I'm currently seven months along with our first baby—a long-hoped-for little one who we are so excited to meet. It moves inside me, kicking my ribs and causing all sorts of pregnancy symptoms that nobody warned me about (like heartburn and over-sensitive gums—who knew?).
We’ve decided to wait to find out the gender, but oftentimes I find myself thinking:
“What if it’s a girl?”
The thought both excites me, as I think about bows and ballet practice, and terrifies me, as I think about first dates and heartbreaks. There are fears I hold for what a little girl (and soon a young woman) might encounter in our world.
I know what it was like for me to grow up as a girl in the early 90s, as a young adult in college, and as a woman in my first few jobs. I keenly remember conference-room meetings with a roomful of men where my opinion was heard differently…held with less weight. I can still feel the disappointment when my voice was silenced for the sheer reason that it was female. I remember realizing there was a ceiling on my position in the workplace because there were certain statuses “only held by men.” I remember the pain of being unheard, and the sting of injustice I felt because I knew I had something valuable to say. And my heart breaks for dear friends who have had much more devastating experiences than these, simply because of being female.
Needless to say, the thought “What if it’s a girl?” carries a myriad of emotions for me.
So here I am today, working as a writer (a dream job!), eating Tums like there’s no tomorrow, cradling this growing belly of mine, and thinking about the hopes I have for who this baby will grow to be.
If it’s a boy, I hope he has a heart of kindness. I hope he is strong, quick to empathize, and a champion of his sisters—both those he shares DNA with and those he doesn’t resemble at all, whether because of language or skin tone or socioeconomic status.
If it’s a girl, I hope for many of the same things. I hope she is characterized by strength, kindness, and care for others. But I also hope she has a few things I didn’t have as a young girl. I hope she has courage, a voice, and a place in a world that values her for exactly who she is, for all the beauty of her unique female-ness.
I have a lot of hopes for my future children. And while it’s true that I still worry sometimes for them, I realize that they are entering into a remarkably different world than the one I came into.
I look around and I see men championing women, recognizing their worth, and helping pave the way for their victories. I see strong women, and I recognize with joy the differences we’re making, the world we’re shaping, and the way we’re paving together.
And I realize… I might not have much reason to worry after all.