Few words can elicit as much excitement from me these days. A few times a day, my sister rests her hand on her stomach and proclaims my new favorite phrase, “He’s kicking.” I try to wait patiently, hoping she’ll grab my hand and place it over the offending limb.
Sure enough, when she does, the baby is kicking away. Or dancing. Or boxing. Or finishing up a tough session of power yoga.
It’s a strong kick, sure and steady. To me, it feels a bit like a warning. It’s like the siren before a tornado.
Here I come, people. I’m a force of nature. It’s going to be beautiful, and a little bit scary, and you can be sure that I’m going to make a mess.
Can’t wait, little one.
My sister usually says, “He’s kicking,” even though we don’t know the gender yet. We don’t know if they’re having a “Priscilla” or an “Aquila.” They want it to be a surprise.
Naturally, my family is taking bets on whether we’ll welcome a “Hadley” or a “Cohen” in August.
My dad hopes that we’ll finally add another boy to our family of four women and one man. After three daughters, my parents are probably due a boy, even if he comes a generation late.
Five bets on a son. One bet on a daughter. Guess who was the lone holdout?
It’s not that I’d prefer a niece over a nephew. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d be happy with either as long as he or she shares my love of ice cream.
I just want to see a little girl take another swing at the “being female” thing.
Maybe she’ll knock down a few more stereotypes than I did. Maybe she’ll take up boxing, rock climbing, or rugby. Maybe she’ll care less about what boys think about her. Maybe she’ll ask out her first boyfriend and pay for his movie ticket. Maybe she’ll demand a little bit more from this world than I did. Maybe when she’s asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she’ll answer, “president,” “firefighter,” or “brain surgeon.”
Or maybe not, if her dreams are different.
But I want any niece of mine to know that she can have those things if she wants them. That she is allowed to ask for what she needs and reach beyond what she believes are her limits. That nothing about her girlhood is an obstacle. That before God, she is worthy and wanted and chosen.
I want my little niece to see herself as a force of nature, fierce and path-creating. I want her strength and significance as a daughter of God to be undeniable. I want insecurity to be a foreign concept to her. I want her steps to be sure. And I never want her to be afraid of falling. We that love her must make room for that too.
I lay my hands on my sister’s stomach and she slides them over a bit, helping me feel where the movement is most palpable. The kicks are quick and eager, and I know the little one is preparing to enter this scary, messy world soon.
It feels a bit like the baby is throwing a right cross, over and over. I can’t help but chuckle a little at the thought. I probably came out fighting too. The women in my family are blessed with strong, difficult-to-bend wills. I’d like to see the next generation carry on that tradition of fire-filled women.
Everyone else seems to think it’s a boy. But I think I sense a kindred fighting spirit. And that makes me wonder if we won’t be a holding a little Hadley come August.
She kicks harder, and I can almost feel her tiny foot against my palm.
“She’s got spirit. It’s a girl,” I pronounce.
I can picture her. She’s got tight fists and a fighter’s stance. She pulls no punches. She’s a warrior. When she gets knocked down, she always, always stands up.
When the church rejects her gifts, she stands up. When the world calls her weak, she stands up. When patriarchy orders her to be silent, she stands up. When culture commodifies her body, she stands up. When every force in the world conspires to knock her down, she grits her teeth and she stands up.
She’s every little girl with a warrior heart. She’s every woman who never stopped chipping away at the wall.
She’s got spirit.
He’s got spirit.
Maybe she’s a girl and maybe he isn’t. I’m going to love the little one like crazy either way. But while we’re all speculating, it’s fun to imagine another girl in the ring—knocking down obstacles and stereotypes, and fighting longer and harder than the world tells her she can.
In honor of the coming addition to my own family, I’d like to offer a prayer for all your daughters.
May your daughters always, always get back up when the world knocks them down. May they plant their feet in rushing waters and be unmoved. May they be brave and unfazed by those that doubt them. May they have tight fists and a fighter’s stance. May your daughters have warrior hearts.