This is a girl post. I have a lot of thoughts, and forgive me; I have no idea where I'm heading. Let's just scratch around here and see what we find. I am thinking about boys and girls and how they are different. Yes, I know they are different, but there are a surprising number of ways I did not know they are unique, and it's also surprising how they are treated uniquely.
I am thinking about being feminine. Maybe it was being a young girl during the seventies that made me so unfeminine, so determined to not succumb to adorning myself in typical girl fashions; there was such a Feminist backlash against femininity, pink, lace, daintiness, vulnerability, pink, dress-up, pretty, girly-girl pink stuff. In my mind, wearing jeans and T-Shirts were the key to retaining sensibility, reason, strength and integrity, and avoiding pearls and classic accessories like lip gloss, hair mousse, faux fur trim, satin, and other high maintenance trappings of girlhood were safeguards against frivolity. Curling irons were unnatural, matching hair ribbons were for fancy girls that didn't know how to scramble up a tree or catch a football.
As I scratch a little deeper, while I must admit that the seventies were largely to blame for my rough exterior, there were other contributing factors to my pink aversion, namely poverty and secret, suppressed envy and denial. I did wear dresses and liked them. I did pose for pictures feeling pretty and polished. When I was about six years old I had a pair of sky blue pants that came with a pink blouse, and at that time, the two colors looked more beautiful together than anything I could ever imagine pairing. I can still recall the confidence and pleasure it gave me to wear them, and the special feeling of pride because they were bought for me; they were not hand-me-downs. I wore them until the blouse strained to contain me and the pants began to look like capris. I don't know how many years I yearned for a canopy bed, matching dresser and night stand, but as I realized those would never be forthcoming, nor black patent leather shoes, or regular shopping sprees at Penney's, well then I naturally snubbed the very idea of desiring fashionable clothes, matching anything or any routine involving curling irons, beauty treatments or new season fashions.
I soon forgot that somewhere, deep inside me was a girl that thought pink is sweet and looks pretty next to sky blue, that lace is amazing, intricate, interesting complex and beautiful, and so are flowers, butterflies, princesses, jewelry, eyeliner and nightgowns. Somewhere along the way those suppressed feminine feelings were replaced with the belief that girls who accessorize, flirt and giggle were trained that way and were in peril of being shallow, losing neural connections and that they were victims of commercial, capitalist conspiracies.
And then I gave birth to three boys, and I thought that I was their prime influence; teaching them that there are no gender lines, to follow their interests and not their societally expected roles. I expected they would wear the colors they like, play the games they preferred and be in touch with a harmonious balance of masculine and feminine emotions and behaviors that were more suitably recognized as simply human, universal qualities. It sort of has worked that way, so naturally I felt a little
When people found out we were expecting a girl it began... they said, "A girl," with wispy, heartfelt sighs. They said "Girls are so sweet and easy," and they said, "You're going to love shopping for a girl."
I thought, 'Typical stereotypes and social conventions.' I felt a little different though. I did want to buy dresses, and ribbons look pretty in long hair; did I say 'long hair?' Long, feminine hair, brushed and braided and the ends tied with bows?
I thought, my boys have been easy and sweet, girls don't own sweetness. I felt a little different though. I noticed that Geoff and his boys have a lot to share that actually is unique to guys. They are sweet boys who will grow to be men and have men experiences, and it is a realm that I can admire, respect and observe, but I will never fully know. I thought about being a girl, being my mother's daughter and the connectedness we have by being women. I love relating to my boys and reliving childhood, but expecting a girl opened up memories of not only being a child, but of being a girl. I was remembering that all of my dolls had names that I had wanted to be a princess, wear flowing dresses and flowers in my hair.
So, it turns out it really is about balance, and I have been living out of balance, unappreciative, almost disrespectfully so, of my femininity. What I had categorized as contrived convention, is actually simply another layer of the human experience and it includes, if you like, dress-up, grace, pride, delicacy, flowy gossamer veils and strings of pearls, sparkly shoes, and tea parties, tending baby dolls and cooing at baby bunnies and kittens. My strength and intelligence are neither compromised nor diminished by pinkness and dancing on tiptoes; Maria taught me this.