It’s a humbling experience when you find out for the first time. Will your world be filled with monster trucks, superheroes, and sports paraphernalia? Will you instead find yourself shopping in the Barbie section and learning how to French braid. Will your husband get to have the father-son relationship he fostered with his own dad? Will you have a shot at the lasting mother-daughter connection you’ve been lucky enough to experience yourself? Of course, the finding out is much more dramatic when you don’t have access to your own ultrasound machine. My discovery moment involved taking multiple ultrasound photos at work and returning home to my husband saying, “Yep, still no penis.”
And so it was to be. We are having a girl. My mind races at the implications. I’m having a daughter. It means I may get to feel that unbreakable closeness I feel with my own mother. It means there’s a chance she won’t grow up and move away (a little hypocritical of me to say – sorry Mom). Maybe she will spend more time with us than the in-laws. At least I won’t have to worry about her marrying some ditzy blonde bombshell without a head on her shoulders – well, maybe.
It also means I’ve got my work cut out for me. Being a tomboy growing up, I know a lot more about Terminator action figures than I do Strawberry Shortcake. It’s going to be a tough road to adulthood. I’m sure I’ll have to learn the difference between a plié and a tendu when she wants to sign up for ballet instead of karate. I’ll have to refrain from making sarcastic comments when she prances around in that pink tutu with the ruffles above her butt. There are also a few things she will have to learn.
She will learn very quickly to ask another adult besides her mother to do her hair. She will most likely become familiar with the entire catalogue of Metallica and The Beatles. She will come to understand that asking her Mom to mend her torn doll clothes will also get her nowhere. She’ll have far more luck asking Dad to get his sewing kit out (thank God for boy scouts). She will have a cultural awareness of all the great movie comedies and be able to quote them verbatim (most likely at an inappropriate age in the middle of an embarrassing dinner party). There’s a real possibility that despite her gender she will have a running knowledge of firearms, Star Wars, and Superman villains. What can I say? Her father has his charms. She may be a pretty little princess when she’s young but someday she’s going to be a woman and it’s up to me to make sure she becomes another addition to the many intelligent, graceful, hilarious women already on the planet.
So, Emma, here’s my promise to you. You may be able to name all of the power puff girls by the time you’re six, but not before you know the names Harriet Tubman, Mother Theresa, and Eleanor Roosevelt. You may ask for the $100 American Girl doll that serves as another way for corporate America to take advantage of the average consumer. Heck, you may even get one. But when that thing loses an arm, don’t think for one second we are sending it to the “American Girl Hospital” and paying for it to be repaired. We’re going to send it to an even better place, called Dad’s garage, where you will learn a lesson in the resilience of duct tape and the financial benefits of being crafty. When your teacher asks you who your heroes are you will name someone worthy instead of whoever the latest Hannah Montana Disney darling is. Trust me, when that tween grows up, you’re going to want to change your answer anyway. You will know what the U.N. stands for before you know what a mani-pedi is.
Who am I kidding? I’m sure five years from now when we’re trolling the supermarket aisles you will reach for the newest addition of what looks like a dominatrix wrapped in plastic and exclaim, “Ooh, pink! Pretty! Can I have her Mommy please? She would be perfect to marry Frat Boy Ken I have at home. After I paint her toenails, of course.”