Saturday: Mom Musings about having a girl

Vegan Goodness:

Today we ate:

  • Breakfast: Smoothies, toast and hash browns with ketchup for everyone!  Of course for LP it was more like ketchup with a side of hash browns.
  • LP snacked on some almonds and raisins during and after his music class today.
  • Lunch: LP had leftover spicy eggplant peanut stew, Mom had a TJ’s frozen enchilada and Dad had leftover bok choy stir fry.  Mom and Dad also shared a Tofurky sandwich later.
  • Mom snacked on chocolate chips and peanuts during LP’s lunch, and LP had a “latte” (warm soymilk topped with some cinnamon) after his nap.
  • Dinner: Fajitas, complete with salsa rice, refried black beans, soy chorizo and onions and peppers from our CSA!
  • Mom had some chocolate chips on top of vanilla soy yogurt for dessert.

Money Matters:

Today we only went out to music class, and then LP rode his bike for a while.  No money spent today!

Mom Musings:

Disclaimer: We have received some wonderful, and adorable gifts of clothes for our new baby, and we appreciate every single one of them!  The following musings are more about what these gifts have made me think about, not a commentary on the gifts themselves.  We greatly appreciate them, and all the love that comes with them!

I’m terrified of raising a girl.

There.  I said it.  I’ve been thinking it ever since the news went out and the cute pink outfits started flooding in.

I didn’t have this problem with LP.  First of all, my family was so shocked that we had a boy (we just don’t do that in my family!) we just rolled with the gender neutral stuff.  Even when he got trucks and tools and shirts with little basketballs it didn’t bother me.  I would have loved those same things for a girl.  Heck, his crib sheets were sports themed because I picked them to (before we knew if he was a boy or girl).  And I could always figure that we would have done all the same stuff if he was a girl (even if the gifts would have been different).

But with IP it is different.  And I really, REALLY didn’t want it to be different.  But it is.  She has gotten some ridiculously adorable outfits, many of which my husband would never let me put on a boy baby, even as a statement of protest.  Do I dress her in them?  Do I not?

It feels like, even at only three weeks old, I’m making decisions for her that I have no right to make.  She should be allowed to be “girly” if she wants to be, even if that idea scares the living crap out of me.  She should get to wear doc martens and have a mohawk if she wants (not that those necessarily go together).  That idea scares me a little bit less than her having a dress, shoe and make-up obsession.  She should get to go to high school wearing sweats of that is what she wants – I did it and I turned out fine.  And someday, if she decides to get married and tells me she is going to wear jeans to her own wedding, my heart will probably burst with pride.

It’s about the clothes and it’s about more than the clothes.  The clothes are the symbol of all the choices my little girl will have to make that my little boy gets to be oblivious to, because “boy” stuff is so often seen a the norm, whereas “girl” stuff is the choice.  I want my little girl to just be herself, but what is herself going to look like?  People are going to judge her on what she wears, how she talks, how she walks.  And as I look at the range of clothes I can put her in, which LP’s old “tools and trucks” onesies on one end and total pink frilly-ness on the other, I wonder if she is ever going to get a chance to decide who she is before she has to deal with the trappings of what others expect her to be.

I think I know why I’m so resistant to putting her in some of those adorable outfits.  I’m afraid those outfits are symbols of a type of femininity that will make her feel weak, feel like less of a person than men, feel more valued for her body than her brain.  She is not old enough to dress in pink ironically as she kicks some serious ass.  And I want my girl to kick ass.  I want her to be tough, be strong, and never, ever, ever, let anyone push her around.  I’m going to do my darnedest to raise her with that strength.  I want her to have space to figure out who she is, beyond the gender expectations that everyone will put on her.  But I know I can’t create that space for her all by myself.  I’m going to have to teach her how to fight for that space, how to question what others think, and how to recognize that the world can be a screwed up place, but that she can make it better by fighting for what is right.

Basically, I want help her grow up into a serious ass-kicker when it comes to sexist, patriarchal b.s.  And if she chooses to do that in a pink dress, more power to her.

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7 thoughts on “Saturday: Mom Musings about having a girl

  1. I think the fact that IP has decided that 2am is the begining of the day (regardless of your need to sleep) is an indication of what kind of person she is likely to become. My guess is she’ll accept weakness in herself as much as her mother or aunt do 🙂

  2. I agree! Recently I was with 2 girls ages 3 and 4. Both daughters of strong, professional women. They had just sat down to watch The Sound of Music, a favorite of the 4-year-old, but new to her friend. As the main character was introduced, the younger girl asked, “who does she marry?” There was a female lead and already she know the plot. The other matter of factly said, “the teacher.”

    But don’t you think gender is just as difficult for boys? Like it’s more acceptable to others that your girl has sporty sheets than that your boy has princess sheets. And when we hang out with baby boys people are always describing them (only half-ironically) as “beef cakes” “ladies men” “little monsters.”

    My husband said he thought it would be hard to have a boy because he would feel added responsibility if teaching him how to be in the world. Maybe that’s going on for you too? I know it is for me.

    1. You are totally right. For boys, having “girl stuff” is way more stigmatized than the other way around. Even as much as I want to challenge gender norms, I still would not necessarily think to offer my son a dress to wear, although I would let him wear one if he asked to. However, I have no second thoughts about giving my daughter a truck shirt, or other such thing. Weird.

      I’ve totally heard (and probably said) some of the things you mentioned people say about their little boys. For some reason that doesn’t bring up the same visceral reaction in me as the stuff people say about girls (little princess, little flirt, etc.), even though it is exactly the same! I wonder if that is because I feel the same pressure you describe your husband would feel with a boy. It sounds like both you and I feel that same pressure to teach our daughters how to “be” in the world that goes beyond the pressure of just trying to keep them safe and happy. Thanks so much for helping me name this a bit more!!!

  3. I like what shappenings said, but also wonder if you might be overcompensating a bit. Pink is not inherently weak (nor is it actually inherently feminine– it used to be the color of choice for boys, and they still make boys’ and men’s clothes in pink, like ties, button-downs, polo shirts, and horrible plaid shorts). I totally agree in not dressing a baby girl in pink just for the sake of pink, but why not just stick to aesthetics? Sure, those are in part driven by societal expectations, but there’s a huge personal and stylistic element to it. If it looks good wear it, if it looks like the nauseatingly shocking pink Barbie aisle in Target, chuck it. I also would totally dress my hypothetical yet-to-be-conceived baby girl in trucks, monkeys, and tools IF they were cute or pleasing to the eye. Same with boys– I wouldn’t dress my hypothetical yet-to-be-conceived baby boy in trucks, monkeys, and tools if they were not good looking. You certainly don’t have to buy her anything pink, but is that not a statement that makes more of pink than even society and traditional gender roles do?

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