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Moms Talk: Minding the Gender Gap

Why pink and blue don't tell you as much as you might think.

I never wanted a girl.

I know, you’re not supposed to say that kind of thing. But I really, really didn’t. I wanted a boy. 

I’m a video gamer, a sports fan, and I think toilet humor is hilarious. I’m loud, often impulsive, and I like stupid television and movies with super heroes and explosions. 

In other words, in my heart, I’m a 12-year-old male.

I used to do play therapy in the San Francisco public school system, and I always connected better with the boys. We’d play 4-square, talk about South Park, and trade video game cheats. They thought I was awesome, and I thought they were wonderful.

Boys? Boys are easy for me. Girls? Well…

Girls are glitter. Girls are ponies. Girls are long emotional conversations and signature colors, and most of all girls are drama.

Parenting a girl? Gah! There’s so much fear involved. With boys, I assumed you would teach them when they’re young how to defend themselves physically and how to stand up to bullies, and then just cross your fingers. With girls, there always seems to be something more. The fear doesn’t ease as they grow. There’s emotional gang bullying in middle school. Physical attacks from people much stronger than them. Pregnancy. Rape.

I was too scared to want a girl. Until I found out I was having one.

I still don’t know how, but from the moment the ultrasound was turned on, I could tell my daughter was female. In fact, I said out loud “Oh! It’s a girl!” and after a moment, the technician replied, “Yes, do you know how to read ultrasounds?” I’d never seen one before except on Nova, but from the second I saw her, I knew.

Faced with a reality of a daughter, I was thrilled. And still terrified. And absolutely sure that I would be able to raise her gender neutral. I bought only yellow and green clothing with not too many frills. I painted her bedroom wall yellow and got a neutral wood crib and some neutral animal decorations.

Then she was born with jaundice. And the only color that made her look like she wasn’t dying was pink.

Out went everything yellow and green and in came all the pink. (I do not do things by halves.) And it matched her. She grew up pink and happy and as girly as it is possible to be.

As she grew, she switched to purple, and it is now her signature color. She wears dresses all the time, and as much frill as I allow. She loves glitter. She LOVES ponies and unicorns. We have long emotional conversations, and she brings more drama into my life than I could have imagined.

But that is not all she is.

She’s a fearless tree climber. , and they play boy games together. She prefers Lego to Barbie. And she never lets her dresses keep her from doing anything physical she wants to do.

She’s a video gamer, a sports fan, and she thinks toilet humor is hilarious. She’s loud, often impulsive, and she likes stupid television and movies with super heroes and explosions.

She’s a whole person.

And in being so, she healed something inside me I didn’t even know was broken. She healed my gender issues. She made me rethink my own prejudices.

And she’s only six. I can’t wait to see what she teaches me as she grows.

No, I never wanted a girl.

But as the Stones said…

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need.

Ann Glaser July 29, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Your blog brought girl tears to my eyes. Real ones. Full of girl emotions. Now im off in gortex and boots to teach at a farm. As women we can get what we want...sometimes and we can be what we want always.
Chris Macbeth July 29, 2011 at 03:20 PM
Excellent article.
Sheryl August 02, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Love it. Especially from one who has a sensitive boy who loves pink!

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