When I first discovered I was pregnant nine years ago, I hoped it would be a boy. In fact, it was two — twin boys! Four months after their birth, I became pregnant again and once more I secretly hoped for a boy. Looking back, I’m not sure why, but somehow I felt I would be better with boys. Instead, my second pregnancy graced me with a gorgeous, dark-haired girl who has rocked my world in more ways than I could ever have imagined.
My daughter is a tough, sweet, hysterically funny being who is fearless in ways I never was and has confidence to last her (I hope) a lifetime. Having a daughter has forced me to evaluate myself in new ways. Something about having a girl makes you look at yourself as a girl-turned-woman. I find I have an intimacy with my daughter that is different than what I have with my boys. There are times we feel like sisters instead of parent/child, and I treasure those moments.
I feel fortunate to experience the joys of having both boys and a girl — there are many differences, but plenty of similarities. Here's why I love raising a girl:
10. Girl clothes are sooo cute! It’s enough to send any mother into debt – and let’s face it, girl clothes are way more fun to shop for, from flowered undies and swing skirts to bikinis and ballet tutus. Among my favorite pieces from my daughter's wardrobe: a cream-colored faux-fur shawl; a tangerine silk beaded Indian tunic; silver glitter flats; and a flouncy vintage skirt featuring scenes from a Paris cafe. If I could squeeze my size 4(ish) mom body into any of these, I am not ashamed to say I would steal each and every piece.
9. They come out of the womb ready to decorate (if my daughter and her friends are any indication). Whether their taste leans towards flowery French, girly grunge, or sunny surf style, girls love to express themselves through their space. For moms, that means we get to unleash our inner Emily Henderson and go to town! My daughter and I love to take on projects together: we once drove an hour to pick up a $25 vintage vanity and stool we found on Craig’s List; crafted a canopy out of a $3 hula-hoop and gauze curtains from Ikea; and created a chandelier out of the pink umbrella she used on Halloween when she dressed as a geisha. Every year for her birthday, I buy her a new piece of art (usually off Etsy) and one wall of her bedroom has become a miniature gallery of sorts. Most meaningful of all, though, is the fact that next to my little girl's bed is a decades-old German nightlight shaped like a wooden cottage which I used as a young girl. Every night, I tuck her in and turn on the tiny light inside the house… delightful memories for me and for her.
8. Their hair; if you haven’t yet discovered CuteGirlsHairstyles, now is the time. This hugely successful website (created by a mother of five girls) offers quick video tutorials on how to make every imaginable girl’s hairstyle from heart-shaped braids to fluffy fishtail ponies. Who knew hair could be so much fun? Number of hairstyles I have done on my boys: one (the comb-and-go). Number of hairstyles I've practiced on my daughter: 18 and counting.
7. They’re inherently drawn to happy, fuzzy things. I normally shudder at gender stereotypes, but I’ve spent enough time around my daughter and other little girls to know this is true. My daughter is a tomboy and while she could care less about princesses, she has been doodling rainbows, hearts, puppies, and dolphins since the day she could hold a crayon. When her Brownie troop was voting on a mascot, it came down to a heated debate between Bluebirds and Unicorns. (Unicorns won.) The by-product of all this warm fuzziness is moms get a daily dose of rose-colored, sugar-covered happiness – sometimes when we need it most.
6. They have little boy “loves”. My daughter is only in second grade, but she already has a crush. We lay in bed together and whisper about boys and other things. I know the day will come when boy conversations get more complicated, but for now it’s so innocent and endearing. My favorite moment of all time was when she told me how her crush kissed her on the cheek after school. Suddenly, I wanted to be seven again and feel that little rush!
5. Girly crafting projects are fun. I love to craft and DIY as much as I can – which isn’t as often as I would like. Fortunately, girls like to craft too (witness the cult of Crazy Loom), so now I have someone to do all those wonderful projects with… and a reason to do them. My daughter and I made dream catchers, doll dresses, clay houses, terribly amateur watercolor blobs that we call "paintings," and an endless array of animal drawings because My Girl loves all things furry, finned, and feathered.
4. We can watch chick flicks together. All those girly movies I categorized as “guilty pleasures” before are fair game now that I have a daughter. Chick flicks are the perfect reason to snuggle up with your girl and a huge bowl of double-butter popcorn, while the boys watch The Magnificent Seven in another room. Our running favorite – The Princess Diaries — highly recommended for a rainy day mother-daughter movie marathon.
3. They love to dance. I have yet to meet a girl who doesn’t love to spin, strut, twirl, croon, and engage in kooky karaoke goodness. Crank up the Taylor Swift and let your inhibitions go — dancing is great for your mom bod and your soul, so take your daughter’s lead and rock out! I was once forced to craft a makeshift microphone out of an empty paper towel roll and a piece of aluminum foil because my daughter insisted she MUST MUST MUST have a microphone in order to do an authentic performance. D-I-V-A.
2. Girls get the family's heirloom jewelry. I don’t exactly have a stash of heirloom jewelry, but I do own some pieces that mean a lot: a necklace given to me by my father when I married; a pair of earrings made by a friend; and a bracelet bought by my husband for our anniversary. I love the fact that I can hand them down someday to my daughter and they’ll mean something to her as well.
1. Once a girl, always a girl. Having a daughter has been nothing short of profound for me. It gave me a chance to reassess my own visions of girlhood and womanhood: What was I like as a child? What was that “first boyfriend” feeling like? Why was I constantly dieting in high school? I have been pleasantly surprised by the way in which my daughter has forced me to reflect on my own life. I was a young girl once, and some things I got right, some things I didn’t. I’m still a girl, just older now — and my daughter represents a chance to do better.