Strangers love babies. Clerks at the supermarket, nurses at my grandmother’s nursing home and even the mail carrier stop to see the baby. They all coo, they smile and they chat me up. Babies are instant conversation starters. This is a wonderful thing especially for us moms that start to go stir crazy from being home all day long. After eleven weeks, I started having conversations with my parakeets, in addition to the baby and the three cats. Sometimes it is nice to make small talk with another adult because it forces me to speak normally instead of using that singsong-y baby voice I’ve perfected at home.
A few weeks ago I was at Babies R Us buying some new faster flowing nipples (when three ounces took twenty minutes to go down I knew it was time) and the young female cashier commented on how cute my baby was and asked me, very kindly, “How old is he?”
I glanced over to my daughter who was strapped in her carseat. Her pink carseat. She had on hot pink pants, pink socks and a colored onesie.
“SHE is eight weeks old,” I replied, stressing the she.
I admit that I was annoyed by the mere fact that this young girl thought my baby was a boy. I mean, c’mon people, she was wearing all pink!
Fast forward to last week when I was at Wal-Mart looking for more nightgowns. With the warm summer weather I found that the sleep and plays are just too warm when I am still swaddling so I use the nightgowns with the elastic on the bottom. Plus, these are SO much easier if I need to change a diaper in the wee hours of the morning.
I found my Gerber nightgowns but there was a problem. There were only “boy” nightgowns left. The two-pack contained one blue and green striped nightgown and one blue nightgown that featured a helicopter on the breast. The girl pack I had at home was pink and had hearts on the breast.
I hesitated for a moment wondering what people would think if I dared to dress by daughter in boy clothes.
And then, after a sudden realization, I popped my chesticles out and said to myself screw everyone else. What if blue turns out to be her favorite color? What if she would rather play with toy helicopters than dolls? Who cares what she wears as long as she is happy. I threw the nightgowns in the cart, right on top of my groceries, and walked proudly to the check-out line.
And in the back of my mind I started to wonder when the world would begin to get over the girl = pink and boy = blue phenomenon. When my daughter grows up and starts to choose her own clothing I hope she doesn’t not feel pressured to dress a certain way because of her gender. I hope that she chooses what she wants and does not feel ashamed of that decision.
Packed away in her closet are the toys we’ve saved from our childhood or that we’ve purchased for when she is older. There are Legos (and not the pink ones), a train set and a Victorian Playmobile house with all the furniture and people. Yes, she is a girl, but it does not all have to be dolls and Easy Bake ovens. But if that is what she grows up to like, then it can be.
Last night I dressed my daughter in her blue nightgown with a helicopter on it and wrapped her up in her whale-print swaddle. And guess what? She didn’t care.
I hope that as she grows older people become more accepting of the individuality of others and less reliant on gender-specific clothing and toys. Gender is what society makes of it and as we have seen on the news lately, for some people gender is not static, but something that can change.
Maybe we can just let everyone else be happy and not make judgements on what others’ choose to do, wear or what toys children play with. That would be a nice change, now wouldn’t it?