this is six: the reboot

Six years ago to the minute (it is now 8:55 PM), after about 7 hours of labour, I was fully dilated and about to start pushing. By 9:05 pm, I had delivered my second child, a girl. Our perfect, full-term, straight to the breast, easy-peasy girl. When my husband first told me that she was a girl, I felt two things. Panic and complete and utter surprise.

And then panic again.

How was I going to raise a girl? I only know boy stuff. I have a house full of boy stuff. I know how to change boy diapers. I can DO boy. And I fully expected to be doing all that boy stuff again with our second one - hence the surprise part of my feelings.

Under the surprise and the joy was the panic though. That first night, she latched on to my breast within 45 minutes of being born and only came off for a quick wipe down and check by the nurses. She suckled all night long (her big brother had kept my supply going throughout my pregnancy so there was no real waiting for my milk to come in). And while she did, I stared at her. I stared and marvelled and traced every inch of her tinyness and fell in love.

And yet, the panic was still there.

It wasn't so much the logistics of caring for a newborn girl baby that had me all tied up in knots (although the amount of dirty diaper wiping needed for girl babies versus boy babies is vastly under-reported in all the baby books!), it was the whole concept of RAISING a girl in this world that had me feeling ALL the anxiety. It was the feeling of being a previously (and most likely still) slightly broken girl raising another girl. That first night, all the thoughts of what her life would be consumed me.  I thought of how I was going to manage to not pass on to her all of my own issues with self-esteem and self-worth? Of how I would be able to help her navigate a world that automatically sees her as an other, just for being born a girl? Of how I was going to be able to help her through the mean girl years - teaching her both how to not be one and how not be picked on by one? But mostly, I thought of how this was the universe telling me that what goes around comes around. That she was going to be my mini-me and I had better be prepared for that.

Dear Universe. I do so hate it when you are right.

She is a mini me.

Except, it's in all the best ways possible.


And while I still panic every now and then about raising my daughter in this messed up world of ours, it is somewhat less than what it was on that first day when I held her and stared at her for 24 hours straight. Not because our world is any less messed up than it was then, but because I am. And because I am fixing the broken parts of me, the ones that tell me that I am not good enough, not strong enough, not {insert ingrained pattern of belief here) enough, I am in turn raising a girl child whom I hope will never internalize those kinds of beliefs about herself.

At six years old, my own world came crashing down around me as my parents split up. No one was able to tell me why in a way that made sense to my then six-year old brain, and the messages about myself that I have carried with me ever since have been ones of low self-worth and un-lovableness. It is hard to unlearn 30-plus years of patterned beliefs about one's self. BUT...  Because I see so much of myself when I look at my daughter now, in those hard parenting moments {and in the good ones too}, I get to stop and think of what six-year old me needed to hear those very many years ago and say those things to my own child.

I want the words that my daughter hears me speak to and about her now, to become the voice that she hears in her head as she grows up.

Loving words. Forgiving words. Kind words.

That is my birthday wish for her today and all her days.

My beautiful life lesson.

My gift from the Universe.

My girl.