Today is the International Day of the Girl.
I don’t know who decides these things, or who else besides Americans would care to celebrate random holidays. But no matter what, it seems appropriate.
I am about half way through pregnancy. We had an ultrasound yesterday; my first and probably the only one since there wasn’t a single issue bearing closer inspection.
The spine looked beautiful. The brain seemed normal. The heart beat was healthy. The baby kicked and squirmed. And there was only one.
And it wasn’t a boy.
At the announcement, I wasn’t excited. In fact, mild panic set in.
I mean, a seventh son? I would have felt like I’ve got this. A disability? We’re already there; who better to handle another with special needs? Twins? Sure, I can live without sleep for a while. But no.
And gave me a daughter.
I was satisfied being the mom of boys. Rough and tumble, do what’s right not what’s easy, be a leader, man up, kill spiders, live loud, drive smart, hunt, fish, full throttle, wrestle, eat eat eat, and if it’s not broken go back outside.
Everything in my house is camouflage or blue. Or the color of dirt. All the toys have wheels, breathe fire, or shoot. All the decor has to withstand significant interaction. (The living room curtain rod is currently sitting in two broken pieces beside me). All of Daddy’s tools have miniature counterparts as well. All the beds stack into bunks. All the clothes can be passed down to the next sibling. I live with a small army. And I’ve gotten comfortable with that.
But moms of girls have a sacred trust. Somehow they must develop the next generation of healthy, well adjusted, strong, domestic, professional, beautiful women.
I was content to leave you all to that. I was busy throwing myself into the task of raising men who would know how to treat such a woman. I had no plans to raise a girl myself.
I have no clue how to do that.
Will I have to buy Barbies? American Girl dolls? Trolls?
I don’t own a good hairbrush. Or fingernail polish. Or anything with glitter.
Will she be spoiled? Will she be too tomboy?
Do they make decent swimsuits for females – or decent clothes at all?!?
What if she feels fat?
What if she cries for no apparent reason?
Will I try to live vicarious childhood dreams through her ballet class or gymnastics?
Will I expect too much – or too little – domesticity from her?
Makeup! I occasionally slash cheap mascara across my upper lids and call it good. Will I have to learn about eyebrow shaping or curling irons or who knows what else I missed in the last couple decades of oblivion?!?
I will have to instill some ideas of privacy in this house of brothers!
I will have to change my vocabulary! (I can’t just call them “the guys” anymore; everyone will not automatically be a “he”…)
This is a strange new world.
Sure, I could just send her off to Boy Scout meetings with the rest of them, but the reality is, this child will be inherently different.
The world knows it. In so many cultures, being female is a curse. It’s dangerous to be born a girl. Painful. Even deadly. But the flip side is bringing into the world a self-righteous spoiled brat in high heels who would demand equality at the expense of dismissing the difference. She must live the delicate balance between strength and femininity, adventure and domestic contentment, leadership and submission. Coming from a high-testosterone family doesn’t make the balance easier. Does it?
Sure, on holidays I’ll finally have a reason to look at pretty dresses. The boys will get practice on how to treat girls (at least a little). I’ll someday get to be the mom, not just the mother-in-law. Someone will actually want to shop with me. Someone will understand the allure of chocolate. Someone will watch finally movies and read books that have emotions and strong female characters. I’m sure it will be good. Maybe it will even be fun. But all I feel right now is that it will be different.
As soon as the ultrasound techs admitted it was pretty clear, they started speaking a foreign language. “Isn’t she cute?” they cooed at the image on the black and white screen. “What a pretty profile! What lovely fingers!” Such language I have never heard used during an ultrasound visit (and I’ve had my share of them)!
I’m not sure what to expect now that I know I’m expecting a girl after having six boys.
Hopefully the shock wears off before birth so I can invest in a hairbrush (and a car seat and diapers and all the other stuff that really isn’t so different between genders after all.)
It’s the day of the girl.
And it is good.