Wednesday, December 29, 2010

La vie en rose

I'm ashamed that I ever felt ambivalent about having a girl. Now that la Petite is here, so beautiful and so herself, I feel ashamed that I ever could have doubted, even abstractly, that I wanted her to be who she is. As her mother, I already feel a fierce feminine solidarity, ready to defend her as absolutely perfect to anything who dares say otherwise. She's been nursing well and gaining weight, and when my husband proudly pointed out her "fat," I irrationally jumped to her defense. It isn't fat, I countered, it's 100% beautiful baby! (Never mind that baby fat is actually biologically necessary.) Similiarly, when he mentioned that with her thin, short hair she looks like a boy, I protested. To me, she's obviously a girl. And a gorgeous one.

I'll have to tone down that knee-jerk response a bit as time goes on.

Before she was born, I had visions of walking out of the hospital with her wrapped tight next to me in a baby carrier, confident as I hadn't been with my firstborn. The day we actually went home, although she was snuggled up in the wrap just as I'd imagined, I was feeling shaky. Exhausted. Unsure of myself, although not nearly as much as the first time around. We walked half a block to the car and carefully buckled la Petite in her car bed, then drove ten minutes to home with her fussing in the back seat.

I cried, as I'm wont to do in such situations. My daughter was coming home. When we'd left, she was a mystery, a quantity of questions, an imminent event, a stranger. Now she was real.

And I, skeptical as I'd been of all things pink, pointed out with joy that, as we turned the last corner to our apartment building, the radio was playing "La vie en rose."

6 comments:

Melba said...

I know this feeling, that knee jerk reaction to defend your perfect baby girl. People still, at 11 months old, mistake Annie for a boy, despite the fact that I dress her head-to-toe in very girly clothes. I think maybe people default to assuming a baby is a boy or something. Or they look at the face and try to figure it out without noticing the very obvious signs that I try to give with her clothing.

I don't know why people make this mistake, because she DOES NOT look like a boy. And neither does La Petite, I'm sure. I can always tell if a baby is a boy or girl. What's wrong with all those people who can't?

Enjoy your little girl. I love having girls. There's some sort of "we are the women of this family" thing about it, that maybe only women can understand.

Sylvie said...

Sounds like the beginning of the best kind of love affair.

Sylvie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Melba - According to my mother and consistent with photographic evidence, I was mistaken for a boy into toddlerhood. Then I got a full head of very curly blond hair (which went brown quickly) and the problem was solved without any trauma for me (maybe some for my mom), at least until I was in elementary school and had short hair for a time. I remember going to Girl Scout camp and being asked why I was there because "you're a boy." That wasn't a fun day.

@Sylvie - you are so right!

Cloud said...

As the mother of bald babies whose father isn't very fond of the color pink... my girls got mistaken for boys a lot when they were little! I think people default to boy when they aren't sure because it is somehow less fraught to call a girl a boy than to call a boy a girl. Our culture is screwy that way.

hush said...

Don't be ashamed about having felt ambivalent about having a girl. I can relate. It is a 'fear of the unknown' thing in part, I think. Now that La Petite is part of the family, I'm glad that it is all feeling really natural for you. It has taken me awhile. ;)