So its official, we are going to have what everyone keeps telling me is the “Millionaire family”. Two kids, one Boy, and one Girl. Oh boy… I mean… girl, I mean… oh, you know what I mean.
I was happily stretched out on the ultrasound table, enjoying being off my feet, rather sleepily watching the movements and picture-capturing. I was not really prepared. The ultrasound technician – who rocked, she showed me all kinds of coolness – said out of the blue, with firmness, that the fuzzy, squirming image on the monitor I was watching was, indeed, a girl.
I was pensive, absorbing the information presented to me, then said “Are you sure?”. She nodded, and showed me what she said were little girl bits. She pointed them out, and explained how she knew what they were. I watched as she outlined the two lines and two dots, and explained the difference between how they develop as opposed to little boy bits.
As I said, this technician rocked. I also now know what the inside of my baby’s heart looks like. Pretty seriously neatorama stuff, but I digress.
After the ultrasound was finished, I sat quietly in the waiting area for my next appointment, and thought about what this meant, perhaps not freaking out, but… ok well maybe a little. I know, I know, not the typical response. Most women would be all joyous and excited, telling everyone they knew they were having a Little! Girl! and planning the nursery redecoration extravaganza, dreaming of pink taffeta cutesy-pie dresses and girly frou-frou, Big Frickin’ hair bows, all that kind of stuff.
But I wasn’t. Big Frickin’ hair bows were not even on the agenda.
When I was little, I played in the mud. I had Barbies but they all rode horses and wore pants. She-Ra and He-Man were always on the march to save someone, mostly GI Joe and the Transformers. I had a Jem doll, but I cut her hair and pretended she was a top Show Jumper on a seriously sad looking Barbie horse. I asked my Dad (he may not remember) to shoot one of my play horses because it’s leg broke. I wore baseball caps and preferred the barn to shopping or painting my nails. Boys were on my radar, but sadly, I was weird, socially awkward, and desperate to fit in despite my aversion to popular culture in my social group. Boys didn’t happen until much later, and by then I had no way of coping with the minefield inherent with learning how to date boys. It didn’t go well for a long time.
Truthfully, I was the furthest from a girly-girl that a girl can get. Partially because I grew up an only child, my biggest influence being my Dad, being in the country, with only boys as neighbours. Partially because I dealt with some heavy stuff as a teenager (that is another story for another time). When I was wee, I had Hot Wheels, and hit things with sticks, and had tree forts. I hated pink. I hated dresses. I never learned how to wear makeup and gave up after several attempts that ellicited teasing and mocking from peers. I hated being in the kitchen with my mother learning to bake. I wanted to be in the woodshop with my dad, making hot plates and pencil holders. An aunt tried to teach me to knit. Yeah…
So, with all this in mind, when I look at the impending birth of my daughter, I feel I have no foothold. Its more than just the invasion of girl-themed things that will permeate our home, or the idea I may have to buy into the likes and dislikes of a girl who likely will embrace pink frouffy dresses and glitter.
It is, at the core, the scary (to me!) process of raising a girl.
Where do I start in teaching her how to be a girl in today’s society? How do I get past the pink and provocative I see everywhere in stores to find clothes that will be feminine, but not powder-puff, ridiculous, or stereotypical? How will I teach her that she doesn’t have to look like a Disney Princess or the Britney-disaster-du-jour, or keep her from falling into the pressure of female self-depreciating culture I see all around me? How do I raise a confident woman amidst the flotsam of the “Culture of Dumb” that breeds gender extremism, when I myself barely understand the implications? And how in Hell am I going to relate to a girl who may be so much like me my head might explode?
On the flipside, how do I NOT raise a tom-boy (based on my own experiences and upbringing), and mitigate pushing my own aversion to overt femininity onto her? I guess the question is how I raise an aware and balanced woman in the end. One who can gallop a horse, swing a hammer, curl her own hair, and wear heels with confidence in herself. One who does not have a label, but can create her own. One who is comfortable being herself, not adhering to a society-pushed stereotypical “girl” culture.
Not to sound defeatist, but being a young woman right now looks so much harder than when I was. I am sure a man will read this and say “Being a boy is not much better, and has its own worries from the male perspective.”
I know, I know, worries that are years away, but they still enter my head. With a boy, it feels so much easier, so much more straighforward with society and its culture definitions. Does it seem strange that I am less intimidated about explaining self-awareness to my son, having experienced this metamorphosis as a woman? Does it seem weird that, being a woman, I am more comfortable talking to a boy about gender equality and respect? Murky, murky. Freud likely has some theory that explains it.
Still figuring this all out, like most moms and dads on the planet, I expect.
I don’t have the naiveté that I will understand all my son’s obstacles growing up. I won’t know the first thing about his grappling with puberty, or his confidence as a boy when it comes to the masculine ideal. I won’t be able to talk to him about sex in the same way as my husband. There are things a mom just doesn’t talk to a boy about. But for a girl, it seems so much more complicated. It seems so much more ambiguous, and multi-tiered. Maybe I am approaching it with my combined 33 years of emotional experience being a girl, whereas I am looking at my understandings of a boy from learned observations and opinions, regimented into logical compartments.
I know it will all work out, and we learn as we go. I know I am likely reading way too much into the worries and thinking less about the joys. I know there will be joys. And… I still have time to get used to the pink.
But you can forget the Big Frickin’ hair bows. Not gonna happen.