Three years ago, as I attended a gathering; pregnant, white faced from throwing up all morning and sweating from nausea a well meaning family member took my hand and said, ‘let’s just hope this one is a boy and then you can stop.’ Those words always stayed with me. At that moment in time I just wanted the baby out. HG had worn me down and I hadn’t even thought about the sex of my unborn child, if they arrived healthy then that was enough for me.
Once my child (another daughter) arrived I was amazed by those that decided not to congratulate us on the birth, but instead took to patting my husband on the back, ‘poor guy, have to keep on trying for your boy then, this lot will keep you on your toes.’ All in jest, perhaps? Then last week, as I dragged my girls through the freezing sleet to ballet, coats not quite covering their tutus I was faced with, ‘aww bless them, off to ballet, little girls, sugar and spice and all things nice, how lovely!’ I know in the grand scheme of things these comments could well be written off as completely insignificant, but the fact that each one has stayed with me shows that, actually, they aren’t all that insignificant at all.
As we pass the 100 year anniversary of winning the right to vote (for some women anyway) we look back over how much we have achieved as a sex over the past century and can feel proud. Women now vote like men do, women can be found in all industries, in all positions. I grew up in the Middle East and sadly, in many places there is still not the equality that there should be. Here in the UK equality is widely promoted, encouraged, but not always seen. Why can it be assumed that a man should feel disappointed by not having a male heir? That a family is not complete until it has a child of each sex? As a mother of daughters it is still regarded that my girls are all pink and pretty, that our days are spent doing ‘girlish activities’, that my husband is missing out on more manly excursions because he doesn’t have a boy. With a little nod towards gender equality I would like to state that yes, my kids like pink, yes they do the stereotypical ballet class (along with a load of boys!) but they can also be equally as disgusting, hyper, inquisitive and loud as boys are stereotypically portrayed. Case in point-
- Little O farts like no one else I know. I can hear her fart from rooms away and can’t help but chuckle as she collapses in a heap of laughter after said fart.
- Both girls love vegging in front of the rugby. I do suspect with S the men in shorts might add to the interest, granted, but when a try is scored they shout louder than their dad.
- Despite being two little O can kick a ball down the entire length of the garden too.
- When it comes to genitalia, my kids are obsessed with nakedness- a recent trip to The Ashmolean in Oxford ended in hilarity at the naked Greek statues. If little O got the chance she would be naked permanently (pretty sure the stereotype indicates girls should be a lot more modest?)
- Wiping snot on their sister is always on the cards.
- Sure they have wardrobes full of dresses, but their wardrobes are also filled with shorts, rugby kits, superhero costumes and plastic swords.
- Mud pies are all the rage, particularly when you freak each other out by hiding worms in each layer.
- Trust me girls crap definitely does not smell like roses.
Sure girls and boys are different, but EVERYONE is different, having a girl can never be considered ‘worse’ than having a boy, and does my husband really feel put out at not having a son? He claims not and apparently is just grateful he will never have an angry father knocking at his door wondering what our son’s intentions are with his daughter, ‘that’ as he says, ‘will be my job.’ Boys play football, girls play football, girls do ballet, boys do ballet (and according to Anna Kemp Dogs do ballet too!) I think we have reached the era for gender jokes to simply be dropped. As a parent we only long for happy, healthy kids, whatever the gender, and our children will never live up to their stereotypes.