The Mom Files: Gender

When I was pregnant we wanted a girl. I still want a girl, but that doesn’t mean anything about my level of delight over Gabe. It just is what it is. He’s my little man and I want a little lady.

Before we knew the gender we bought the big blue dresser/changing table because I really liked that color option. I was so tired of wood colored things. I like pizazz and color. MORE COLOR!

Before we knew gender we decided on a robots theme. And a yellow fishy mobile. And a our black stroller (that was supposed to be seagrass instead). I was not interested in pink and I was not interested in sports themes. I wanted fun and happy designs that made me feel fun and happy. And then we found out we were having a boy and I was annoyed with the blue dresser because everyone would think we got it because we were having a boy. And I was disappointed with our robots because they are so often seen as masculine play toys and that wasn’t my intention. Intentions are important… what other people think is not, but… I can only rise above so often.

I know that baby things matter and at the same time they don’t matter. A lot of girls like dolls no matter how many gender neutral toys you throw at them. A lot of boys love trucks no matter how many Disney coloring books you have at the ready. But I know that gender association is a real thing and kids grow up liking certain items because they are around them a lot or they are encouraged to because “that’s what girls/boys like.” I don’t want Gabe to love blue just because all of his toys, his clothes, and his dresser are blue. I don’t want him to play with toys because that’s a boy toy and that over there is a girl toy. I don’t want to dress my baby up in weirdly hetero-normative outfits.

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I purposefully dress him in a ton of different colors and patterns because they are awesome.

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Not because they are what boys SHOULD wear. Although, we do have blue. We also have orange and red and rainbow and green and patterns and stripes and stars and polka dots.

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Gabe’s job is to be the most Gabe possible. My job is to support him in that. He’ll tell me who he is and I’ll give him every single option I can. He is a boy and he will be a lot of other things as well. He may be someone who loves purple, like his dad. Or someone who wants to play sports like his grandma or love painting and drawing like his aunt. Or, god forbid, he may surprise all of us and become an accountant, which would be awesome since no one in our family is all that great with numbers. And even though right now it is a small thing, his toys and his clothes, I want to start out not defining who he is by the little things.

28 thoughts on “The Mom Files: Gender”

  1. Gabe’s job is to be the most Gabe possible. My job is to support him in that. He’ll tell me who he is and I’ll give him every single option I can.

    YES.

    I love all of Gabe’s cute and bright outfits. And I hadn’t realized it until you wrote this, but I love that he’s never wearing shirts with words on them. I think I hate shirts with words on them in general, but ESPECIALLY for babies, when they say things like “I’m a Princess!” or “I <3 Mommy!" or "Hello, Ladies!" (*insert gagging noises here*).

    1. To be TOTALLY transparent we have some stuff with phrases on it, but nothing ridiculous. We did get some “Boys rule” “Boys are awesome” onesies from lovely friends. And at first I was like …. eeesh…. but then one of them had yellow stripes and we know I have a weakness for yellow. Plus I thought… yeah, boys are awesome…. rock on little Gabe.

      But nothing weirdly sexual. Nothing obnoxious. And It isn’t my jam, so we don’t buy those. I would rather have something with a raccoon on it. haha.

  2. “Gabe’s job is to be the most Gabe possible.” Yes. This is a mantra to remember. Jami and I really wanted a girl, but were expecting a boy. We didn’t find out the gender when I was pregnant and were totally happily surprised in the delivery room, when Frances arrived and was a girl.

    But I also dislike all the Pink Princess stuff, and can be pretty negative about it. I want my daughter to wear turquoise,dammit! And orange and green and blue and purple and red. I want her to play with blocks and color with crayons and do KID things – not girl things or boy things, just KID things. And I think that’s a good goal to have – to expose them to lots of stuff and to let them like what they like.

    But that means I also have to be okay if she likes things I don’t like. If she wants to wear pink everyday. If she wants to play princesses or tea party. If she decides that she hates trucks. And so that’s my preconceived gender battle now. To accept and embrace Frances being the most France possible, whatever that looks like.

    This was good to read.

  3. I think I told you once that my parents apparently tried to gender-neutral me as a small child, and would give me blocks and trucks and dress me in blue and such. And it turned out that every time we went to the toy store, I’d make a beeline straight for the dolls, and would always want to wear dresses and such. I appreciate the fact that my parents made the effort to expose me to k’nex and erector sets, but let me express myself in my own ways, and I especially love that you guys are doing that for Gabe. I promise to do my part to expose him to musical theater 🙂

  4. Oh man, yes. It’s sometimes hard to be okay with things when they fit stereotypes and you were doing them just because and desperately do not want to be seen as “passing” within the stereotypes.

  5. That is the same way we feel about Penelope. The “pink pressure” of having a girl is intense! And drives me nuts. I’m a girl and I don’t wear pink tutus and have pink bows in my hair so why would my daughter? Penelope wears Led Zepplin t-shirts, Rocky onesies, or anything else we think is fun. I mostly dress her as my mini-me, because well she is.
    I don’t know anything about having a boy so I can’t comment on that but when you get your baby girl prepare for pink. It sucks. And we’ve made our anti-pink wishes known to everyone yet somehow people can’t help themselves.

    1. OMG the pink pressure! Our girl is not even here yet and already we are getting the comments left and right. I don’t even like pink! When we told people that we were painting the baby room gray, some of the responses really surprised me. People were like: “Gray??? In nursery??? How boring! It should be pink!” Ugh.

      Also, I know that baby girls tend to have more selection of clothes in stores than baby boys, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed with all the pinkness that I just shuffle over to the boys section. A onesie is a onesie, right?

      1. You just gave me the greatest idea to lurk in the girl’s section for awesome bright PANTS for gabe!! eeeeeeeeeeeeee! I wish I could go to target right this second!

    1. Ah! We shop at TARGET! And then friends/family get us fun baby clothes I think from walmart? And we sometimes hit up baby gap SALES. Sales only.

  6. I’m so glad you posted this post. I just wrote one about how I’m still coming to terms with having a boy (when we were originally told he was a girl!) and what different “stereotypes” that brings to my mind about my child. Such as, lots of energy, dirty (in a good mud-puddle sort of way), loving his dog, playing with his dad…all of that good stuff. But it’s totally just stereotyping just as much as choosing certain color schemes or gender specific toys. Who knows what kind of boy I will have? Maybe he’ll hate dirt and prefer to play with goldfish.

    I love the picture of Gabe in the gray striped shirt, eating his hands. So precious.

    1. The thing I have the biggest issue with is when I tell people “Oh I just had a baby” (or when I was pregnant and people would ask) and they say “a boy or a girl?” and I say “A boy” and they say “Oh GOOD!” or “LUCKY!” or some such bullshit. Here I stand, a GIRL, and people are are totally dissing having a lady baby? I don’t get it… It is so bizarre to me.

      1. I always imagined having a little boy. My husband, on the other hand, pictured a girl. I was worried that if we had a girl I’d be disappointed and that’s just not acceptable. So, I got excited about our girl name. I looked at girl clothes (I hate princesses and pink and sequins and glitter, but I’m not opposed to lavendar or polka dots or a few butt ruffles.) and I looked at all the cool, fun “boy” toys I would still get her, and I got myself psyched up for a girl. When we saw our guy’s little penis (the only identifiable thing on the ultrasound as far as I was concerned), I was still super excited for my little boy but I was sad too that little Hazel wasn’t in there.

          1. I still wanted a boy though, but I had convinced myself it was a girl! I am going to have to have a couple more ultrasounds and I keep wondering if they’ll tell me “Oops, it’s a girl.” If that happens, that girl will have a lot of overalls and hoodies with puppies on them.

  7. I totally get you… we dream of a girl (which does not mean we are not going to love a little boy). At the same time you are so so right: “Gabe’s job is to be the most Gabe possible. My job is to support him in that. He’ll tell me who he is and I’ll give him every single option I can.”

    I love all of your choices, I am crazy about colors and patterns so there is no secret there.

  8. Thank you for this. I am due (tomorrow!!) with my first child, a boy and I am still a bit unnerved about it. I worry that I am going to strong arm his natural tendencies because I think they are stereotypes. But how about I just embrace who HE is. I also look at his dad and know that he couldn’t have a better man as a role model which takes a lot of pressure.

    I also am still torn about what to do with his last name. I searched your blog to find a post on how you guys decided on the last name issue.

    1. Congratulations!!!

      We hyphenated our last names (dupuis-perez) so that is what gabe is named. Gabe Esmay Dupuis-Perez. 🙂 Multicultural to the MAX.

  9. I’ve been thinkin about this lately and it’s always awesome to hear from others on things. The other day I was walking around a baby store with an expectant friend and I pointed out this AWESOME green and yellow animal print blanket and she replied “oh that is cute, too bad we are having a girl” and I had to stop her and remind her that liking animals is NOT a gender thing!!! And when the heck did that even become an idea?! That animals were only ok for girl babies if they were girl animals, primarily wearing tiaras and tutus? It blows my mind how much baby stuff is separated according to sex…. It seems like we are set on telling a being what they should like and be interested in from the very beginning of their life.

    It also tells me that I have only seen the tip of the “other people judgement of your baby choice” iceberg…

    1. So one of the funny things to me as a mom who loves green and blue and avoids pink for her daughter, is that when she was tiny and bald, I would sometimes dress her with clear gender markers (ie, I would make a point of putting her in pink) because I didn’t want to be asked if she was a boy or a girl, and it NEVER worked. People would call her HE at the same rate as before and ask her gender at the same rate as before. We’ve clearly marked PINK as being for girls, so I was surprised that that didn’t really transfer to actual baby recognition, as least in my experience.

  10. I was reminded of your last name when I told someone yesterday that we had thought about hyphenating both of our last names and the gentleman I was talking to laughed. in. my. face. I was so taken aback I didn’t get to say a witty comeback, I couldn’t even believe it had happened!!!

  11. LOVE this post! I talk about gender with Lara all the time. I love knowing gabe will be raised like this.

    And I got super excited when I read “his aunt” AHHHH!!! I yelled out “oh…. That’s me!!!”

    Hahahhahaha

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