Some of my favorite bloggers and writers are sharing their stories on mothering daughters and being daughters themselves. As the mom of a newly arrived bit of sugar and spice, I can’t wait to see what insights these ladies have to offer.
((This week’s post comes from Karissa Knox Sorrell))
“Mom!” my daughter recently said to me with her typical I’m-exasperated tone. “My friend searched for me on the Internet and found your blog with pictures from my eighth birthday party. You write about me on your blog?!”
I am almost ten years into mothering a little girl, and the truth is she’s no longer a little girl. She has become a real person. That might be strange for me to say, but we don’t really treat toddlers and young children like people, do we? Instead, they are little beings we must keep safe and use simple language with and point out all the minutiae of the world to: Look! It’s a bird! Say bird! That’s right, bird! Birds live in nests in tall trees! What kind of tree is it? A tall tree?
I’m happy to report that my daughter can now say bird, describe a tree, and keep herself safe if I decide to take a nap on Sunday afternoon. However, now that she’s a person, it turns out that she really does not want her mom writing about her on the Internet. (So I won’t be sharing her name in this post.) And it also means that we have entered the Era of Anti-Pink.
Let me explain. When I found out I was pregnant, I will admit it: I wanted a girl. I didn’t tell people that, of course; I told them I didn’t care which gender it was. But secretly, deep in my heart, I wanted a girl. I wanted pink ribbons and frilly dresses and girl nights set aside just to watch Mary Poppins and Anne of Green Gables.
At our 20-week ultrasound, we found out we were, indeed, having a girl. My dreams had come true. I imagined a garden-themed room, and though Pinterest wasn’t around back then, I had the perfect idea: I wanted the garden from the children’s book The Stories Julian Tells. That garden was magical, with flowers and vegetables and catalog cats. (What are catalog cats? Well, you must go read the book to find out!) I made my husband (painter and decorator extraordinaire) read the part of the book that described the garden, and although he wasn’t keen on painting catalog cats on the walls of our daughter’s bedroom, he transformed the room into a beautiful pastel pink, yellow, and green garden.
When she was finally born, we had fun with those pink ribbons and smocked dresses for a while. I even got her to snuggle up in bed with me and watch Mary Poppins when she was two. She went through a Tinkerbell stage, and then a Dora stage, and then a princess stage. During those toddler and early childhood years, she was happy to go along with whatever Mommy suggested. Let’s read The Velveteen Rabbit! Let’s make cookies! Let’s play with magnetic letters! Let’s pick up our toys! All of these suggestions were met with eager enthusiasm.
Fast forward to today, and I find myself with a tween on my hands. I’ve discovered that once your child becomes a tween (aka a real person), she no longer approves of your mothering abilities. If you suggest an activity, she will look at you as if you just landed from Pluto. If you ask if she wants to wear a bow in her hair, she will sigh loudly and roll her eyes. If you hold up a pink shirt, she will choose the black one instead. If you try to give her a tiny piece of constructive criticism on her 4-H speech (which was 99% awesome), she might yell at you.
Yet every now and then she might ask you to run a bath for her and sit with her so she can tell you about her really terrible day. Sometimes she will hang out with you in the kitchen while you’re cooking dinner just so she can tell you how sad she is about her friend moving away. One day she might hole herself up in her room for an hour, only to emerge with a beautiful drawing or Crazy Loom bracelet or bookmark she made just for you.
My daughter’s room has been updated since her baby days, but it still has the pastel girly colors theme. And there are still flowers. And butterflies. And a One Direction poster. (Which one doesn’t belong?) She’s beginning to think about re-decorating her room, and she says she wants polka-dotted walls, so I created a Pinterest board called “Tween Room” and pinned some ideas. When she looked at them, she thought they were okay except for the pink rooms. She screwed up her nose and said, “Not pink, Mom. Not pink.”
And thus, we have entered the Era of Anti-Pink, because pink is babyish and too girly and uncool (kinda like Mom). The Era of Anti-Pink means a daughter who complains and pushes hard for independence, but it also means a kid who’s developing confidence, self-esteem, and relationship skills. The Era of Anti-Pink means a mother toes the line between offering guiding support and feeling bewildered at how quickly her daughter is changing. Letting go of pink feels like a big step for both of us. But it also feels like the right step.
P.S. Her daughter’s name is starts with M and ends with adeleine. A good old-fashioned name that Frances Louise would approve of! Also, she’s named after the famous author M. L’Engle. So Mary Evelyn the librarian probably approves, too.