I remember the day I found out that Gia was going to be a girl. It was a good day. It was the news I was hoping for. I already had my boy at home, and who doesn’t want one of each? Our family was complete, just how I pictured it.
For the next 20 weeks, I shopped for pink.
I couldn’t get enough ‘girl talk’. I welcomed the insight of others, reflecting on their own experiences with raising a daughter – what it looked like, what it felt like, what it sounded like. Even perfect strangers were ready with their own unique findings and personal observations.
But really, there was nothing unique. Over the weeks I would hear a lot of the same. The differences in raising boys and girls was made quite clear.
“Girls are so much less active and rowdy than boys…” “They play calmly and quietly.”
“Girls are so much less messy and dirty than boys…” “They keep things neat and like to be clean.”
“Girls are so much more fun to shop for than boys…” “They wear pretty dresses and fun little skirts.”
And of course there’s my favorite…
“Girls develop so much earlier than boys…” “They talk sooner and mature faster.”
Well this was great – I had a plan – I love to have a plan! Before she was even born, I knew exactly who Gia was going to be. So I boxed her up in a pretty little package with a big, huge, sparkly bow on it. She was going to fit perfectly.
It was about three years old when Gia ripped off that bow, punched her way out of the box and dusted off the sparkles.
Okay. It’s cool. I can go along with this. I didn’t really like bows that much anyway.
So I went with it, but was determined to figure her out.
Hmmm…what kind of box shall I try next…
So I tried every box I could come up with. I tied them with ribbon this time. No bows. Definitely no sparkle.
No, Gia? Okay. It’s cool. I just won’t curl the ribbon this time. It still looks pretty.
So I moved on to some new boxes, different shapes this time. I’ve got it! Twine! Maybe she’s a twine kinda girl. I like twine. It even comes in pink.
No, Gia? Okay. It’s cool. We can do the brown twine.
Here we are, two years later, and there’s not a box that could fit that girl. I searched far and wide. It doesn’t exist. As it turns out – she isn’t what ‘they’ told me she would be.
She’s actually so much cooler…
She chose a Spiderman Build-A-Bear – gave it a Minion voice – brought it home in a pink backpack.
When she’s done eating, you wonder if she got any in her mouth.
Her imagination will take her from ‘playing school’ to ‘ninja warriors’. She goes on bear hunts daily – sometimes with a “baby in her belly”.
She changes 5 times a day – I find outfits strewn about the house.
Elsa is her idol. Supergirl is her alter ego.
She hates dresses. Don’t get her started on skirts. But she’ll accessorize a t-shirt and jeans like nobody else.
Her energy never burns – she’s full of second winds.
She lives for the outdoors, the rain, the cold weather, the accessories that go with it.
Hand her a barbie and she’ll tear it limb from limb. Hand her a baby doll and she’ll nurture it like a fragile piece of glass.
She “booty dances” consistently throughout the day.
Her room has to be as pink as I can make it. It’s blinding.
And she has a speech disorder called apraxia. I didn’t hear the word “mom” until she was three years and one month old.
She’s also one of the happiest people I know.
Funny enough, I was a lot like Gia at her age. I decapitated every barbie I owned. I was a messy eater, and walked around with mystery stains on my shirts. I left a disaster everywhere I went. I’d lean back in my chair at the dinner table and fall to the ground, hitting my head – get myself up and did it all over again. I was carefree and clumsy.
I was an athlete. I preferred sneakers to high heals. I felt so uncomfortable in dresses. I probably would have worn jeans to the Prom if I could. Shopping was the WORST. I don’t ever remember liking the colors pink and purple. I was always more of a yellow and orange kinda girl.
But somewhere along the way, I wedged myself back into ‘the box’ – it’s pretty cramped in here.
See that girl right smack-dab in the middle?
She’s the one looking desperately at her dance instructor for guidance. She refuses to raise her left arm until she knows exactly what it takes to create the perfect Plie. She carefully studies the movement in her head, coming up with every possible scenario that could lead her to failure.
She’s the one that looks confused and a little insecure – but boy is she determined. That girl is motivated. She will nail that Plie if it’s the last thing she does. Nothing will stop her – but boy is she guarded.
She’s the one beating herself up, but refusing to give up. She wants to be the best, but really, she just wants to blend in. But if she doesn’t stand out, she’s doing something wrong.
That’s me. I’m that girl.
I strive to join Gia on the right. She invites me everyday. It looks more fun over there.