My dear Angel, I remember much before you were even conceived I always had this desire to be a mom of a baby girl first. And when I was pregnant all I could think of was pretty frocks and ribbons and a little baby girl running all over the house. At times I obsessed over having a baby girl so much that I was reminded by your Mama (my younger brother) that what if this is a little boy in your tummy? He may think Mumma doesn’t love me at all. This not a good thing to do. And then I forcefully reminded myself to refer to the baby in my womb as just a baby and not a she/he. Let’s be gender neutral I said to myself but the wish remained.
I couldn’t contain my happiness when I gave birth to you and the first question I asked -Is it a boy or girl? When they told me it’s a girl just as you wanted, I literally wanted to jump with joy. In hindsight I think, I would have been equally jubilant if it were a boy.
This journey of 16 months has been incredible my child and as every Mom does, I wish and pray for the best and only the best for you- in terms of happiness, good health, success, education, family, friends, luck, fortune, money, peace, love. May you find them all and may you stay blessed.
There are those rare times though when I look around at all the women around me right from Mai (My Mom) to Tamu (my grandma), Basamma (our maid) to my colleagues, friends, and so many others around and think- is it easy being a woman? Hell no. Whatever strata of society one belongs to, whatever age, qualification, it is not easy for any of us- physically, mentally, and socially. And then I ask myself- as a mother who always wants the best for her offspring, should I have wished you were born a boy?
1) Right from the time you are born, people judge you by your appearance- Angel has big and beautiful eyes just like you but she looked very fair when she was born, now she is getting darker. Take care and apply channa powder, that way she will be brighter. And don’t let her watch much TV as she grows up else she will have to wear glasses like you. And I wonder would so much of judgment have poured in if you were a boy?
2) As you grow into a young girl, running and playing, laughing and throwing up your head in the air, some of them might tell you- “Hey girl don’t laugh so loudly, that’s not how girls laugh, don’t sit with your legs wide spread, don’t talk back, don’t argue, don’t play in the hot sun. And you may wonder why these are not being told to the boys around.
3) You grow older and enter the storm of puberty; you get your first period. I on my part will make sure you are well equipped to deal with it by imparting the right information to you at a much younger age, the facts shall not be hidden so I would not expect you to be taken by shock and a sense of confusion like I had faced due to lack of knowledge that such a thing even existed. No I will not do that to you. But I still can’t control the cramps, the back aches and the discomfort that you might have to endure. I fervently pray that you go through none of these and have a pain free period , may it be nothing like the nightmare I suffered month on month which made me tear my hair and at times wish I could give anything to take away this pain. Not everyone has it and I hope you are one of those lucky few. At times I think why is it only women who need to go through this? People sometimes use it as a bait to deny us equal opportunities saying you are physically weak and at times our own kin (women) look down upon us saying we are faking it, someone who has not endured it would never how bad it is. I wonder what right they have to levy these accusations. I point a finger at God and say ” this is not fair, whatever happened to balancing the scales”
4) As you grow older, and new people enter your life, “friends” who might be of the opposite sex. No I won’t frown at that cos I have a few of them who are my besties, so why should you be denied the right to explore this awesome relationship whose boundaries are not defined by gender. But I also worry at times about how unfairly you would be judged, whereas the guy friend will not be. You would be termed by some as “too open”. Isn’t this unfair you may ask me and I hate to tell you yes honey it is – “It’s a man’s word”
5) I love dressing you up in shorts and a tee and when you are a big girl and if you still feel at home in these clothes, as much as I would want my daughter to have the freedom to choose what she wears, you may find me stopping you from wearing these when you go out. I don’t know how the world would be 10 years down the line but as a parent I would always worry for your safety.
6) Your safety being forefront in my mind I may stop you from staying out late, attending parties and the reason is not because I don’t trust you honey but because I don’t trust the world and I fear they might harm my princess.
7) As you embark on a new journey in your professional life, you would be full of aspirations and would want to conquer the world. I would stand by you my love, but I know there would be people around who, rather than boosting your morale would ask you the question that every young woman is asked- “so when are you getting married?” Career and all is ok but don’t get too immersed into it and miss out on marrying at the right age. I know you would be strong enough to pay no heed but at times when you look around and see your friends tying the knot and as you wait for the right man, the wait may probably seem too long, I hope you stay strong and don’t let these deter you.
8) You meet Prince Charming and though your wedding day would be the happiest of my life, it would also be a sad day to see you leave this home where we have built so many beautiful memories over the years, makes me think why do daughters have to leave? I do hope and pray you get a good life partner who respects you and values your dreams and you have equally supportive in laws who treat you as their daughter, but I do worry what if this is not true? What if you are not treated as an equal? What if their expectations are that you be the good homemaker and they judge your goodness by the rotis you make instead of your intelligence and other qualities.
9) Then starts the wish for a baby and God forbid the good news takes a tad longer to come, it is always the woman at fault. Either for waiting too long or her sedentary life style and age preventing her from conceiving. How do we jump to such illogical conclusions I wonder?
10) Ah there is a lovely baby – but rather than asking about your health and the baby’s, they would ask if this was a normal or C -section? Did you take epidural? (No capacity to withstand pain) Are you breastfeeding? If not, this is blasphemy? You will be labeled a lazy and selfish mom.
11) And then starts the years of raising a child which would be truly taxing although very wonderful too. You will be judged for everything right from the child being too thin/ fat, to not intelligent enough, rude, noisy, and not good at sports, silent, and so much more. The finger always points at the mother first. You will be called the working mom who doesn’t have enough time for her child or the stay at home mom who sits at home whole day and her child is still not up to the mark.
12) The sunset of life- can you live these golden days per your wishes? I hope so or maybe not. For you may be called upon to fulfill your responsibilities as a grand mom and I really hope you do it only if you truly wish to do it. If you have other plans for yourself, don’t hesitate to say no.
Life is never easy for a woman- sometimes society’s way of judging woman unfairly, for anything that goes wrong its always the woman at fault- she is the one dressed in the short skirt who keeps talking to boys, the career minded woman who neglects her family, the mother who ii at home the whole day yet her children strayed, she paid no attention to her husband that’s why he had an affair, she is the Daughter in law who is responsible for the family separating. The expectation that she is a super woman who should deftly handle everything right from cooking tasty meals, to taking care of the kids, to being the career woman, the trophy wife, the ideal daughter in law, the perfect mom, the doting daughter, the good hostess- Unrealistically high expectations these are. And yes she is expected to be in shape; fit and healthy else she wouldn’t be that epitome of perfection. Menstruation which could be extremely painful for some, child birth, menopause – they say these are borne by women because they are strong but at times I really wish men got a fair share too
Life is not going to be easy my dear but being a woman and having seen my fair share (I am certain there is so much more to come) I would raise you as a strong and confident girl and I wish you sail through all that life dishes out with vigor and only emerge stronger.
(Dear readers this post is just a reflection of a woman’s life, this by no means implies I wish my child was a boy. As mentioned in the start, I always wanted a girl and I am happy God blessed me with a healthy child. I have only used this reference of “My wish you were born a boy” to portray the stark differences in life of a man and woman. I hope you take it in the right spirit)