It all started with a shirt. I had a specific shirt I wanted to pick up for The Lady while it was on sale at Old Navy, so that was our goal today. Of course, there were sales, so she also ended up with a couple of skirts that I found for less than $2.25, and I have some new pajama pants, but that's another story. (The moral of which is: My husband shouldn't let me go inside Old Navy alone during a New Year Sale.)
Michael took the boys next door to Best Buy while The Lady and I wandered about looking at clothes, and I found myself watching her more than the racks as my mind started wandering into "deep philosophical musings". That's what normal people do at Old Navy, right?
After I had Bash in 2011 I felt very strongly that I was most likely destined to have all boys. When I discovered I was pregnant early in 2014 I was 100% certain that another little boy was entering our lives, and even though it made me a little sad to think of never having a daughter of my own, I have also been blessed with four amazing nieces! Besides, I have seen the mother daughter relationships in my family, and they can be rather frightening. I'm also pretty good with boys. I'd found my niche with my sons, and I was comfortable being the "pink in a house of blue".
Then I gave birth to The Lady.
I was assured by the midwives at the time that the first couple of years were similar except that I'd have cuter clothes to choose from this time around. That didn't seem too bad, and had proven to be true on many occasions. (Like when I find adorable little skirts for less than $2.25 a piece and have to argue myself out of buying all the colors and sizes so that she is fully stocked for the next 5 years.) It's also not true at all too. It's so different. It's so different that it's scary sometimes.
I had a few people that are very close to me make comments after she was born like "You'll be fine as long as you don't get her all that pink glittery crap." and "Make sure you don't just buy her dolls and dresses all the time." They didn't mean anything bad by it at all. In fact, they know me well enough to know that I don't like pink, glittery crap, that I stink at shopping for clothes, and that I own less shoes than my husband. I still own make-up from before my sons were born, and have been told that isn't a good thing, but I can't see throwing out something that's less than 1/4 used even if it is 7 years old. I have always kind of failed at that "girly stuff". Add to that the fact that there are countless blogs and vlogs and opinion pieces out there about gender stereotypes, raising strong women, not conforming to "gender norms", etc, and I've felt a lot of (unnecessary) pressure about raising E that I don't remember feeling with the boys. Of course, neither Michael or I have ever batted an eye when one of them runs by in a princess dress or falls asleep next to a naked Jack (my childhood baby doll) either. It's just who they are. I'm rambling though.
Back to Old Navy. I'm in there with E, walking up and down isles, looking through sale racks, keeping up a running commentary as we go, (because I am that mommy who talks to my children, from pregnancy on, as if they care what I'm saying and can answer back at any moment) and it occurs to me how an outsider listening in might think I'm the worst kind of girl mother in the world. We got excited about princess shirts, tried on shoes, squealed over glitter, and were damn near giddy about the new Spring dresses! If you didn't know better listening to us today might cause someone to roll their eyes at the mother forcing all those stereotypes on their tiny daughter.
**I want to take a moment to say that I am fully aware that there was probably no one listening to us at all, except to think "Wow, that woman talks a lot!", but these were some of my musing as we wandered the store today. I'm not self-centered enough to think that the world really gives a damn about what I'm saying to my daughter, but I have seen debates about these very topics, which is what got me thinking.**
Here's the thing: She loves all that stuff! My daughter loves glitter and shoes. You put them together and OH MY GOODNESS! She sees shoes at the store and immediately plops down in the middle of the isle to try on every single shoe regardless of style or size. (Or who might be trying to get past us in the isle where she sits.) She a-freaking-dores her baby doll! She follows me around with her baby doing all the things I do on a regular basis. It's earned her the name "Little Mama", and she answers to it if you call her that. She loves dresses and clothes. She will search through the racks just like I do, and when she finds something she likes she'll pull it out to carry around showing anyone who will look. She loves wearing her little purse over her shoulders as we walk around, and she loves putting on a new outfit and twirling around in front of a mirror. A stranger might see those things, and only see those things, and think that we're pushing her into the "typical girl roll". The truth is that it is just who she is.
And she can be both. She can be a "girly girl" who loves glitter and shoes. She can be an ass kicker who is just as rough and tumble as her brothers. (If not more so sometimes.) She can love to dance and twirl, baby dolls, and the color purple, and she can do it all with a big ass sword. That's what being a feminist is in this house. It's being true to who you are, and supporting other women so that they can be true to who they are too. It's knowing that there is no one way to be a girl, and lifting up women no matter how they choose to do it.
...It's also about big ass swords. They are kind of cool.
These are the normal things people think about at Old Navy, right?