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Mother of Daughter


The Ups, Downs and Sideways of Working Motherhood

Mother of Daughter

Alex Steinman

After a much needed vacation, I'm back and feeling the feminism. More on #gingerbaby's great California adventure soon. But first, my daughter. With my first pregnancy, I was just excited to find out it was a human. I didn't know how to raise a child, so my abilities to make one slightly less of an asshole than the other was not gender-specific. Now, I still don't know what I'm doing, but I feel much differently both physically and emotionally about the newbie.

I've known this baby was a girl from the second I read the pee stick. She's made me sick, achy and tired in ways my sweet #gingerbaby mama's boy could never do. I'm more emotional, more passionate, and more self-aware with this pregnancy. This little lady knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it.

When she's tired, I sleep (like a narcoleptic). When she's hungry, I eat (a lot). When she needs me to slow down, I stop in my tracks (literally, I have sciatic pain that brings me to my knees at a moments notice).

Even when the doctor confirmed what I already knew, I couldn't wipe the grin off my face for hours. The minute "it" boldly became "she," I felt the need to burn a bra, march in a parade, stop shaving my armpits...ok, these things didn't really happen, and I don't think that's real feminism.

I did suddenly feel a shift in my very existence. My son made me a mother, my daughter made me a woman.

A #ladyboss from my tribe recently sent me a congratulatory email explaining beautifully how she became a feminist when she discovered she was having a daughter. As I read her note, I began to cry (sob loudly in the back of a cab). I too felt a new sense of responsibility to raise this woman differently.

A recent Ted Talk from Girls Who Code'sReshma Saujani explains how we teach girls to be perfect and boys to be brave. We pressure girls to strive for the best, or it's not good enough, and we push boys to leap without looking or calculating the risk. I'm sure I do this subconsciously with my son, and he has the bumps and bruises to prove it.

I want my daughter to get excited about the unknown because with failure, comes learning, growth and the opportunity to kick ass the next time. Like her black mother, she'll often be what Shonda Rhimes calls an F.O.D., or a "First, only, different" person within her teams, classrooms and careers. She'll feel the need to work twice as hard as her peers to reach the same end goal or less. My greatest hope for her is that she sees the journey as a part of the success.

In a world where 62 million girls are not in school, mine will have the privilege of education and strong, female mentorship. Opportunity and leadership are within her reach and not to be taken for granted.

Some will say she is lucky beyond belief, but I don't think luck has anything to do with it. I've done the whole self-doubt thing enough for both of us. If I'm able to demonstrate bravery for my daughter, then maybe she can skip the second-guessing spiral we all go through and take giant leaps to greatness.