I never knew I wanted a daughter. I was always terrified of the idea of raising a girl. Boys are easier for me, I understand them. Other women make me nervous and uncomfortable. Plus, in my experience, girls hate their mothers at some point. Not dislike. HATE. I think they usually come back after the early teen years and end up being friends, but that hatred has to sting.
I pictured myself ill equipped to raise a girl. I’ve never been particularly feminine. I’m not a sensitive and delicate flower. But now that I have a girl, I’m sort of realizing that even though I love video games, pro wrestling, and camping, I’m still a freaking girl. Just because I don’t wear makeup, drink wine, and enjoy talking on the phone, doesn’t make me less of one. I definitely AM a girl, and maybe I need to reexamine what that means now that I am in charge of raising one.
Apparently I looked at being a woman the same way society does, which is why I was so proud to “not be like other girls”. Being a girl meant being weak, back stabby, gossipy, less intelligent, vapid, shallow, and petty. Being “one of the guys” meant i was laid back, cool, and fun. I don’t want to teach my daughter that she has to be more like a guy in order to be cool and fun. And you know what, for every gender typical guy thing I enjoy, there’s still the fact that I cry watching Grey’s Anatomy. I dye my hair, have floral tattoos, and like having professional photographs of my kids taken. I love cooking and baking, and hosting parties. I like to snuggle. So it turns out that rather than being more like a dude, I’m just more like a well rounded person.
Girls have more leeway in this culture with who they choose to be. Tomboy isn’t a negative term. There is no cute word for a boy who has feminine tendencies. She can choose dresses or pants, short or long hair, to be a mechanic or a preschool teacher. Times are changing, but I do think girls have an easier time being who they want to be. There is a wider range of acceptable. Women obviously still face many challenges in society, and nothing is ever going to be totally fair. But I feel lucky and privileged that I am allowed to be who I am without ridicule. And that my daughter will be able to make her choices and follow her own path as well.
Even so, I did try to avoid the pink with her. I did her room in green and purple. I tried to keep it from being overly girly. And then I gave up. Pink crept in everywhere. And dolls. And soft fluffy things. And she loves all of that. But she also loves her cars and trucks, and has tool puzzle pieces that she likes to pretend to fix the house with. She likes to try on my high heels and stomp around the house in them, even though I’m fairly certain she’s never seen me wear a pair. She likes to point at flowers and say “pretty”. She’s a cuddler, and gives hugs and little kisses, and has a furrowed brow concerned face whenever anyone is upset. But she’s tough. Actually, she’s a force of nature. She’s feisty and fiery, and makes her preferences known. She thinks farting is hilarious, and already chuckles at the word poop. Even though at 18 months old we are starting to butt heads, I am proud of her.
It turns out I’m not an inadequate mother to a girl after all. I was just afraid that I wasn’t a good woman myself. I was afraid to shoulder the burden of making someone else into a good woman. But just because I don’t wear makeup and can’t accessorize for crap, doesn’t mean I’m not a good woman. In fact, it has very little to do with anything. And if she ends up being the type of girl who wants to wear makeup and have extravagantly braided hair, I can learn. They have YouTube videos for that. She can help me be even more well rounded. I promise to make her feel not only beautiful, but smart and funny too. I hope I can make her believe good things about herself, and help her realize her worth and potential.
I never expected my daughter. She’s a rough and tumble dirty little devil in polka dots and pink. She challenges me every day, but not in the ways I feared. She’s my little fireball, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I hope she never hates me, but I feel confident that even if she does for awhile, she will come back around. We will be friends. Because I suspect that we will have a lot in common. And as it turns out, that’s not such a bad thing.