When it comes to finding out the sex of their babies, expectant mothers will say all that matters to them is that the babies are healthy. This is an absolute given. But to be truthful, when I was pregnant, I hoped beyond hope that our first child would be a girl. I had my girl name—Stella—picked out since high school English class for goodness sake (thankfully my husband also liked it). When the ultrasound tech casually mentioned during the scan that we were having a girl, I was thrilled. In many ways, I always felt meant to be a girl mom. I daydreamed about mommy-daughter dates, fast-forwarding to the years we'd spend introducing her to everything from Disney movies to dinosaurs.
During my second pregnancy, we found out we were having another girl. We were officially going to be a girl family. Beyond the relief that we wouldn't be heading into unchartered territory or needing to buy anything new, I was thankful we were giving our oldest daughter a sister. As an only girl with two brothers, I grew up wishing I also had a sister.
Being a girl mom has certainly included the things I dreamt about, but there are many things I once believed that just aren't true.
Girls are easier than boys.
By its very nature, this blanket statement covers way too much territory and is problematic in its vagueness. What does easier mean, exactly? Are girls supposed to be better behaved, quicker to potty train, less wild? Assigning expectations on the basis of sex is unfair to all genders. I sometimes wonder if this generalization played a small part in my hope to have girls; somehow, in my mind, boys would be "harder" for me to handle. The truth is, there's an ebb and flow to all of it. Sure, we didn't have to worry about being sprayed with pee at every diaper change (although getting peed on still happened), but we're already getting glimpses of what life will be like having two teenage girls at home, one eye roll at a time. When it comes to being a mom — to girls, boys, or both—easy isn't a word that's used often.
They are fun to dress up.
It's true there are tons of adorable clothing options for girls. Those hard-to-resist dresses with matching headbands make for plenty of oohs and happy sighs at baby showers. In reality, my girls lived in onesies and leggings when they were babies. With the exception of special events or the occasional iPhone photoshoot at home, so many of their girly tulle confections went unworn. I quickly learned my girls were not in fact my personal baby dolls; between blowouts and rolling around on the floor, fancy outfits just weren't functional. And don't even get me started on the lack of pockets in girls' (or women's) clothing.
As our girls have gotten older, clothing has become a point of contention. There are mornings with multiple outfit changes, complaints of bothersome underwear, and me suppressing my desire to have their clothes match. Choosing my battles has often meant allowing a second (or third) wear of a favorite pair of pants from the hamper, or taking an Elsa with Spiderman pajamas to the grocery store. When I was a little girl, my mom says I stomped my foot at her and said, hands on hips, "you can't wear red shoes with a blue dress." When she sees my oldest daughter acting in a similar way, I know she gets a little chuckle.
Girls will get along with each other.
This former belief comes from the fact that I have two brothers and grew up desperately wanting a sister. When I found out our second baby was going to be a girl, I thought, this is it! I'm giving our oldest the thing I wish I'd had. They will be best of friends, share the deepest confidences, and beg us to have sleepovers in each other's rooms. I probably watched 1994's Little Women too much growing up. For right now, at ages eight and four, all of those hopes remain to be seen. I didn't anticipate how different my girls would be. Certainly our oldest has revealed a sweet, maternal side at times, but she's still a girl coping with an irritating little sister. Meanwhile, our youngest is paving her own way, defying our expectations this second time around. One is precocious and chatty, dressing up in princess costumes and jewelry. The other is a trickster and has dressed up as a male character for the last three Halloweens. There are still plenty of years for them to play, argue, and forge their relationship with one another as sisters. I'm learning to sit back and watch—unless I have to be their referee.
With girls, there's no potty humor.
Before having kids, I really believed this one. After all, there's that old adage: "girls are sugar and spice and everything nice." For a household where the only males are my husband and one of our dogs, there is plenty of giggling over farts, pooping and any other bodily functions. As a society we're still holding onto the expectation that girls act a certain way in comparison to boys, even when it's perfectly normal to let that flatulence fly. ("Better out than in," that's what Shrek always says.) For her birthday one year, my oldest daughter's friend gave her a whoopee cushion. That goofy gift provided hours of hysterics and some of my favorite family videos. There's a time and place for potty humor, but no matter what anyone says, farts are undeniably funny.
Girls are quieter.
Not in my house, they aren't! I can't count how many times I've had to remind my girls that we're in the same room, so there's no need to shout when they're telling me something. The screams, either from laughing or arguing with each other, are earsplitting. But beyond their sheer volume, it seems that these days, girls aren't quiet—in a good way. I've been amazed by my daughters' assertiveness and ability to claim space, even at their young age. Often we're told as girls and women to be demure, to shrink away; the word bossy carries a negative connotation. That concept has been evolving and changing in recent years. As a girl mom, I'm thankful to be raising daughters at a time when we have our first female Vice President in Kamala Harris, representation in TV and films, and book series such as Rebel Girls that give them women to admire.
I remember one time when my daughter was around five years old, playing with these large foam building blocks alongside a boy. Sitting at a distance, I could see he was talking to her while she remained focused on her creation. She finally looked up at him and said, "less talking, more building." I stifled a laugh, but my heart swelled.
When I became a mom to girls, I thought I would need to reassure them they could be anything, do anything. Instead, I've found that confidence is inside them from the beginning. My job as a girl mom is to remind them no one can say they can't.