Know that you are of woman born. You come from a long line of incredible, ferocious, extraordinary women. You carry all of their legacies and stories with you wherever you go. Honour that in every encounter with women throughout your life.
The world will tell you it is okay to forget that you are of women; that it is okay sometimes to laugh at the sexist joke about women drivers; that it’s okay to let your friends call someone a bitch, or a pussy, if only once. Remember what I teach you, what your father will show you: it’s never small, it’s never once and it’s never okay.
I hope you will have children of your own one day. If you do, do not accept that your default role is that of secondary parent. You are jointly, fully responsible for the lives you guide through this world and that means showing up with (and for) your co-parent, jointly, fully, always. People will try to belittle these acts. They will call what you do when you’re parenting your children ‘babysitting’. They will let you off the hook when you don’t know how to put a onesie on a baby or change a nappy. They’ll laugh it off and you’ll be told that you’re not ‘naturally designed’ for ‘this stuff’. Resist this as the nonsense it is. When you are a father, you are a parent, and like any parent, yours are the shoulders on which your children will stand. If you don’t know how to change a diaper or put a onesie on a baby, ask the internet. For the rest, work as a team with your co-parent. Do not relinquish your role and responsibilities to society’s narrow understandings of what a functioning family looks like.
You are the most loving, expressive little soul. You hug and kiss liberally, throwing your tiny arms around those who love you and take care of you. Your best friend is a little girl who lives down the road and I’ve never seen a friendship so pure. You are open, feeling it all, hiding nothing. It hurts me to think of this, let alone write it, but a time will come when the world will try to convince you that these traits are not natural to you. And when they cannot convince you (because you are as stubborn as both your parents), they will punish you. I wish I could write that hurt away. I wish I had some way to deliver you a world that is not threatened by any hint of complex masculinities. I can’t but I promise you that I will die trying. I can promise you that the openness with which you feel and give of yourself is the greatest gift you have to offer the world. It won’t fix everything but if you can hold on to that, in spite of everything, I promise you this will be an excellent place to start.
Know that the world is better than this. It is better than what it has offered the dead women and girls left in the wake of men who have forgotten that they are part woman. I know that it is hard to feel this on days like today, when it is awash with story after story about women and girls discarded like trash in shallow graves and dustbins. But when I look at you, I remember. You are your parents’ (and their parents’ and their parents’) best, purest expression of hope for this world. Through you, and the lessons we teach you, we are going to do our best to leave this world better than it is when we brought you into it. The world is ugly and scary and confusing right now. And, sometimes, I don’t really feel like sending you into it. But I realise that the only way to beat back the despair is to raise you as a force for good against the despair.
Trust that I take that responsibility seriously. And I know in my tired feminist mama heart you will too.