Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Girl

We were so busy enjoying the weather yesterday, I didn't have time to post about what Josie is up to these days. She can roll over from her back to stomach, but doesn't seem to care to though and spends a lot of her day watching her older brothers in love and awe. I am not one to dress myself and my kids alike (I'm lucky if we are all dressed and don't put much thought into clothes since becoming a mother) so I've been surprised many times to hear the comment that Josie and I are matching. It is not intentional and I find it silly and funny, but it does happen more than I'd like to admit. (This picture is from early a birthday party in early December and Josie and I are wearing matching yellow hoodies when I have maybe two yellow shirts in my entire wardrobe...what is up with that?)

I've been thinking so much about being the mother of a daughter for the last four months. I just never really thought I would have a daughter and to tell you the truth, I'm a little frightened by it. I adore having boys and it has always felt comfortable for me. Most of my friends as an adult have been guys until recently and I've always felt more comfortable with men. Now I find myself the mother of a female and as much as I'd like to think gender doesn't matter, it does.

When my parenting journey began almost eight years ago, I was determined to bring my children up to be gender neutral. My boys loved pink and I shopped for clothes in both the boys and girls sections of the used clothing store. Parker was a natural at being "gender neutral" and he defied what everyone said about boys being "different" and making things into guns even in a gun-free environment and other "boy behavior" I was warned about. Then four years after I was sure I had the parenting thing all figured out, I had Dema. Again, all was well until he was 2 1/2 and then I saw what people had said would happen with boys. Now, I have no idea if this is just because he is a second born and feels the need to hang with the bigger boys (Parker isn't one to cave to peer pressure and feels pretty confident being himself and not going along with the crowd, he'll say certain things scare him and not feel uncomfortable about it, he will ride his pink bike and his green one without batting an eye). Maybe we did something different with Dema or maybe he was just born with more "testosterone". Who knows. Now my views are more about celebrating the differences between the sexes as well as those things which are just human.

Now, I have a little girl. She is only four months old, but some personality traits come across as soon as babies are born (sometimes before). I'm trying not to pigeon-hole any of my kids. I don't want to peg one as the "smart" one or the "tough" one, etc. It is hard some days, but I really think it is best to avoid this. Sure, we all have our own strengths, but kids also have a way of living up to our expectations and I want to give them room to change and grow and reinvent themselves if they want to. But, it is hard not to feel a female bond with Josie which is different (not better or worse, just different) than what I feel with the boys.

It is very odd because I never would have predicted this, but I have this nagging primal feeling that I can die in peace now because I've replicated myself. I know, this sounds funny, but it is true. I'm not going anywhere soon, hopefully, but I have a different feeling about Josie and the fact that she is here. I'm at peace and terrified at the same time. I worry about her in a different way than I worry about the boys. I know how tough some things are for females in our society and in the world. The things women get to do that men can't and what we have to put up with that men don't have to. I know what it is like to give someone life and hope she experiences this amazing feeling someday (and that I may be honored enough to witness it). I know what it is like to be mistreated at the hand of a male and to not be strong enough. I know what it is like to feel strength that is part of being a woman and feeling the connection to all the women who have come before me.

Being female is complex, hard, beautiful, exciting, scary, natural, primal, and so many other things...it is life. I see all of this in my little baby daughter and I can't help but cry for her. Cry tears of joy and tears of fear. It is and will be a wonderful ride and I am so lucky to have these three perfect amazing beings in my life. I have learned so much from all three of them and I look forward to us learning from each other for many more years. I can tell already that Josie will help me figure out how to be the mother of a daughter. She is patient and strong and sure, things I am still learning to be. She is observant and chatty. She is easy going, but tough to impress. She is all girl. Together we'll discover exactly what that means.


Leeanthro said...

I often realize at preschool drop off that my daughter and I match. I don't mean to do it. I don't know if it's subconscious. And it doesn't matter which of us get dressed first. We both wear a lot of purple because it's my favorite color.

We're trying to raise her pretty gender neutral. It was working for a long time. She LOVES pirates. She likes her tools. Etc. But her good friend at school has 2 sisters. Suddenly my daughter is playing with dolls nonstop. We've always offered them to her but she's never been interested.

It doesn't help that Grandma wants her to be a girly girl. I just try to strike balance.

We'll see how our son turns out. Maybe having an older sister will make him softer, I don't know.

Oh, and I have a no guns rule, but she'll turn anything into a sword!

Cynthia said...

wonderful post Linda......

4 is crazy said...

How sweet.

Btw - girls are a breeze! They can be girly or boyish and no one cares. They can climb the tree with their brothers and play Polly Pocket when they get to the top.

They get to be Moms, breastfeed, cry at Hallmark commercials, etc.

I know that you are raising your boys without societal concerns for gender, but they will see it.

I think it is easier to be a girl/woman in this society, but that could only be because, I am a girl who has ALL girls LOL.

Great post, and very deep.


Mom said...

Girls are SCARY! Much to my dismay and despite having a tom boy mom and an older brother, my daughter wants to be a girly girl. With her Christmas gift cards, she bought a pink castle because it has a princess and a musical tea set.

On the other hand, she is the toughest kid on the block. She pushes C around like she is the older, not the younger. She even bullies some of his friends at school. She volunteers to be the "bad guy" when they play superheroes, etc.

Life with Lizzie is crazy but I try to tell myself that she will never be taken advantage of or peer pressured into doing anything she doesn't want to. She might be the one starting the trouble but she won't be following the crowd LOL