Dearest Super Toddler-
Yesterday you turned 2 and a half. That little half a year is the only thing half about you; everything else is all the way, all the time. You have a boldness that I think has been seen last when Genghis Khan invaded Eurasia. While this sometimes causes your brothers to riot and requires a peacekeeping ability that rivals the U.N., I wouldn't want you any other way. I hope you keep your loud power long into your adulthood. Experience will soften it slightly, but I hope it never fades entirely.
I want to tell you that the world is no different for men and women and that you can forge forth in any direction you chose. I want to tell you that the college-attending of your great-grandma, the bra-burning of your grandma, and the brave efforts of all your female ancestors to be given equal rights with men have provided you with a world that is your oyster. (I am using bra-burning as a colorful example, please don't ask your Grandma if she wears undergarments or not.) I want to tell you that you will always be viewed as a complete and total person when you leave this house and not as a representative of your gender or as an object to be ogled and used. I want to, but, sadly, my darling, I can not.
The world has made incredible progress, and it will make more, even during your short childhood. But the truth remains that men and women are treated differently in this world. So are people of other races, socio-economic statuses, and sexual orientations, but you will learn (and change) all that with time. These are huge issues that even your mother will fail at explaining to you. (I know, crazy, right?!) Once free and out in the world, you will have to discover most of this injustice for yourself. And, as I hope I have raised you right, you will hate it, rail against it, and work to change it for the rest of your life. Or maybe it will all be fixed by then; miracles do happen. You will discover this in time, but not today. Today, I have smaller goals in mind.
Today, I want to talk to you about your girlness. Because your girlness isn't bad. It isn't anything to be ashamed off, wished away, hidden, or fought. (Nor is your brothers' boyness, but I am writing them a different letter. Maybe they'll let you read it, but you have to stop ripping up their books if you want them to trust you with their things....)
Your girlness is not now, and never will be, half of anything. YOU ARE NOT HALF OF ANYONE.
People are going to tell you, probably very soon, that girls are this way and girls are that way. People will tell you that you have to learn how to cook. People will tell you that you have to wear makeup. People will tell you that you have to be good at math. People will tell you that you can't be good at math. People will tell you that you can't play guitar. People will tell you that you have to play soccer. People will tell you tons of things. Some of it will be super crazy, like "girls have to like princesses and dresses and pretty things." And some of it will be subtly crazy, like "Girls are better than boys and should be able to hit them whenever they want." And some of it will just be flat-out crazy, like "You have to be this way or you aren't a girl" or "you are half of a man." It's all crazy.
Your girlness is deep in the heart of you and it is totally and completely unique. It looks like no one else's girlness. It is solely yours; yours forever. It will grow and morph and change in unimaginable ways; taking you from Pippi Longstocking all the way to Miss Marple. It isn't anyone else's to dictate. It has little to do with anyone else, but what it does do is connect you to a wondrous lineage of women that goes back millenia and travels a road so varied and magical I could never truly describe it to you. The invisible threads that tie you to your world sisters are unbreakable, and while there are some you will want to cut, someday you will be thrilled to have such a sisterhood at your back. And by your side.
For I am here, behind you. Ready to catch you. Ready to push you. Ready to hand you a sandwich, anytime you need. But I am not alone. Grandma is here with me. So is Babcia. And Great-Grandma. And all your aunts and great-aunts. And the Greats that you never met. And the Greats that I never met. And Maya Angelou. And Charlotte Bronte. And Jane Addams. And Elizabeth Blackwell. And Sonia Sotomayor. And Julia Child. And Margaret Mead. And the first mother who ever cradled her daughter to her chest, singing softly as she gazed at her adoringly. And the first daughter that took off running across the fields to her own destiny, but paused just for a minute to gaze back and wave. We are all here for you. Anytime you need us. Anytime you want a reassuring smile or supportive hug. Anytime you want some advice. Anytime you don't want some advice but need it anyway. Anytime. Sometimes finding your girlness can be scary and lonely, and you might want to check in. Or you might be hungry. Believe me, we will want to feed you.
But you won't always have to look backwards. Right now, Phenomenal Toddler stands next to you and she will soon be joined by a sisterhood of your own choosing. Legions of girls as different as the rocks you have been collecting on our walks. Each one special. Each one tied to you with an invisible thread of sisterhood. An army of girls who aren't marching to war, but off to make a world that doesn't need war. I trust you. You will pick good sisters. It's easy in this world of wonders.
You aren't half of anyone or anything, my beautiful daughter. But a total and complete person who gets to decide who that total and complete person is and will become. You are already there, my bold flower, but if you fall and forget for any reason, we are here to catch you. And we all love you.
But I love you the most-
Your beauty is extreme and total,
and it is the least of your many gifts.