*This is a post I wrote several months ago, and never posted. Since my daughter turned one this week, I feel it is time to share.
My infant daughter sleeps, sprawled across the bed, in the starfish position, with arms and legs outstretched, taking up as much space as possible. She is no delicate flower, measuring in the 80-90% percentiles for length and weight. Truly, she is the definition of a flourishing baby. I grin down at her, musing on who she will become.
I hope she stays this way, unashamed to take up as much space as possible, unapologetic and proud to fully encompass whoever she becomes.
I was a shrinker, the type of child that while small in stature and weight, also made herself appear smaller by being shy and an introvert. While I was an A+ student, I did not have many friends, and social interactions were painful for me.
In truth, I lived too much in my head, worrying about what others thought of me. I lacked the confidence and self-esteem to be something more.
I do not want that life for my daughter. She does not have to be the life of the party, or the most popular girl in school, but I would like her to be more of an extrovert than I was, because society is easier on extroverts than introverts. If you are too quiet, people start thinking something is “wrong” with you. I do not want her to feel like she is less than others, simply because she is different.
Every parent wants their child to flourish and succeed in life. It is only natural. As a mother, I relate more to my daughter than my son. The burden of being a good role model and guiding my daughter’s development and self-confidence, while not weighing her down with my own insecurities, falls heavily on my mind.
As a woman, I do not want her to ever think that she is the “weaker sex” or not as valuable as a man. In time, I will tell her and teach her everything that a mother should.
There will be conversations on body image, and the difference between outer and inner beauty. She will know that she is beautiful, whether she is a size 2 or a size 20.
I will encourage her passions, wherever they lie, be it academics, athletics, music, or some other creative endeavor. She will be free to explore her interests and talents, without judgement from me.
It sounds so cliché saying it out loud, but I truly want her to be who she is meant to be. She is not an object or someone’s belonging. She is a fully formed person, an everlasting soul.
She is only mine for a short while, to guide and shape and prepare to face the world. Then I must release her, trusting that I have done my job as a mother, trusting that she is ready to take on the world.
But for now, she sleeps peacefully, sprawled across the bed, in the starfish position. A star in her own right.