What did we do wrong?

A few weeks ago, we went to a potluck with three other families.  By coincidence, we all have two daughters, a preschooler (yes, I have to call Wildling a preschooler now!!!) and a baby.  As the parents were standing there surveying this gaggle of girls, someone (Me, I think) commented how crazy it was that we all had girls, and one of the dads said, “I know. What did we all do wrong?”

Wait, what?

What did we do . . . wrong?

There’s something wrong with having daughters?  Are they inferior somehow? Should we have been mourning our collective tragedy, all devastated that there were no penises under those diapers?

I love my daughters. I wanted daughters. I was beyond thrilled at my ultrasounds when we learned that we were having girls, and relieved at their births when we confirmed that the ultrasounds were accurate.

But I guess some people don’t feel the same way, they instead view daughters as a failing, as though the merit in a man is the sons he can produce, not the children, no, just the sons.

Lest you think I’m being over dramatic and reading too much into an innocent comment, let me assure you I am not.  I have two daughters, I have heard the comments.

“Guess you have to have another one so you can finally get your boy,” as though the sole reason we conceived Mellow was to make up for her sister’s sex.

“Don’t worry, third time’s a charm,” as though we are now obligated to bring another baby into the world to fulfill our duty to produce a male heir.

“You have to have another one, Will needs a son,” as though fathers can only properly bond with male offspring.  Tell that to Will.  Tell Will he needs a boy to play sports with, because running and jumping with Wildling isn’t the same as running and jumping with a boy.  Tell Will that when he builds block towers and lego creations with Wildling, somehow those structures aren’t good enough or fun enough because her reproductive organs interfere.  When Wildling is handing him screwdrivers and sorting his drill bits, tell him she’s doing it wrong because her uterus is getting in the way.

“Poor Will, a house full of girls,” ok, that I get, sort of.  Poor Will, he’s got a house full of Wildling (poor me too, that kid has energy!), poor Will, he (and his wife who should receive the same sympathy) has two young children and not enough sleep.  But it shouldn’t be because of the sex of the children.  I sympathize with him because he lives in a house full of us, of his crazy family, his preschooler with her epic tantrums, his mild and happy baby who moves too fast to catch and is always climbing on something dangerous, his wife who always always always has a new idea or project for him to do.  Poor Will for that, but it isn’t because we’re girls, it’s because we’re active and busy, and sometimes too loud.

When I was pregnant with Mellow, before we had our ultrasound and learned her sex, people assured me that I shouldn’t worry, that they just knew I would get my boy.  My father in particular, every time I talked to him, told me that I would have a boy, that I should have a boy, that I should be excited that I was going to have a boy, and every time I told him that we were actually hoping for a girl, he laughed at me and promised that Will would get a son.

At Mellow’s ultrasound, my doctor, after viewing the screen, asked Will and I if we had a preference.  We told her honestly that yes, we were really hoping for a girl, but if it was a boy we’d still keep him.  The doctor laughed and told us that we were getting our girl, and that she was glad we were happy about it – she said that often when she had to tell parents of daughters that they were having another girl they were disappointed or upset about it.

I can understand that sometimes you really want a son, I don’t want to discount people’s preferences.  I know that when my nephew was born my brother Jack was thrilled to be having a boy, and it wasn’t because he didn’t love his older daughter, it was that he wanted a boy too.  But had he gotten a girl, he would have been equally thrilled by it.  I understand that some parents want boys just as badly as I wanted girls.

I don’t mind if people have strong leanings toward having a child of one sex or another.  I get it, I wanted daughters.  What I object to is after a child is born and the parent or family members or strangers look at the child and decide that something is wrong, that the parents somehow screwed up.  I would not be surprised if parents of multiple boys received similar comments about needing to have a daughter, or how they need to ‘try for a girl’ next time, because people always want to provide unasked for input on other people’s reproduction.  I know people say these things all the time, and as annoying as the comments are, they are just coming from nosy people.  It’s different when it’s the parent.  It’s different when it’s the parent and he thinks the other parents of daughters must feel the same way, that they’ve done something wrong, that their daughters are just not good enough, that the daughters are the second prize, the error, the kind of kid you get when you did something wrong.

We did nothing wrong.  We love our daughters, and we would have loved sons too.  I love our girls for who they are, for the people they are becoming, and Will does too.  Will loves our girls for who they are, not for how well they can prove his manhood.




Electronics Reduction (attempt four thousand)

We’re trying something new: reducing our dependency on technology. I know that seems strange to say, since I’m (obviously) using technology to write this. What we’re actually doing is imposing a curfew: no electronics use after 10:00pm. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve tried this kind of thing before. I even went a month without using the internet for anything other than email and work. It was kind of hellish. This time, though, I think I can stick with it – I’m just having to learn better time management skills so I can finish what I need (want) to do early enough.

It’s had a big impact on me. I haven’t been posting here very much, because if you look at most of my past posts, they were written around midnight. I haven’t had time to do other things I want to do either, like read my usual contingent of blogs, learn how to make my own conditioner, obsessively Zillow check my neighbors houses, browse Ravelry, and investigate new investment options. But that’s good. I spend too much time staring at a screen and need to cut back.

We’re also eliminating our Netflix subscription. We don’t have cable or satellite or any way of bringing television stations into our home, so we just watch stuff on Netflix and the free version of Hulu. When I found myself aimlessly browsing through the Netflix menu just looking for anything that might catch my interest and settling on some really unnecessary crap show, I realized we just needed to stop. We don’t need it. We aren’t big movie/tv people, and we always complain about not having enough time to do the things we want to do, so there was an obvious solution to the time problem. I was pleasantly surprised that Will agreed with me. That’s not to say we’ll never watch anything. There’s a new season of Project Runway and we watch it online every Friday night. That’s not going to stop. And if Will thinks it’s going to stop, I will let him live with that mistaken belief while I watch Project Runway in my office.

Since stopping mindless tv watching and signing off the computer at 10:00, our house has magically become cleaner and more organized. It feels less chaotic, and even Wildling has noticed the difference. She’s responded by always putting her clothes away, which, for a child who changes outfits entirely at least five times a day, is a lot of work (lots of swimsuits, leotards, and tutus involved in her daily wardrobe).

Let’s not talk to adults this way, please

Things that you can say to a baby that you can’t say to anyone else (unless you want to be rude and/or creepy and/or hitting on them):

  1. I just want to eat your toes.
  2. Look at your chunky thighs.  I love your chunky thighs.
  3. How many chins do you have? I need to count them.
  4. I think you pooped yourself. Did you just poop? It smells like you just pooped.
  5. If it will make you stop crying, I’ll stick a boob in your mouth.

    When they get older:

  6. Do you need to pee? You look like you need to pee. Can you please go pee?
  7. Where are your panties? Why aren’t you wearing panties?
  8. If you want to go with me, you have to wear clothes.
  9. Do not eat that!  We don’t eat boogers!  Nooooooooo…

Things toddlers can say that others can’t or shouldn’t (until and unless they are with consenting adults):

  1. I have to take my clothes off to dance!
  2. Can I see your vagina? I want to make sure it’s the same as mine.
  3. I pooped. I need you to wipe my butt.
  4. I’m just gonna get in the shower with you now.
  5. Snuggle with me for five minutes or I’ll scream!

Ramblings about cumin

One thing about switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet: We eat delicious meals.

Another thing about switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet: Holy crap, it takes a long time to chop vegetables.

I spent twenty-five minutes chopping up half a butternut squash, one tiny onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic.  Yes, twenty-five minutes.  How can it possibly take that long? I have no idea. Will was playing outside with the kids, so I can’t even blame them for causing a distraction.

We had black bean & squash enchilada casserole with roasted tomatillo sauce tonight.  I made the tomatillo sauce yesterday, and cooked the beans a couple of days ago.  I tend to make large quantities of beans and use them in multiple dishes over several days.  

I didn’t used to like beans at all, and it took me years to realize why: it was my previously undiagnosed cumin allergy.  I knew I was allergic to a spice, but I never pinpointed it until I was in my mid-twenties.  After that, after I realized it was cumin, I spent the next several years learning about which foods I actually hated, and which foods I only hated because of the allergic reaction that starts with a burning itch in my throat.

Beans were one of the foods I hadn’t liked.  We never ate them when I was growing up, except when my dad made chili.  And when he made chili, he used cumin.  So to me, beans were just another food that I avoided because of that burny itchy taste.  I started eating black beans long before I ate any other kind of bean, and that was because my dad didn’t use them in chili, so I never had that association and never developed that same visceral response to them as I had with the others.

I have to admit, it was a relief to find out I’m not a picky eater.  When you’re a kid and you don’t like something, adults say you’re just being picky, and you should eat it anyway.  My parents always complained about how picky I was, but it turns out, I’m not.  I guarantee that as an adult I eat a wider variety of food than most people, and I’m willing to try almost anything once.  Just as long as it doesn’t have cumin in it.  

It was a bad day.

I think we all have bad days sometimes, when we just can’t seem to connect.  When there’s something just a little out of sync, and it effects how we relate to each other.

We had a bad day with Wildling today.  A really bad day.  So bad that she’s sleeping in a diaper and one of Mellow’s 12 month sized onesies, because I took all of Wildling’s clothing away.  Not a good parenting day for me, but not a good behavior day for her.

It started with an argument.  Wildling stated that babies can’t see far away.  Will told her she was wrong.  I said that newborns can’t see far away, and that was what Wildling was referring to.  Will told her that her statement was too inclusive and while she was right that some babies can’t see far away, bigger babies can.  So she responded by spitting up his nose.  Yes, you read that right.  Will was laying on the floor, so she leaned directly over him and spit directly into his nostril.  Very mature response.

So she was given a time-out.  For the first few minutes she screamed.  When she calmed down, I let her come out so we could discuss important things like not spitting in other people’s noses, you know, rational behavior like that.  She kicked me in the head, which got her back into time-out.

After a few minutes, she calmed down, and foolishly, I thought she was asleep.  But I’m never that lucky.  I went in to check on her about twenty minute later, picturing her all curled up with her eyes closed, maybe snuggling a stuffed animal and sleeping off her bad mood.  No, she was naked and sitting on top of the changing table, trying to put on one of Mellow’s cloth diapers.  

This has been a problem for the past year, since before Mellow was born, since the first time I brought the baby clothes out of storage.  Wildling likes to wear Mellow’s clothes, and, though stretched out and disproportionate, they do kind of fit.  And we have discussed it numerous times, and she knows that Mellow’s diapers and clothing are all off limits.  So I decided to take a different approach.

“Do you want to wear your sister’s diapers?” I asked, while calmly gathering discarded panties from the floor.  She nodded.  “Are you sure you’d rather wear diapers?” I asked again, while calmly removing all of her beloved panties from her dresser drawer (including the ones I just bought her last week as the big prize she earned and so proudly picked out).  And she said yes. 

So I took her panties away.  And as you can probably guess, she then wanted to wear Mellow’s clothing.  And I repeated the same process while emptying Wildling’s dresser drawers and closet.  Now there is a basket full of toddler clothes in the shed, and a (finally!) sleeping toddler wearing a diaper for the first time in almost eighteen months and a onesie that will never be able to snap.

It was a bad day.

And now I have to figure out what to do tomorrow, because I need to come up with a way to both convince her that she needs her own clothes and get her to do something to earn them back.

Tomorrow may be a bad day as well.