My Daughter Is Nothing Like Me (& Turns Out, That's Perfect!)
From the moment the second line on the pee stick turned pink indicating my husband and I were expecting our first child, I longed for a daughter. Actually, if I am being honest, I wanted her long before that moment in the bathroom when I went from one body to two. I think I'd been wanting a daughter since I was old enough to play with dolls and I was only interested in the ones in pink and frills. So when my midwife waved her magic wand over my belly and told me in no uncertain terms that the babe inside was pink as could be, I cried with elation.
My husband was less sure. He'd been raised with only a brother. But I knew then and there I was getting the one dream I'd always had -- a mini me who would help bring back a mother-daughter relationship after the pain of losing my own mom at 16. It was too exciting.
Pink-laden baby showers were followed by the birth and eventually by the raising of my little girl and then (surprise!), 18 months later, her brother was born.
He was everything I never knew I wanted, all fat-cheeked and jolly. He nursed well (his sister hadn't), and by the time he was born, our daughter was an unabashed daddy's girl who cried for "dada" when she woke in the night and ran into his arms first. She loved me (still does!), but her love is more cautious, less whole-bodied and loud.
I was too busy with the new baby to be especially bothered, so it took a few years for me to really notice.
She is nothing like me.
It's obvious in our faces. "He looks just like you," people say when they see my son. His wide nose echoes mine and his hazel eyes, all big and sweet, are like looking into a mirror. My oldest daughter, on the other hand, has her father's green eyes and angular face as well as his long limbs and impressive height.
She's like him in other ways, too.
My son's devil may care attitude is how I was as a child. I hated paying attention in school and was obsessive about my passions outside the classroom. I loved theater and dance and writing. He loves guns and trucks and superheroes. It's different, sure. But I recognize it all the same.
My daughter, on the other hand, is an A+ student who would rather cut off a toe than miss a homework assignment. She draws well (I can't even make a straight line), sings with perfect pitch (my bad voice is legendary), and never has a mean word to say about anyone (I like about five people in the world). She's all my husband.
It's more than that, too. Earning my son's love is easy. He's all smiles for mama and hugs when he sees me. If I forget to pack his underwear for camp, he wears his swim trunks with a smile. My daughter, on the other hand, plays mind games.
"Mommy you forgot to pack my black outfit for the camp talent show," she tells me, all forlorn. "I had to sit it out."
Did I know I was supposed to pack it? "Well no. I forgot to tell you. But still."
But still, indeed. I can see the pain on the horizon. The fights. The butting of heads that mothers and daughters do that I never went through since my mother died before we could manipulate one another and play bad female games.
I got the child mini me I'd dreamed about, though. It's just that he has male parts.
It's not that I don't love my daughter. I adore her. I am in awe of all the things she is that I never have been -- her athleticism, her sunny personality, her ease with making friends. She's pretty swell, too. She's just nothing like I anticipated.
By the time my third child rolled around last January, I'd known better than to have any expectations -- or even a preference. When I heard she was a girl, I was thrilled. You always are when you hear your baby is healthy, gender be damned. But I was also cautious. The boy I'd never known I wanted had turned into my less complicated child. Would this new girl be like her sister or like her brother? Was it gender or just the fact that children are all different from one another?
Six months in, it's hard to say. My third baby is different than either of her siblings. She prefers me. I like to think it's because we have a connection, though my husband tells me it's just my boobs (thanks, dear!). The truth is that each of my three children is so much more than the sum of their parts or the color of their baby shower.
If I've learned anything, it's that a pink onesie doesn't predict anything more about your relationship with your child than a Magic 8 Ball could. The sex of your baby can't tell you whether they will prefer hiking to reading or whether their eyes will look more like yours or your partner's.
It's all a crapshoot.
So I'll dress my new girl in all her frilly dresses and slide the sparkly headbands onto her head. Tutus are adorable and I will enjoy the fun of having a little girl. But I know better than to have an agenda. She'll unfold the way she unfolds.
She may like dolls. She may not. She may want to play princess or she may want to climb rocks. No matter what she is, she will be herself. Whatever that may be.
And I can't wait to see it.
Did you have expectations of your daughter or son?