For a few years there in college, you might have heard me describe myself as "androgynous". I had an issue being overly or intentionally feminine, and while it stemmed from a place of personal tragedy, it led to a realization. How I perceive gender has profoundly impacted my own behavior - and yours, and the world in which we all move. Instead of feeding into traditional gender roles, I've led intentional and purposeful individual protests against specific norms. Now my children are navigating the same world, and I'd like it to be a better place for them. Of course, that means I've put a fair amount of thought into the ways in which my family fulfills or challenges gender roles.
I admit, I'm no gender expert - I have a sociology minor and took a few women's studies classes in college. In contrast, I know several other awesome people (Like Dr. Sarah Jedd) who have literally built their entire career in the study of gender and sexuality. But still, I try to be thoughtful and considerate of the implications of my choices - not just for myself, but for my kids. When we announced that we were pregnant with Shep, we knew people would start asking the inevitable question: "So, what are you having?"
Um, a human? We were hoping for a dinosaur; I already told my husband we could try again.
Even better, the very decision not to find out the biological sex of your baby induces suspicion.
"...Well....Well....But how will you know how to decorate their room?"
Of course! Without blue bedding, my son will never know he's a male! And that is just...deeply crucial. Especially when he's 2 weeks old. Or 7 months. At what point does his genitalia become a topic of public conversation with complete strangers? Answer: Before he's even born.
So I didn't want to feed into it. We chose not to find out - and we haven't regretted that decision, for either of our children! When people say things like, "Oh, well now you have a boy and a girl! One of each!" I cringe. There are so many issues wrapped up in that one flippant retort - a woman's "obligation" to bear children, the concept of gender identity, society's valuation of men as greater than women, the societal pressure to not have a family that's "too big". It's a lot. And it's annoying. And I don't want to encourage it.
But guess what? I've sold out. I've sold out, and I am not sure I regret it. At least, not at the moment. No, at the moment, I am mostly just in love with how beautiful my children look, and how perfectly their outfits fit with my sister-in-law's wedding theme: Garden Party. Rory has two backless floral rompers, complete with matching headbands and poofy bows. One of them even has row after row of ruffles on the butt! (Insert Heart Eyes Emoji) Shep looks like a dirty dishwater blonde version of Cillian Murphy a la Peaky Blinders. Or, perhaps more accurately: Christian Bale in Newsies.
I told myself I wouldn't dress my daughter in pink - a color I've never liked until I saw it on her. And realistically? She gets spoiled by mom family with cute, sassy, frilly things. I won't turn down free stuff - that would be silly. And yes, it goes against all those things that are important to me. Maybe this seems a way for me to justify not using every moment to fight the patriarchy. And, you know - maybe it is just that. But to me? To me it feels like picking my battles. And a wedding should never be associated with the word, "battle".