Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Girl's Mama

Before Gianna was born, we had no idea if she would be a girl or a boy. We decided long ago that we wouldn't want to know the gender of our babies beforehand- there are so few surprises in life anymore.

This perplexed almost everyone around us. A coworker at the cult took it very personally, almost as if my choices were a judgement on hers: "I always found out the gender. I had to, I couldn't not find out." Hard glare. It's truly a strange society where people take the decisions and choices of others (particularly the ones that don't remotely affect them in any way) as a pointed judgement of their own.

We didn't want to live in a prenatal world of pink or blue. The sea of greens and yellows were quite consuming on their own. And then she was born- a little girl. The congratulations cards arrived in a wave of frothy pink.

Don't get me wrong- pink is wonderful, and my little girl looks very cute in pink. We don't even really worry too much about pigeonholing her into a specific gender role; as a little girl I was just as happy with my baby dolls as I was searching for crayfish, knee-deep in a creek bed. I'm fairly certain that she will continue to dig in the dirt for rocks and drive her cars all over my kitchen floor whether I dress her in pink or yellow or, in warmer weather, practically nothing at all.

I do wonder about myself, however. How am I parenting as a mother of a daughter? Am I the same person now as I would have been had Gianna been a boy? I'm certainly not the same person I was before I became pregnant, or had a child. My hair is a lot crazier, I have an eye twitch that won't go away, an ability to jump awake at the slightest cough, and I find myself saying things like, "We pet Lola's tail nicely; tails are not for tasting," and "Mommy does not need help going to the bathroom."

I wonder how differently I would have reacted to a little boy deciding to walk along the top of the couch. My first reaction was- absolutely not. Later, it was amended to- "With Mommy's help." Would I have been that quick to refuse access to what really is probably not that dangerous of an exploration?

Her hair is long enough for barrettes now. Yesterday I found myself thinking about polishing her toenails (how uncrunchy of me!) She wore patent leather Mary Jane style shoes to church on Sunday (and shattered my jaw into a million tiny shards each and every chance she had to kick me repeatedly in the face). Each of these events is shaping her bit by bit, like water on a rock. Not a bad thing. Neither is letting her hammer rocks with a wooden mallet in the yard, or dig in the dirt with her fingernails, or any of the other millions of events that go on during the day.

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