Friday, July 22, 2011
Big Brothers and other stuff
My little brother texted me today and P, suddenly ignored (hehe;), busied himself with the baby. I overheard him telling her to not grow anymore, that he thought she might be hurting me. And that he was ready to play. And would she wake up and kick, please?! He "plays" with her each morning as he wakes up and yells into my belly regularly. He also sings the Harry Potter theme song to her daily, to, you know, make her happy :)
Just a couple of "pink" thoughts tonight, since E brought up the whole "girl" thing today, saying he was really looking forward to experiencing a little girl this time around. I'm very curious to see how the sex difference plays out here. Personally, as much as I love my manly man, I love the gender free role approach some parents (I'm thinking of that Swedish couple from last year who's preschooler is completely unlabeled by sex) and even schools (where is my link?!?! I'll find it...) are attempting. I've freely remarked on how much bullshit I feel American gender roles are, and E and I are doing our damndest to give P the chance to be P, whether that be while wearing (gasp) pink and cooking or doing sit-ups in the mud (both of which can happen, almost simultaneously on any given day :) And I find it highly offensive that either would be blinked at or labeled. I won't go all soap-boxy here, but will say that the recent victory in NY has me hoping for the erasure of gender/sex inequalities, in all its nasty forms, by the time my kids are of age....
Nevertheless, I'm curious if the husband, who is so not into striking the manly pose or talking the manly talk (and is beautifully comfortable with his son in long hair or buzz cut) will feel the same way about..... daddy's little girl? While he doesn't try and "toughen" P up at all, I'm not sure the reverse will be true... For example :) I recently teased him that I hope he doesn't pamper the future Little Miss, like he does the freaking cat, who he has always babied (as he watched me give her, gasp, tap water and said, "oh, I always give her filtered water" - hint hint:)
What, the cat not quite enough of a future predictor? Fair enough. How about our conversation on kid carrying. The Little Man, staidly six and a HALF, still loves to be carried. Due to his bouncy nature and Brooklyn's busy streets, we often swept him up as a toddler when he would have been happy to stretch his wee toes (but was typically happy to be carried, too.) This became an entrenched ideal and he figures being carried as a true act of love. Looking ahead, with the infinite wisdom that all second-borns are tortured by, I mentioned to E that as soon as she was walking, we'd, by gawd, let her walk. Even if this meant infinite patience (the kind only city parents, whose kids walk everywhere, slowly, know the mind-numbing pain of). To which E replied, oh, no, I'm going to carry my little girl. I'm reallllly looking forward to that. Awww, melt, sweetness... mixed with a simultaneous... shit! Case in point? We'll see...
So, when I was expecting P, rather than reading birthing books (denial), one of the parenting books I read was on how to raise emotionally healthy boys ("Raising Cain"). An eye opening book for a '70's raised midwestern girl, to be sure. After all, I wasn't a boy, had no idea how boys truly experienced life, and had internalized a lot of the pressures and expectations placed on those wee shoulders culturally to boot.
But now, I am a female. And a liberated, feminist one at that ;) It hadn't really crossed my mind to read a book on how to raise a girl, I feel a little more experienced in that area ;) But, delving just a level deeper, I'm realizing there is a LOT to think about and question, just like there is with boys.... In an ideal world, everyone that ever meets this little girl will have at least read this sweet little article, as a small and partial introduction to aiding the emotional health of the world's future women. I agree with her wholeheartedly. Little girls in little dresses are adorable. And editing those ooohs and ahhhs are really freaking tough. But I'm nothing if not fabulous about pretending to live in an ideal world ;)
The second "big social issue" I've had fleeting thoughts on, as B-day finally approaches, is public lactation :) Or, hell, even home lactation with family or friends around! With P, it was all so new, my comfort level was so tied to what I felt were societal expectations. We were living in Kansas in the beginning, not a real hospitable place for the breastfeeding movement ;) I had only seen a nursing mother, like, twice, in my life. Fast forward years of nursing and seeing hundreds of women feed and comfort their babies and... it finally feels like the second nature that it should.
But, back to that ideal bubble I like to promote in my mind ;) Seeing fabulous ideas like this remind me that not everyone is comfortable with boys with long hair or babies eating the way babies are supposed to eat. And, honestly, after cringing under hot nursing covers and leaving meal after meal to feed my baby in a bathroom stall (rather than, gawd help me, raise some old biddy's eyebrow), Little Miss will benefit from yet another second-born bounty: boobs on demand without Mama mortification.
And if she grows up to be a beauty pageant addict or P becomes a hairy, pro-football player (just to culturally generalize;), so be it. They will have (hopefully) followed their bliss, rather than some culturally defined do's. And I'll have (hopefully) helped someone see nursing as natural, while getting to eat my food, still hot :)
(Scary thought, but, I think, though not a clueless first-timer like last time, that I just may be veering towards that same clueless idealism experienced just before the reality of it all comes crashing in.... Oy :)