Ask almost any expecting parent if they are hoping for a boy or a girl, and you will most likely get a response resembling something like, “It doesn’t matter, as long as they are healthy.” Sometimes, that may be followed with a “BUT, we would love a (enter boy/girl here).” We were definitely one of those expecting parents. Our firstborn was a boy, and we loved him so dearly. We wanted another boy.
Also, we were both so terrified of having a girl.
My husband had the typical fears a father would have for having a daughter. He didn’t want anyone to hurt her. He didn’t think anyone would be good enough for her. He didn’t really understand being a girl because, well, he wasn’t one. My fears came from my own experiences as a girl. I was doubted, put down, pushed around, abused, underestimated, called promiscuous, called a prude, thought of as weak, told I needed to loosen up (to smile), questioned why they would give me a job because it was men’s work, and utterly lost in my position in the world because I was unclear what it meant to be a “woman.” To sum it up, it was rough growing up in a world where women are told they are equal to men, but really, that is not how they are treated at all. I did not wish that upon any of my children.
Boy? Girl? Human?
Ultrasounds during pregnancy could not confirm nor deny whether we were having a girl or a boy. One technician guessed that it was a girl, but she would not put it on paper. When she said “girl,” we froze in terror. We were supposed to only have boys. Boys dominated both sides of our families. There had not been a girl on my husband’s side in 50 years. How was this happening to us?
Fast forward to delivery. My doctor said it was a girl, and my heart instantly jumped into my throat. When I held her in all of her perfection; little round head, fingers, toes, heart beating, lungs breathing, eyes blinking, fingers grabbing, I knew she was going to be alright. My heart still raced at all the obstacles that would stand in her way, but I was up for the challenge of preparing her for them. She was my girl.
It’s A Girl’s World
There have also been some surprising experiences I have been able to have with my daughter that I did not have with my son because she inherently identifies with activities usually attributed to girls.
Playing Dress Up – My son was never into pretend play outside of pretending to cook. My daughter loves dressing up like someone other than herself and treating you like a princess or teacher, among many other things. I am enthralled with her creativity, and it has also inspired our son to engage in more pretend play.
Doing Hair – We keep our son’s hair short, so there isn’t much to do but brush it. My daughter and I have a ritual where we sit in front of a mirror while we do her hair. We talk about all kinds of things. Sometimes we talk about what kind of hairstyle she wants, but mostly about what color she likes, what she dreamt about, what she wants to be when she grows up. I love how she is excited about little things in life. Her sense of pride and love when she sees herself in the mirror when her hair is done makes my heart flutter. I am no expert when it comes to hair, and she has a head full of crazy curls that do their own thing. Yet, she still loves how she looks. I want her to keep that confidence forever.
Singing – My son will sing a song, but he isn’t married to it. My daughter will transform into a mini Whitney Houston and feel the song in her bones. She gestures and sings as loud as her little body allows her to. I could be having the worst day, and on our drive to all the errands, she will start singing in the back seat, making everything good in the world.
I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
Hearing “It’s a girl” was one of the scariest things I have ever heard, but lucky me, it was also one of the best. She has not only challenged me to best prepare her for what all women will face, but it has reminded me, even more, to also prepare my son. I’ve learned to lean not so much into the fear but the courage that it takes to be a strong woman in our world.