There are a lot of things that happen in your life that shape who you are. They don't all have to be bad or traumatic, maybe it is just something that is said without thinking or the feeling you get from a parent or sibling. And if you are lucky lots of them will be good things.
When I was growing up there were just the two of us, my brother and myself. I am 2 years and a couple of months older. For the first nine years of my brother's life (I was 11 when my Mum and Dad separated) I was made to feel that being a girl wasn't good enough. I don't think my Dad conscientiously intended to make me feel that way, but he did. Not only did I feel I wasn't entitled to the same things as my brother, I was also responsible for all the bad things my brother did, and so even if I wasn't involved I got 2 more smacks, or 2 more strappings with his belt or the flyswatter because as he said I was two years older and should have known better and have been watching out for my brother. Didn't work the other way though - had plenty of smacks and strappings just because I knew how to push my Dad's buttons and my brother never had to endure those. The only time this didn't happen was when my brother nearly burnt down our cubby house and I was in bed. That night he bore my father's wrath all on his own. My Mum and Dad often argued about his philosophy but it didn't stop until my mother walked out and took us with her. This wasn't the reason she left but I am so glad she had the strength to do so.
So how did this feeling come to be? Well it was the little things that happened he never came right out and said 'pity you are a girl' or anything like that. It just all added up, for example, my father was a shooter - rabbits, roos, ducks you name it he shot it. Being a tom boy I always wanted to go but was never ever encouraged to do so. He always wanted to take my brother who funnily enough really didn't want to go. I eventually nagged him enough that he took me and a friend of his took his daughter as well. But instead of encouraging me to participate he stuck me up a tree and told me to look out for tiger snakes while he and his mates spent hours duck shooting. He thought it was really funny that I was scared the whole time in case a snake climbed the tree I was in, and he still does today, think it is funny that is.
There were lots of other instances of his non-understanding of my needs as his daughter including not letting me make things in his workshop and leaving me stuck up trees I had climbed cause if I was a boy I would know how to climb down. I suppose we aren't born with an instruction manual on how to be a parent and he did his best and there must have been good times although none that I remember clearly. To hear him tell it now he was a wonderful father and still is. I've given up trying to make him understand - after all one person's reality is not anothers.
I ended up thinking that being a daughter wasn't good enough for my Dad and the worse part of it, I grew up resenting my brother. My brother and I have not had a wonderful relationship and are now estranged although I'm still not sure why as I had tried really hard to be there for him but obviously I failed somehow.
My father and I didn't speak for a few years from my mid teens to my early twenties, but once I became a parent I realised that being a parent wasn't easy and that we all make mistakes and so I made the decision to let him back into my life, but on my terms.
Because of this feeling I had as a child I have tried really hard to make all of my 4 children feel equal to each other, but I am sure that if you asked them they would say otherwise after all I am just as human and the next man/woman and each child in the family has their own needs which sometime impact on how much time you have to spend with the others. I imagine that sometimes the 'good' ones feel like they are overshadowed and the 'naughty' ones feel they are not praised enough. But I hope that all my children grew up knowing that I loved them (and still do) no matter what their sex, whether they were naughty or nice and that I would give my life to save theirs.
I hope my son grew up knowing it was fine to be a boy who didn't play with guns and that playing with his sister's dolls was okay, no matter what the rest of the world said. I hope my daughters grew up knowing that being a girl is a wonderful thing and that is why they have become strong and independent women they are today.
I hope that my 2 grand-daughters rule the world because they can if they want to because my genes run in their blood and while that might mean arthritis and other crappy stuff, it also means you will become a woman to be reckoned with, a women who loves unconditionally and a women who can forgive because all of us are human and we all have feet of clay.