“I think I’m afraid of her already,” I told my therapist.
“What do you mean by ‘afraid’?”
“I don’t even know, I’m not sure ‘afraid’ is the right word at all. But I feel something foreboding. Something that is like fear.”
I’d been trying to find a word to name the feeling that keeps coming up whenever people ask me if I am just so excited to have a daughter. I mean, I don’t want to say “no” because that’s not true. But “excited” seems not right either. Or maybe it is.
I do get excited as I sort onsies by size and decide which of the boys’ jammies (the ones that don’t say “mommy’s little man”) Alice will be able to wear. Each pair of shoes or dress that someone gifts her makes me smile in a way I never did over all those little man clothes I so love. It’s almost a smooshy, ridiculous smile. The kind you get when you’re twelve and you fall hard for that one boy in class you will never talk to…a dreamy smile.
Imagining headbands and white mary janes makes me turn all goofy in a way I never have before. So I guess I can’t say I’m NOT excited, because those seem like pretty clear indications of excitement on my part.
But there is something else pulling at me.
“You know what I think it is,” I tell my therapist, “it’s that I remember too much.” I was pretty pleased with myself for this breakthrough, but it was clear she didn’t get what I was talking about, but it was becoming clearer in my mind.
I remember way too much of my childhood…of what was rough as a girl growing up. I remember how tough middle school was. I remember the choices in front of me in high school and college. I know what adolescent icky feels like for a girl. I remember all the uncomfortable firsts that felt not just “uncomfortable” but horrible.
With the boys, I don’t have these memories. I was never a little boy, or an adolescent boy, or a teenage boy, or a college boy. I knew many of these boys. I married one, but I was blissfully ignorant to their first-person experiences. I didn’t have to go through it, so as a mom, I could be the facts and support when my boys went through it, but I would never be “re-living” it.
I have never had a desire to have a daughter until I knew there was one in my tummy. The thought of re-living my girlhood is the last thing I ever want to do. In fact, I hate that I can remember so much of those painfully lonely and embarrassed moments so vividly.
It had nothing to do with my upbringing either. My parents were wonderful and loving. No, it had everything to do with just “girl stuff”.
Girl stuff that I has, up until very recently, been shoved to the back regions of my memory never to be brought out unless a Boys II Men song comes on and inadvertently triggers it.
Now I will go through all those stages again via my daughter, and just like the first time, I won’t be able to “fix” any of the loneliness that goes with it. I won’t be able to prevent the embarrassment over non-embarrassing things. I won’t be able to stop that boy (or girl) who Alice likes so much from saying that mean thing that she never forgets.
So I guess I’m not afraid of Alice. I’m afraid for her.
I am sitting here, feeling her turn and kick and hiccup, and I can’t do a damn thing about what is coming down the road that “happens to us all” and I hate that.
The best I can do is love her.
I hope that is enough.
I hope that love with be what leads me to the right words when she feels ugly or ashamed or lonely. I hope that love closes my mouth when necessary and opens my ears and arms.
I hope the good outweighs the scary.