Children have a curious way of morphing into people with opinions, some of which are downright illuminating.
One day you wake up and realize that the tiny butterballs who were once an inextricable part of you are actually real life humans with hearts that beat to their own steady rhythm and synapses that fire at their own glorious pace, and when that happens you do a little happy dance because now, after years of thankless butt wiping, they finally have something to teach you.
My revelation came on a Sunday. It was warm – unseasonably so for early March – and Savannah and I had found ourselves on the patio surrounded by discarded shoes and broken bits of chalk. We’d been discussing Easter – the eggs, the baskets, the bunny – when one pronoun slipup sent my firstborn on a tailspin.
“The Easter Bunny is not a boy, Mommy! She is a girl!” she shouted, the doodled flower at her feet abandoned for more pressing matters. “And you’re a girl and I’m a girl and God’s a girl!”
The moment she said it, I knew she was right. Not a single firework burst in the sky, but I knew it like I know the contour of her face – easily, automatically, and without question. It was a silent, simple knowing. She was a girl, I was a girl, and God was a girl. Of course.
There’s a little church in Sigourney called St. Mary’s where Geoff and I completed our pre-wedding marriage retreat six years ago. As I sat on the patio, my exposed toes pointing towards the welcome sun, I thought of the mural at its altar – Jesus’s mother, no older than myself, eyes closed in grievous reflection. I remembered how it felt to see a woman up there, to know that my prayers were falling on a female’s ears – someone who understood the fragility of marriage and the judgment of women and the weight of family. Someone who knew the misery of a period, for God’s sake (pun absolutely intended).
It was my first taste of sisterhood, and I haven’t forgotten it.
I don’t consider myself a feminist (mostly because I still appreciate a held door and paid dinner every now and then), but there’s something brilliant about surrounding oneself with empowering women – divine or otherwise. I want my daughters to bask in the company of religious entities that speak their feminine language and childhood icons that share their powerful gender.
I want them to feel what I felt six years ago every single day of their lives.
The miraculous thing is that they already do, completely in spite of me.
“They’re girls, Mom,” Savannah huffs one last time before returning to her sidewalk art. “They’re all girls.”
I don’t need to teach them a woman’s worth.
I simply need to let them teach me.