About six months ago I started a job I am not sure that I am fully qualified to undertake- raising a girl.
Just reading that sentence back sounds like the first line of a voice over for a bad single-dad RomCom (with a working title‘My Wife Died of a Rare Disease and Now I am Left to Raise Our Daughter and I Don't Understand Tinder’)…and that guy from How I Met Your Mother would be signed on for the lead.
Anyway, Prime Ministers, CEO’s, Military Generals and Russian Medical workers often undertake jobs with no real idea of what they are doing. Plus I am sure most parents would say that when it comes to kids, you never fully feel that you have a good handle on the door to their wellbeing.
What I mean when I say that I am unqualified to bring up this little lady is, that as a male, I am fundamentally missing the context of what lies ahead of me.
It started with the first nappy change. Two babies deep into parenthood and this should have been a basic task. However it wasn't to be. Everything became much harder, but also clearer, with the insight of front-to-back (wiping).
Sounds logical and hygienic when you really think about it, but it was this fact that gave me the realisation that I was now dealing with a completely different make and model.
As a father, when your firstborn is a son, it is a newer, younger model, but still the same make of vehicle. You know how to change the oil and rotate the wheels if needed! But when you are presented with a look under the engine of a little femlet, it can be overwhelming and reduce your mechanical knowledge to less than that of an Amish farmer.
This new wiping process also had me quickly purchasing shares in the Pharma company that makes baby wipes. I assume every time a front-to-backer (my new shorthand for a female) is born, a significant piece of the Amazon is lost to paper logging.
The front-to-back thing really had me thinking about what was my philosophy for bringing up a young woman? I had a clear idea of what sort of man I wanted to raise with Arch, but what about this one? Who was she to be?
I consulted wifey as she is both a F.T.B’er and an amateur feminist. We talked through a few concepts and it turns out, in the spirit of equality, many of things we want for our oldest boy, we also want for her.
A well-rounded approach to life with exposure to sport, music, design and creativity. A love for food, travel and the Geelong Football Club. A head for politics and social issues and a strong faith and a grasping of the grace of God. Along with all that, an excellent sense of fun and humour.
But it still didn't quite clarify or perhaps even simplify it in my mind. For Arch I want him most of all to be broadly capable. This means being a well-rounded young man, broadly capable of doing any of the things that he wants to achieve or those he shares life with require of him.
Often culture teaches young women that their bodies are for visual consumption and they often gear a worldview towards maintaining and presenting it. Often this comes at a cost to their enjoyment or satisfaction with life and themselves. Their bodies become a duty or a source of detachment.
However we teach boys that their bodies are a machine, that food is practical thing for fuel and that if they care for it right, they can conquer the world. Their bodies are a source of strength.
Why should we continue to tell our young girls to only worry about keeping their vehicles washed and waxed, when our boys are taught to maintain and service their engine for a better drive?
So I resolved to raise Willa to be strong. Strong in who she is, what she has to offer the world and others, in her faith, ideas and passions, strong in her relationships and strong in her body.