friendship

"As a mum of two girls, role-modelling womanhood got foisted on me."

As a mum of two girls, role-modelling womanhood is a job that got foisted on me. Not that I really thought it was such a big deal, at first – I’m a woman, I do womanhood – daily – have done for years, how hard can it be?

Bloody hard, I’m finding.

What’s becoming clearer as my girls get older (they’re now 14 and 9) is that there are so many different ways to do womanhood, and I’m only really equipped to show them my way. A haphazard, making-it-up-on-the-fly kind of way, at that.

teaching daughters about womanhood
Image via iStock.

What’s also becoming clear is that being the best cuddler and the best dippy-egg maker is no longer enough. My chaotic approach to everything from hairstyling to signing forms is coming under question. Constantly.

Lately, in the wake of growing daughter criticisms of my modelling efforts, I’ve started feeling the need to point out to them that I’m more than the sum of all my mummy parts. ‘I used to be a lawyer!’ I say. ‘I spent five years at University!’ I say. (It was actually six when you count the part-timing and failed-subject repeating, but those life lessons will be pulled out for them later, when they really need to hear about them …)

It might be a flow-on effect of my daughter, several years back, when I offered to come in and speak to her class on careers day, having said ‘But what would you talk about …you’re a … you’re a nothing …’ (admittedly it wasn’t quite as harsh as it sounds, she just couldn’t think of any career that I fit into. Apparently ‘Cleaner-Upper’ wouldn’t be very interesting …) This all came back to me yesterday when my youngest daughter refused all offers of assistance with her oral presentation for school. I pleaded, ‘But I’m a writer, this is what I DO’ and was met with a condescending ‘No mum, you’re a typer!’

ADVERTISEMENT
teaching daughters about womanhood
Image via iStock.

Whatever it is, these days I feel like I’m always trying to validate myself with them. Like it’s not enough for them to see me running the household and timing the dippy egg. Like they need to know that there’s more to being a woman than looking after everyone else around you. And part of it’s probably ego but a lot of it is ‘DO SOMETHING GREAT WITH YOUR LIFE – DON’T END UP FOLDING OTHER PEOPLE’S LAUNDRY!’ I’ve realised I want them to see me doing great things now, not just hearing about what I used to be.

And then there are the aspects of womanhood that I know I need to outsource. Being a sportswoman, for example. I am hopeless at sport and somehow I’ve found myself mothering a rep netball player. My own netball career was over before it began – in Grade 5 when I was finally given some court time, managed to catch a heavily defended pass, and promptly threw it WAY in the other direction, from just outside of our own goal circle. I also have no idea how to handle lactic acid, or a corked thigh (never exerted myself enough to cork one), or how to execute a sit-up correctly. All I can do is cheer loudly from the sidelines (which embarrasses the hell out of her) and assure her that some nasty little piece of work out there on the court has got her own stuff to deal with and my daughter needs to just shake it off/rise above it/wait for karma to step in … So I really rely, mainly, on her coaches to model being a great sportswoman.

ADVERTISEMENT
teaching daughters about womanhood
Image via iStock.

And fashion. I don’t do fashion. I don’t know it, I don’t have it, I can barely recognise it. But I have two girls who absolutely LOVE it. Luckily for them they have an aunty who does too. And a pretend aunty whom I’ve already lined up to take them on shopping sprees while I hang with her daughter who really can’t give a rats about fashion either.

So I’m piecing it together, this womanhood modelling thing. Bit by bit. I’m trying to play to my strengths. I know I can model female friendship, I can model empathy, I can model how to pee without taking your swimmers off and I can model not putting up with a man’s shit. Not that my husband gives me much grief about anything, I’m pretty lucky that way (or chose well … or trained him well …) but I still don’t see why any woman needs to be cleaning up anything on a toilet bowl that she didn’t leave there herself …

Australian author, Deborah Disney, practised as a litigation lawyer prior to finding her true calling in the school pick-up line where she started typing a little story on the notes app on her iPhone one afternoon. Deborah’s first novel, Up and In, hit the bestseller charts on both Amazon and iBooks and has enjoyed international acclaim. Deborah is currently working on her second novel, which is about in-laws. You can connect with Deborah anytime on Facebook. You can buy her novel on AmazoniTunes and in all good bookstores.

Are you a mum of daughters? How do you teach them about womanhood?

00:00 / ???