On Dreams for Daughters and the Color Pink

unicorn

Image lovingly ‘shopped by future dad

When I was a little girl, my favorite color was yellow. I loved playing with baby dolls, Barbie dolls, stuffed animals, my Lego castle, and my Leonardo action figure. I was convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that only girls had eyelashes. After all, it’s what I’d learned from Saturday morning cartoons.

Jordan and I found out we’re having a girl yesterday. We couldn’t be more thrilled. The ultrasound technician called her “challenging,” because she refused to get in the proper position to be scanned on either of our visits. I like that—the idea of my daughter as a challenge, stubborn, like both her parents. Spirited. She kicks me when I sit forward, strong, steady whacks. I’d like to think that she’s making her presence known.

We debated keeping her sex a secret. But the truth is, I’m not good at secrets. Never have been. Especially one as big as this. My relatives seem relieved: now I can buy her presents! Hmm. What a kind, but strange thing to say. As if they couldn’t before? After all, we picked out her nursery bedding weeks ago: purple and green forests, crossed with clever orange foxes and curious prickly hedgehogs. Scenes fit for adventuring, for imagining, for a child of any gender.

A few months into my pregnancy, puffy with hormones, I wandered from the Target maternity section into the baby clothes. I wasn’t surprised that the clothes were gendered, segregated into racks of pink and blue, dresses and cardigans. But I was surprised by the details. The “boy” clothes were aspirational, work related, emblazoned with trucks or astronauts in their rocket ships or rock star guitars. The images on the “girl” onesies suggested little about the women their mothers and fathers hoped they might become. There were flowers and butterflies, and flowers with butterflies, a thousand iterations of each.

Let it be said: there’s nothing wrong with flowers or butterflies. I love flowers; I buy them for my husband frequently, and his eyes never fail to light up at the gift. My husband loves butterflies, too. Nothing makes him happier than to see a monarch alight on a branch. We both enjoy beautiful things: lilies and roses and hummingbirds and cherry blossoms and ballerinas with long, muscular legs. We like sparkles, and glitter, and shooting stars, and fireworks.

But we also like robots. Spaceships. Punk music. He’s partial to airplanes; I love nothing more than stories about plucky children and their hunting dogs.

I don’t know what kind of girl my daughter will be yet. I don’t know if she’ll like art, or music, or writing, or science, or math. I don’t know if she’ll like wearing skirts, or jeans, or if her preferences will be temperamental and inconstant, like mine were. Maybe she’ll wear her hair long. Maybe she’ll chop it all off one day in a fit of rage—or whimsy. Maybe she’ll dream about unicorns. Or football. Or unicorns playing football. Maybe she’ll love to sew. Maybe she’ll learn to drive a race car. Maybe we’ll get our nails done together. Maybe we’ll dig holes, chop down trees. Maybe some of these things. Maybe all of them.

It’s not that I dislike pink. Or blue. Or any other color. But I want my girl to dream big—to dream in rainbow. I want her to grow up knowing that she can be a truck driver, or a beautician, or a chemist, or a philosopher, or the President of the United States of America. That she can be gay or straight or queer or asexual, so long as she’s happy. I plan on giving her the world, in every shade and every possibility. And if she asks me if she can be a princess, I’ll tell her no, that’s not how the laws of succession work. But if she wants to pretend, well then, sure. That’s okay with me.