Wednesday, 24 October 2012
My three year old had to pee, and his papa had taken him in to use the potty.
My heart started pounding. Unlike with my son who I just KNEW from day one was a boy, I genuinely had no real intuitions about this baby's gender. And then the words I'll never forget "Well, looks like by my best guess to be a little girl". I whispered "Are you sure?" The tech smiled "Yup, 99.9%".
The next week at a follow-up ultrasound, a different tech gave me a better explanation of the "three lines" and our little family was over-the-moon with excitement. We'd all been hoping for a girl, and now here she was!
For the next few months I sewed her nursery set: fitted sheets with little hearts and a quilt prominently featuring the color purple. I lovingly folded little dresses that were gifted to us, and even bought a pack of newborn frilly headbands.
Now her due date has come and gone and we're waiting for her arrival. And the reality of having a daughter is hitting me in a different way. Sure the little girl clothes are cute, but I'm about to bring a woman into this world. And I'm kind of terrified that I'm not ready for the challenge.
Growing up I was always much closer with my father than my mother. I didn't develop a close bond with my mom until I was pregnant and about to become a mother myself. We didn't have a relationship were we confided much as women. For example - when I asked her how to use a tampon as a teenager she directed me to read the directions in the box.
Sure, I learned a lot of great things from my mom. She modeled healthy self image, she was confident and strong. But she was also cold and emotionally hard to read. It's made me wonder - Will I be distant with my daughter, too?
By contrast, a lot of my friends had much closer bonds with their mothers, but this turned contentious in junior high and high school. They turned on their moms and fought them tooth and nail. Many of my friends now in their twenties and thirties talk about the emotional baggage they carry from their mothers specifically. Their mothers had passive aggressive tendencies they picked up, or modeled bad relationships with men that sent them running into the arms of losers.
So that's made me wonder - How do I present myself as a woman? What horrible traits might I unwittingly pass on to an impressionable little girl? How will I set her up for failure without meaning to?
Sure I was scared when my son was born - the responsibility of caring for a baby and raising a person was overwhelming. But I took it on, one day at a time. So I don't know why I feel that as a mother I have a greater impact on the woman my daughter will grow into, than the man my son will someday be. The world is a scary place for a prepubescent girl. And an even scarier one for the teenager she then becomes. Teen girls and their fragile, complicated selves have made me suddenly terrified of just how to parent a girl. The responsibility of ushering a new woman into existence seems strangely daunting.
Did (or do) you have more anxiety about having a girl or a boy? What advice would you give in parenting a daughter?