Why I Continually Choose to Break Through My Fears
I am a mother of a strong-willed, expressive, body-aware, curious, perceptive 3 and a half year old girl. Sometimes, I feel her perception of the world is growing so much faster than I am prepared for.
We had gone to see a show with some acrobat street performers some time ago. She hadn’t even turned 3 yet at the time. They were tumbling from high heights, standing on each other’s shoulders, juggling fire. It was a spectacular awe-inspiring act.
This particular troop were all male. We had seen girls do silk, floor and trapeze acrobatics, yet nothing like so risqué as what this troop had entertained us with.
Later that week, my ballsy 3 year old showed me some downward dog over the top of the bath tub and even three legged dog, and promptly said, “I can’t do this crazy upside acrobatics or yoga because it’s what boys do. Not girls.” I was stunned.
She had seen me do inversions, handstands and downward dogs daily. I told her promptly that girls can do absolutely everything that boys can do, and decided there on the spot to look out for more ‘crazy’ acrobatics performed by women and girls.
This is one tiny example of how accomplishments or activities seen in the public eye and the disparities between how men and women undertake them, DIRECTLY affect our children’s belief about themselves. Imagine ALL the areas of life that women and men both could be accomplished at, yet there are disparities between? And how much these disparities affect the children in our lives! It’s mind boggling to think!
My concern boiled down to what and how my daughter might miss out if society doesn’t continue to encourage boys and girls to take the same risks. Even the most subtle of risks such as expressing an emotion that is ignored or frowned upon.
I have inspired my daughter to be curious about all things, to imagine, to experiment, to connect with others.
Yet I know by looking at the map of society as it is displayed here in Australia at least, that if she continues to not see as many female role models who have achieved success through their intellect, their willpower, their drive and their creativity, in ALL areas of society, she will not feel as confident or as ‘right’ to reach for or even sit in these positions as a boy the same age as her and with similar upbringing, intellect and creativity would.
This fills me with dread, confusion and desperation.
How can a mother support a girl in a world that is still framed in a way that sees girls as not being allowed to take the same level of risk that boys are?
After she finished exploring her bathtub yoga, and we brushed our teeth together, I settled her in to bed that night.
I made it a mission of mine from that point forward, that if there would at LEAST be one woman in her life who could be her role model for risk-taking, drive and success that it would be me.