Sunday, 27 October 2013

Father's Day: Rodrigo García to Isabel and Ines

Beloved piglets,
You are now 17 and almost 15 and you are the loves of my life. Ever since I saw your little faces coming out of your mother’s body (an image that science fiction could never match for its power to mesmerize) the stunning nature of my attachment to you has been humbling. I made a solemn promise to myself to be a great dad and I have failed, but I have succeeded in being a good one. Inconsistent, grumpy, self-involved, guilt-inducing and hard of hearing perhaps, and of course plainly annoying, as you are kind enough to remind me daily—but still reasonably good, I think. In any case, here I am. Count on me for almost anything.
As if I didn’t have enough reasons to love you for yourselves, I also love that you are young women. Even despite their sadly limited roles in public life for centuries, women managed from behind the scenes to wield a unique and enduring power. Among countless other things, they have been glue and lubricant. They have kept the tribes of the species bound together and learning together and moving forward together since the days of the caves. Now you’ll get to be adults in an age of unprecedented opportunity and influence for women, and you could contribute to bettering the lot of women everywhere.
Still, you are not “woman,” you are Isabel and Ines, and so it will take time and effort and failure and success to find yourself in a culture that empowers you while still telling you who to be and how to be, how to look and what to want. Everything to do with women is scrutinized (like in this letter!) and ruled upon ruthlessly by men and women alike, and sometimes even regulated by laws. To find your own identity while having to live up to the expectations of others, while having to please and wanting to please others, while being or wanting to be the object of desire, while striving to be a good girl and a smart one and pretty and a fast runner and… wow! Only women could survive growing up in that hailstorm. Most men would be crushed by it.
There’s a cocoon for young women. It’s dark and itchy and hot and the air inside is thin and stinky. It’s spun together with your own bad hair—and with being judged unfairly and harshly by your peers, and with you judging them unfairly and harshly, with betraying besties and being betrayed by them, with competition, with feelings of worthlessness, with kissing frogs, with being ashamed of your ambition and your vanity and your confidence and your strength, with discomfort in your body—and with awkwardness, of course—and with the wrong shoes.
But guess what? Good news! A woman, fully cooked—splendid, resourceful, prodigious and wise—very often emerges from that cocoon; slowly at first, then with the force of a gale. In doing so she might surprise herself, but not me. You could be her. (I almost wrote “Be her!” but I realized I was doing it again: burdening you with the expectations of others.) If you want it—with work, with luck, with you—you can be her. When you get there, don’t forget to thank your mom.
Lotsa love,
your most embarrassing Papi

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