Big Frickin’ Hair Bows

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.



4 thoughts on “Big Frickin’ Hair Bows

  1. candidia November 12, 2010 / 1:47 pm

    I love to read things that really make me think =)

    Personally, I’m more nervous about the possibility that I’ll have a male child than a female child because I have very little experience with young boys.. No male siblings, only distant or older male cousins. I, too, was a bit of a tomboy as a child, but the boys never let me play with them on the schoolyard. I wonder about things like teaching them to avoid violence (toy guns and war games and violent video games are so prevalent and thrown at boys), or how to properly educate them about sexuality and puberty when I have so little first-hand experience with that side of it. Logically, I know I just have to do my best and that’s all there is to it. Also, that’s what the father is for, right? 😉 Still worries me, though.

    If it helps at all, my mom is a lot like you. Not into horses so much, but almost all her friends growing up were male. She ran rampant through the neighbourhood with the gang, climbing trees, playing rough, and generally getting dirty. She never learned how to apply makeup or walk in high heels, ’cause she hated it. Etcetera..

    So while I was growing up, I didn’t have her help to show me how to be feminine, but she _did_ have strong convictions that women can be whatever they want to be, and her aspirations for me were to grow to the highest potential I have. A lot of that is simply leading by example, and the rest of it is being accepting.

    I remember when my sister and I got into ballet for a while, my mother was slightly embarrassed when she had to ask other mothers to do our makeup for us.. but for us it was amusing, no big deal. We were just excited to be going on stage! My mother wouldn’t buy very girly stuff for us, but we got an allowance we could spend on whatever we wanted.. I’m sure if I had been motivated enough I could have found what I needed. These days, as I grow more comfortable with being feminine on occasion, I look up how to do my hair and makeup on youtube! There are tons of resources these days.

    I think being aware of the challenge is a sign you’re going to be great =D. She may be like you, she may be completely opposite, or she may be some complicated combination.. but I think the best any of us can do is be true to our convictions, be open-minded about listening to theirs, and love them with all our hearts.

  2. Amber November 12, 2010 / 11:52 pm

    When I was pregnant the first time, I wanted a boy. I thought that having a boy would be easier. I was convinced it was a boy through the whole pregnancy. I wanted to find out the sex, but the baby didn’t co-operate at the ultrasound so it was only when my daughter was born that I realized I had a girl. And I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it at first.

    When I was pregnant the second time, I wanted another girl. By that time I felt that I knew how to parent a girl. I come from a family of 2 girls. I had a lot of baby girl clothes. My husband told me that he knew it was a boy, and I didn’t believe him. Until I had an ultrasound at 26 weeks and we got a very convincing ultrasound image that screamed ‘boy’. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it at first.

    In the end, I will tell you that I am very glad to have one of each. I get to parent a daughter and a son. My house is very balanced, and the experience feels very rich. And I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have it any other way, in spite of my initial shock both times.


  3. Kaylie November 17, 2010 / 1:24 am

    I can’t think about it too hard or my head will explode. I know with my 7 year old boy, puberty’s not too far ahead. Then I have a 4 year old boy who’s definitely very boy, but who notices pretty jewelry at the department store. As for my baby girl, she’s very feminine in some ways–she’s much more eager to snuggle and play with dolls than my boys, and yet she goes bonkers if I keep her inside because she’d rather be on the swing set. All I can say is, you do one day at a time because if you think about the challenge of raising a child into a woman or a man without falling prey to all the stupid messages about what that means, you’ll get overwhelmed and want to crawl into bed instead.
    And I admit I tried hair bows. When my babies are little and hairless, I don’t want people to have to ask me if I have a boy or a girl. But they sit in a basket inside a kitchen cabinet. If I try to put one it, she takes it right out again.

  4. AmySC January 12, 2012 / 9:30 am

    The huge hair bows are getting larger by the minute and looking even more silly than ever! I wish this ” trend” would end and soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s