“You’re lucky you have boys.” When faced with all the negative female imagery out there in the world, the sexism, the misogyny, it sometimes seems less daunting to raise the XY chromosomes of the world. But, as a responsible MOB (mom-of-boys) it’s essential that my sons form their beliefs about women early and often. I’m their primary female role model, I need to work hard to make sure they grow to respect women in all of their glory.
1. Women are strong: I am fit and healthy and active. The boys see how much I love physical activity. They see how thoughtful I am about what I put into my body and how I expend my energy. They know what a healthy strong woman looks like. They will never see me diet or obsess about my weight. They will learn how a healthy lifestyle leads to happiness. And that real women love food and have a healthy relationship with their body.
2. Women are winners: I won my first medal this year. And my children were AMAZED. J wanted to know how I got a “real gold medal”, what I did to earn my prize. And, X told his friends that his mom won the race (I came in third in my age group… whatever) Their mom competed and won and could totally beat a boy if she wanted to.
3. Women are fearless: I take on challenges and overcome my fears. I’m not afraid to try something new. I am no shrinking violet, I will not back down from a challenge. I’ll kill a spider, and shovel up a dead animal, and do all sorts of disgusting things without an “ewww” or a “yucky.” And, I’m certainly not afraid to make a fool of myself. I’d rather swallow my fear and pretend to be tough, then let my kids thinks that girls are “scaredy cats.”
4. Women are fun: I am adventurous and always game. I think of fun things to do and great games to play. When the boys say, “Mom, can you….” I try to always say, “Yes.” And, when they say they are bored, I try to find something exciting to do. I’ll sing and dance, make a movie, climb a tree, have a snowball fight. And, I’ll laugh a lot. And maybe even embarrass them a bit. Because, girls are funny and great to hang out with.
5. Women are independent: I can take care of myself. I climb when I need something over my head. I pump my own gas. I know how to use power tools. When we work on the house we work on it together. I’m an equal partner in the maintenance and the upkeep of our home. I love my man, but I don’t need my man, and I hope my boys never feel the need to have a woman who needs them.
6. Women are fierce: I speak my mind. I’m not to be trifled with. I’m a hard headed woman. And I hope my sons learn to respect women like me. I hope that they realize that women are their equal and cannot be taken advantage of. And when they come across a strong woman, they never think of her as bitchy or bossy, but know how to go toe-to-toe with her with all the respect she’s afforded.
7. Women are smart: I can help them with their math and science homework and build a robot or figure something out on the computer. I can learn new things and integrate new information into my life. I can teach myself how to do things and teach my boys how to love science and math, history and literature. And a smart woman is an attractive woman, and not intimidating at all.
8. Women are beautiful: In every shape and in every way. Women are beautiful whether they’re wearing make-up or not, wearing a dress or not, wearing pink or not. I will be in my family’s pictures and not be embarrassed by a less than flattering shot or a close up that shows my laugh lines. A beautiful woman radiates from the inside and shines. Every woman (every person for that matter) is beautiful in their own way, and my boys will learn to look for that beauty.
9. Women are capable: I do not “throw like a girl.” I am good at being in charge. I’m skilled in a million different things and if I’m not, I’ll learn. No one can tell me that I can’t accomplish what I put my mind to. I know how to accept assistance and I know how to ask for help. But, I also know how to do anything a boy can do, and I might do it better.
10. Women can have it all: The other day, J told me he wished he could be me. That made me proud. I work hard to have the kind of life that my boys can strive for. A life that’s full of meaningful work, great family, amazing friends, and lots of fun. A life where I make my own rules and make time for the things that are important to me. A life where I’m not chained to the kitchen or the boardroom, where I have balance and fulfillment.
Someday, my sons will move past their “snips and snails and puppy dogs tails” phase and be able to talk to girls. When that time comes, they’ll be equipped with all the knowledge they need to embrace a modern woman. Will they always understand us? No. We’re quite complicated. But, they’ll at least know the archetype and maybe, someday be strong enough to love a lady just like their mom.