. If I get my way, you’ll be in martial arts, gymnastics, art and music classes and creative writing. (Not all at once though. That’s crazy.) Your Dad would probably be thrilled if you were in soccer and skating. We’ve decided you’re taking swimming lessons…sorry, but you don’t get a choice there. You’ll also have lots of toys, and you’ll get to tell us what you like and we’ll do our best to get that for you, whether it’s a dollhouse or a helmet and sword. (I would have written the same thing to you if you had been a boy.) Maybe you’ll decide that you love dance, soccer and building model rockets, and that’s fine too (as long as I can launch rockets with you, because seriously? Rockets are AWESOME.)

    I have to admit, I was a little bit worried in the hospital when your Dad announced that you were a girl. I still am, but am more confident now. I worry about body image issues, and your future partner(s). Your Dad and I joke about how you aren’t allowed to date until you get married, but we both know that’s unreasonable, just because you’ll probably wind up with his stubbornness and my sense of adventure. With any luck you’ll also inherit my complete inability to lie convincingly and we’ll be able to keep tabs on you for a little longer at least. I think I’m less worried about your future partner(s) than your Dad is, because I know that children model their relationships after what they see in their own home, and your Dad is a pretty awesome guy who loves both of us very much.

    Women in Canada have only been allowed to vote since 1918, less than 100 years from when you were born. That seems like an awfully long time in some ways, but it’s such a short time. So much has changed, even from when I was a baby and I can’t wait to see the world that you grow up in and how you are going to make it a better place. You’ve already made our corner of the world a better place, and I know your grandparents and other relatives and friends think so too.

    Love,

    Mum

    PS. I missed New Years this year, so I’m going to make a Women’s Day resolution. I resolve to be a role model of how I want you to be: independent, creative and healthy in body, mind and soul. Thank you for making me a better person.

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