Female friendships have always been a bit of a struggle for me. When I was in elementary and middle school, I went through a string of "mean girl" relationships that scared me away from girls for a good long while. It was all just as well, since I much preferred the company of guy friends. Guys were so much simpler. They always seemed to say what they meant and there were rarely hidden agendas.
Eventually, during college, I started to find the value in having good girl friends. It was a process though and I still find myself wary of other girls from time to time because of the emotional scars left by catty girls all those years ago. And now that you have a background of my sordid past with girls, it'll probably make a lot more sense when I share my initial terror upon finding out that I was going to be having a little girl of my own.
It was my first pregnancy, so we thought it would be fun to have a big gender reveal party with friends and family. I was completely convinced that this baby was going to be a boy. I just knew it would be and couldn't think of anything else, so you can imagine my surprise when we bit into our cupcakes and realized that we were actually going to be having a girl. Shock is probably a more accurate description.
All those years of mean girl drama came flooding back to me. I imagined her getting bullied by the popular girls at school, or worse yet actually being one of the popular girls. I imagined a future filled with pink and sparkles and princesses (all of which make me cringe.) I thought about all the mother/daughter teenage drama and practically convinced myself that she was surely going to hate me one day. I thought about body image issues, and rape culture and a million other little things. I had no idea how I was going to be a "girl mom". I just knew I was bound to screw it all up, because girls are complicated. I should know.
I realized as those first months of her life were unfolding that all of my fears and nervousness were ridiculous.
After a few weeks the reality set in, but I spent the remainder of my pregnancy nervously anticipating the arrival of our baby girl and all the drama that would surely ensue. Finally she came into the world, in a blur of yelling and pushing, and do you know what? She was just the most perfect little baby I had ever laid my eyes on.
I realized as those first months of her life were unfolding that all of my fears and nervousness were ridiculous. I won't say they were completely unfounded, because the sparkly princess thing totally happened, and she's only four so we have yet to reach the stages of teenage drama or mean girls yet, but I've learned that little girls are pretty great. Little girls are just little people— little people who are unique and precious and have their own personalities and interests and strengths and weaknesses.
I'm loving watching the person my daughter is becoming. My heart beams with pride when I see her excel at something new and it aches when she is sad because her feelings got hurt. These things happen regardless of whether or not my child is a girl or a boy. The important thing is that she is mine... my child. I'm having fun doing all the stereotypical "girl things"—like ballet and playing with dolls and dress-up—because those happen to be the things she enjoys. But I have no doubt that I would love it just as much if she was the kind of girl who liked to dig in the dirt and play with trucks.
Maybe we'll avoid the teenage drama and maybe she won't hate me when she's 16, but either way I'm going to love her fiercely and we'll get through the challenges, just like we would with a boy. I know that many people find the idea of parenting a girl to be intimidating, but before letting all the visions of frilly princess craziness and hormonal driven outbursts flash before your eyes, remember that this is just a little person who will love and want to be loved by you.