I just knew my firstborn was going to be a girl. I had such a strong feeling. So, imagine the surprise I felt laying on the table with my belly out and the cold jelly across me and my husband says, “Is that a penis?”. The ultrasound technician confirmed it was. The ideas of pink, frilly dresses, tea parties, and manicures went out the window. Years later he is a typical boy who lives for basketball and football, talks about Minecraft and Roblox, and only wears sweatpants and basketball shorts.
With my second I didn’t bother to get my hopes up either way. I knew it would be our last baby, so while it would have been great for the baby to be a girl, ultimately, it didn’t matter. Going into the 20-week ultrasound I had no expectations other than wanting to see a healthy baby. This time there was no penis. I asked the ultrasound tech to triple check and a few weeks later I had her check again that my baby girl hadn’t turned into a boy. While I was excited about both my babies the dreams of the frilly dresses, hair bows, trips to Target, and lunch afterward all came flooding back. I couldn’t wait! But, in the tiniest corner of my brain, I thought of how I would shape her ideas of womanhood, and regardless if she decides to be a mother, I would shape her ideas of motherhood as well. Those tiny thoughts terrified me, so I buried them deep (and pretended they didn’t exist).
Fast forward two years and my baby girl isn’t a baby anymore. She has a personality all her own. I see a lot of myself in her. We both are bow-legged, we aren’t morning people, we like big plates of pasta, we love books, and although I hate to admit it, she gets her stubbornness from me. Many people say we look alike. She mimics many of my behaviors. If there is a sliver of the sun outside, we’re wearing our sunglasses, we sing loudly (and off-key) in the car, we never leave the house without a purse, and we both love a good pair of black leggings. The older she gets, the fears of shaping her into who she is and who she will be continues to grow.
What is there to be so terrified of? Well, everything. Every insecurity and doubt I have; I don’t want her to have. I want her to know she’s smart, capable, beautiful, all of the good things. I want her to know and feel it, every single day. Every struggle, every time I’ve second and triple guessed myself, I want to shield her from that. I know that isn’t possible, but I can’t help but wish that for her.
While I know I can’t shield and protect her from all the complexities of growing from a little girl to a tween, teenager, and beyond, I can build her up now. When the bad times and thoughts roll in, she can stand tall. Shaping who she is has forced me to look at myself and question if I’m the person I want her to be. Sometimes the answer is a forceful yes. Other times it’s a no. I’m working on having more of yes. I’ll continue to work on the parts that make me answer no.