The thing I love the most about becoming a mummy – obviously excluding the kisses, cuddles and I love yous – is that just when I thought I knew who I was, along came this 7lbs 4oz of pure adorableness to show me how little I did in fact know about myself, or anything else for that matter.
I would have always considered myself to be an armchair feminist, a full-on supporter of all things equal rights. But before having children I had paid little attention to the politics of clothes and toys.
Four years into this journey and you can often find me ranting in my local supermarket about the Pretty Princess tutu dress or the Boys will be Boys T-Shirt, that obviously is only available in a rather unimaginative shade of blue. I refuse to swallow these messages, I don’t want The Dude to grow up with the idea that to have a penis means that you also must be a troublemaker, or loud or even aggressive. I don’t want The Pea to be confined to dreaming of being a princess, because after all, unless there are some skeletons in our closet, she could only achieve this through marriage and I would prefer her not to set her life ambitions based on bagging herself an eligible bachelor.
Although I am a big advocate of clothes being clothes and toys being toys without this obsession that we assign a gender to everything, this isn’t really what this post is about. It’s about the realisation of how little my opinions count. Not in the world, I have long since accepted that, but with my beautiful brood.
So far, I have managed to keep control over the clothes, and I am rather proud of how often the gender of my children is mixed up by well-meaning, clearly short-sighted, elderly ladies. But if I can claim some success in the wardrobe department, I must admit to my complete failure with toys.
I clearly remember buying my son a doll for his first birthday, making a small political statement that no one else actually cared about. I imagined him taking care of this doll, copying Mummy in nurturing it, with hopefully some ovary aching babywearing and breastfeeding thrown in for good measure. Like with most of my idealistic dreamings, it didn’t turn out like I had planned. The doll was consigned to the bottom of the toy box, abandoned and alone. What did he want to play with? Tractors. Tractors and more tractors. I am obviously exaggerating in an attempt to raise a smile, of course he didn’t just want to play with tractors, he was quite partial to cars too.
The niggling guilt that I had somehow failed The Dude (or more honestly, that he had failed me!) was definitely going to be rectified when The Pea came along. My daydreams of a mothering Dude were replaced with a dinosaur loving girl. How wrong could I be. The doll that lay forgotten for two years finally had someone to love it. How did she find it after so long? I swear she has some very advanced honing device that can sense every doll in a hundred mile radius.
Her adoration for the nauseatingly pink row of dolls in a toy shop once irritated me but now it makes me suspicious. Surely, she must be doing this on purpose? No one year old could possibly have developed such an obsession for these creepy looking blobs of plastic? I am left feeling like a parent from the 1950s, forbidding my offspring to listen to the Devil’s Rock n Roll Music and I know the more you impose, the more they rebel but who knew a one year old could be so effective it at!
I guess it just goes to show that no matter what side of the parenting spectrum you are on, your kids might not agree. What my children have taught me is that it is not my job to fit them into my ideals but to embrace them for who they are and what they love, while offering them the balance they need to find their own paths. I may think I know best, but more often than not, they prove me wrong and that is what I love about this ride we call parenting.