I was not going to be “that” parent. The one who invested time and money into cartoon characters. My child would live and breathe books about dystopian planets, animal kingdoms, Victorian era literature. We’d play with organic puzzles made only from recycled plant matter. Food and drink would be AAP certified if it didn’t come out of my body. Somewhere around month 3 of Hanlon’s life, all of that was shot to hell. I became a mother of convenience. With severe post-partum anxiety, I was trying to do my best to keep myself alive, much less a helpless infant. I was reading blogs and not understanding how these women were doing it: keeping their child happy without negating their ethics, morals, standards, what-have-you. I then realized that it was a fight I didn’t care to win. As long as Hannie was happy, healthy, vibrant, daring and loving who did it hurt to enjoy a Disney’s Cinderella book? Would the world crumble when she watched the Pinocchio movie my mother gave her (that was released from Disney’s vault on the day Hannie was born and thus has her birth date on it)? What values was my child learning from these “gettin’ the vapahs” women so classically shown?
When we were setting up Hanlon’s room pre-birth every color was meticulously chosen. There were no gender-identifying colors. Her bedding was bright oranges, reds, blues and greens. Her walls were painted “sweet corn”, a subtle yet stimulating yellow. I was anti-pink. I was a pink nazi. I was against putting bows in her hair to define her in public, because let’s be honest, who gives a shit? I had witnessed first hand other mothers becoming enraged when their child was mistaken for the opposite sex: “oh, HE is so handsome!” WAAAAAAAARGAAAAARBLE! “HE IS A GIIIIRL!” Um, SHE is also 2 months old and only cares about that milky milk, so settle down Beatrice. I was just going to let things slide. If Hannie was mistaken for a boy (which she often was, despite wearing a PURPLE onesie and ballet slipper socks) I wasn’t going to correct them. I simply said thank you for their compliment and moved on.
All that being said, my sweet 3 year old is the definition of a GIRL. She loves pink. She loves pastel colors in general. She wants to wear her Rapunzel dress to Publix. And that is fine. Because she chose it. She also plays hard in the dirt. Her legs are so bruised from rough and tumble play I am afraid CPS will be called on us. She likes cars and playing with her best friend Galvin. Even though I fully embrace her girliness, I have caught myself trying to sway her opinions. For example, on a recent shopping trip to Target, Hannie picked out the most garish Minnie Mouse backpack. She was squealing with delight as I trolled the aisle saying “oh! look at this cute owl pack! or this one is a puppy!”. All the while she was trying her damndest to put on the pink monstrosity on her shoulders. I helped her put it on and tightened the straps. I sighed and looked into my daughter’s jubilant face. She won. And she strolled proudly down the aisles showing any one who would look her “pwetty pink backpack”.
Despite my wanting her to not be defined by her gender, her happiness is so much more important.