Tag Archives: raising boys

My Son, the Domestic Goddess?

I’d like 2 cheeseburger Happy Meals, please.

Are those for boys or girls?

Well, I have twin girls, but I think one is leaning toward identifying as a lesbian, so what do you recommend?


No, I haven’t ordered a Happy Meal from McDonald’s in years, but it would be almost worth eating that crap food just to have that conversation. It has always baffled me that instead of asking which toy you’d like, they ask if your child is a boy or a girl, and then they decide for you based on their own gender biases.

Hot Wheels? Boy. Littlest Pet Shop? Girl. Isn’t that just SO annoying?

The same thing used to happen during my bakery years. The phone call would always start out the same. “What kinds of cakes do you make for girls?” (or boys, depending on the call.)

After a while, I started egging them on a little.

For girls? “Oh, well, we have Barbie, Elmo, Tonka trucks, soccer, football, dinosaurs…

People would get very bewildered. I would giggle.

But, now that I’m a parent, I take it a little more seriously. This past Christmas, I thought long and hard about getting my son a play kitchen and a tea set. He loves little cups, loves pretending to eat play food, and loves to share with anyone who will entertain him. I decided against it, but it had nothing to do with his being a boy. At 14 months, I simply thought he was still a bit young, and we had already gotten him enough stuff. He will get them, just not right now.

But my goat was gotten more than once during the holiday season when others around me asked what I was getting my son. I listed off a few things, and every time I got to the kitchen or tea set part, I’d get the look. I even had one friend tell me, “Oh jeez, don’t turn him gay!” 8O Just trying to even respond to that turned me into a stuttering mess.

I mean, COME ON. Aren’t we past the ridiculous notion that cooking utensils and play stoves…or baby dolls or any other toys….are only for girls? I’m losing patience with people. I really am.

So, not long ago, we were walking through Target and my son nearly dove out of the cart after a Dyson vacuum. I wasn’t able to convince my husband that we should get him one and I could borrow it (Darn it. I dream of Dyson…), so I wandered back to the toy aisle to check out the toy cleaning supplies: broom, mop, vacuum, whatever. I knew better, because I don’t like most of the plastic garbage I find in most stores, but I felt like looking anyway.

It was no big surprise when I found all the brooms and mops–and a little pink vacuum–in the sparkly, frilly girls’ section. And I wouldn’t even care about buying him something pink except for the knowledge that the pink and the glitter were a very pointed attempt to aim those toys right at little girls and right away from little boys.

What did surprise me, and bother me – a LOT – was finding a pair of hot pink leopard print high heels, made specifically for a five-or-so-year-old girl, merchandised right next to the toy broom, dustpan and microwave oven. And then we show that same little girl a Barbie dressed like a doctor and tell her she can be whatever she wants if she tries hard enough!

Is it any wonder so many women feel pressure to do it all – keep a spotless house, have dinner on the table, mother, nurture, maybe throw in a career or two, and do it all in sexy shoes, no less, when this is what we start teaching them from the time they learn to play with toys?

Consciously, I know I don’t have to be all things, or do all things, or do them perfectly, or do them backwards with a nice ass and flat stomach, but I feel like I do. It’s an internal struggle I deal with every day. And here it was, displayed before me in all it’s symbolic glory, in tacky bubblegum pink plastic.

What exactly are we teaching our boys and girls, and why is it that I hear so few people in my real life complaining about it?

So what can I do? Short of opening my own toy store, where there are no divisions and the trucks, dolls and ALL toys are considered gender-neutral, I guess I just raise my own kid to rise above the stereotypes and expectations that seem to be imposed on him at every turn, and allow him to love what he loves, and explore what he wants to explore, whether it involves doing someone’s antiquated idea of “woman’s work” or not.

On that day, I left the toy department empty-handed, as usual. We ended up going over to the cleaning supplies and getting a little broom and dustpan, just like mommy has (after I talked him out of the toilet bowl brush.) As I write this, I honestly don’t remember what color it is, but my son loves it. On the days when I’m not at the office, we have a blast cooking and cleaning together, side by side, spatulas and dustpans in hand and little cars and trucks underfoot.

…and neither one of us does it in heels.


Filed under Parenting & Family

If you don’t like you, who will?

According to Mothering Magazine, today is Compliment Your Mirror Day!

Seeing as how Mothering is the absolute BEST magazine on the face of the planet, I figure it must be true, and that’s got me thinking about how very few compliments I’ve been paying my mirror lately.

I’m afraid I’m falling into a really harsh period of self-criticism in my journey toward good health. You’d think that establishing healthier eating habits, becoming more in tune with my body, and trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle overall would make me feel pretty dang good about myself. But, I’m afraid the opposite may be happening. But, knowing myself and how self-critical I’ve always been, this really isn’t any big surprise. A positive self-image has never been easily attainable for me, and except for when I was pregnant and my body was doing something absolutely magical, I’ve never liked what I’ve seen in the mirror. 

I think it’s because I only see my weight, and I directly equate my weight with my self-discipline and ability to achieve a goal. So for me, weight=self-worth, whether I like it or not.

Now, I just have to figure out what to do about it.

Here are a few examples.

1. Not long ago, I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few items. I wanted some falafel mix, some whole wheat pitas, dates, all the normal stuff. My husband says to me on my way out the door, “Can you get me a bag of chips, and some frozen chicken pies for my lunch.” 8O (Yes, my husband has a certain fondness for the bachelor food of his past….I’ll just say EW! and save that for another post…) 

As I walked through the grocery store, I filled my cart with my whole grain, all-natural, feel-good picks, and then darted over to the chips and freezer aisles to pick up my husband’s requests. I realized something was up when I found myself darting through the store, sure that someone would see my cart and think, “Boy, that girl sure doesn’t need to be eating those potato chips…” I was on the verge of embarrassment at the checkout, wondering if I should make a comment about how I certainly didn’t plan to eat the offending items…

First, I was angry with my husband. I don’t ask him to buy tampons, so he shouldn’t ask me to buy frozen, processed chicken in a goopy crust made of who-knows-what. Same thing, don’t you think? Then, I was angry with myself. First, I thought, be reasonable…nobody eats perfectly all the time, and second, don’t flatter yourself…nobody cares what’s in your cart!!

2. It’s one thing if I can’t compliment my own mirror, but I just can’t seem to accept a compliment from anyone else, either. My husband, my mom, several coworkers, have all paid me compliments lately, ranging from how my skin has gotten so much better since I’ve given up processed foods to how good I look post-prego. I know that my skin has gotten better, and I know that I have lost all my pregnancy weight and fit into clothes now that I couldn’t even wear before I got pregnant, but it just doesn’t feel right to me to accept a compliment with denying it, or following it up with something like, “Thanks, but it’s really just the clothes that make me look thinner” or  ”I really should be exercising more because I’m so out of shape.”

I know it’s an unattractive way to be. Nobody likes a whiner. “Thank you” is what I should say. Just “Thank you.”

3. Today, I’m heading off to the biggest party of the year among my circle of friends. The 4th of July always brings crowds of people to an old friend’s house along the Susquehanna river, and it could easily turn into a 2-day event. Kegs of beer, lots of food, canoes and fireworks…it’s always a good time and a good chance to see all the people we don’t see all year long, including some who even come from out of state. 

I could be thinking of how much fun I’ll be having, but I’m not. I could be thinking about how much fun it will be to introduce my son to all the people who have not met him yet, but I’m not. My mind is on whether the new shorts I just got do a good enough job of hiding the body flaws I have since having my baby, and what I could possibly wear with them to emphasize the good and de-emphasize the bad. See, last year at this time I was a few months pregnant and I am absolutely terrified that someone at the party might snicker, “Wow, look how fat she got!” or “She’ll never look the same after having that baby.”

I’m so bad at group functions anyway because I get a bit of food phobia in a crowd. As in the grocery store, it goes back to thinking that everyone is going to notice what I eat and comment or wonder why I would possibly think it was a good idea to eat this, or that. I also feel that with my commitment to healthy eating, I might be considered a bit of a hypocrite is I indulge in some party food, I’ll discredit myself, and then all my hard work will be for naught.

Again, I don’t know why I think anyone even cares. In fact, I know that no one does. 

I am starting to become very aware of how observant my son is now that he’s not a newborn anymore, and how he is going to start really following my lead soon. I’m not kidding myself for one second into thinking that because I have a boy, I don’t have to worry about things like body image issues or self-love. My attitudes and behaviors will help mold the man he grows up to be, and I want the lens through which he views himself to be much, much more positive than mine, so I’d better get working on this. Nothing brings a bigger smile to his face right now than that baby in the mirror, and I’d like to keep it that way.

First step? I’m going to see how hot it is outside today, and I’m going to dress accordingly, so that I’m comfortable enough to wear my sling to carry around that perfect little being that this body created. If I don’t look perfect, so be it. And if I’m hungry, I’m going to make the best choice I can given the options at hand. 

And finally, if I pass a mirror in the course of my day, I’m going to tell that it doesn’t need to be perfect, because it’s pretty flippin’ remarkable the way it is. 


What do you think when you look in the mirror?

Do you ever get self-conscious in the grocery store?


Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food, The Everyday