When I first discovered that I was pregnant with a boy, I was thrilled. Thrilled! As an only child of a mother who is also an only child, a boy felt like a perfect way to break up the estrogen-laden monotony. As a former tomboy who loved to play in the mud, canoe, hike and build forts, I felt I was meant to parent a boy. I could show him how to catch frogs and crayfish in the river. We would climb trees. Besides, boys love their mothers, right?
And so it came to be. Sunboy and I did everything together. Mother and son. I didn’t like Barbie dolls as a girl and my son’s disinterest in the dolls I gave to him ensured that the house would be a Barbie-free zone. No pesky pink and princess stuff for us.
Years passed and my husband and I decided to have a second child. It took some time but eventually there I was, belly growing. I had known that Sunboy was a boy early in my first pregnancy. I felt it in my bones. I began the second pregnancy telling myself that of course this was another boy. By that time, I was becoming an expert on the boy lifestyle. I knew the names of Thomas the Tank Engine’s friends, after all. But wait.
This “boy” I was carrying felt rather girl-like, and by the time we received the official word from the doctor, the truth was clear. This child would be a girl. It seems silly now, but I cried, terrified that I would not be up to the task of properly raising a girl. I mean, what could a non-sewing, Barbie-hating, un-makeuped woman teach a girl about how to be a woman? My husband reassured me that I was a fine woman. That I would know what to do.
And then she was born, and all my worries vanished. I was meant to mother this girl, just as I was meant to mother this boy. Maybe it was okay that I didn’t fit the stereotypes of what a woman should be. My life would be a living example that her options were broader than that, that she could find her own path and still be a woman.
I glanced sideways at the color pink. Perhaps pink could be a symbol of strength, of the diversity of women and what it means to be a woman. Many paths are possible under the parasol of Pink.
I am extremely grateful that I mother both a boy and a girl. Each of my children has helped me grow in different ways. My boy gave me confidence in my ability to parent, and my girl gave me confidence in my womanhood. I am teaching them both everything I know, regardless of gender. I encourage them to appreciate their differences and similarities, and I try not to let gender expectations sink in too deeply. “Your sister might run faster than you someday,” I tell Sunboy. It’s my little bit of influence over the next generation of both genders.
Kat Lehmann believes we are all in the process of becoming and have a choice in what we become. She is a scientist who writes prose poetry about parenting and nature, and can be found sneaking outside to look at the moon when not keeping up with her children Sunboy and Flowergirl. You can connect with her at http://www.nurturingandnature.