Blogging also has allowed me to record thoughts and memories that I may have lost in the fog of early motherhood. For this, I am eternally grateful.
So please, allow me to take you back to July 2008. My little Aubrey was only 13 months old and I was thinking about different things back then. In particular, what it meant to me to have a little GIRL...
When I found out I was having a girl, I admit I was disappointed for a split second because I had a gut feeling it was a boy for weeks. However, once that passed, I was excited at the thought of having a mini-me and was eager to share the news. Responses of, “Girls are so fun to shop for!” and “I hope you like pink,” were heard a million times. But amongst the cutesy, positive responses were a shocking number of anti-girl, Debbie-downers that really threw me for a loop. These continued even after I had my daughter, and still today at 14 months. AND people will sometimes say them right to my face while I'm holding my daughter! Things like:
“I’m so glad I had boys. Girls are so emotional.”
“Little girls get the ‘I Wants’. They learn it from their mommies.”
“Wait ‘til she hits puberty – they're terrible.”
“Enjoy her now while she’s still sweet.”
And the ever popular:
“Girls are easier in the beginning, but wait until she’s a teenager!”
Hearing these comments make my blood boil and the most amazing part of is that about 99% of the time, these comments are made by… women. I actually had a colleague tell me that her 5 year old daughter was, “a bitch”. WHAT?! I am a professional comedian, but she wasn’t joking. Being on the receiving end of these comments made me examine my own feelings about being female and my feelings towards my own mother.
I was well aware of my mother’s own lack of self-respect from day one. She has had a weight problem since childhood and spent years living vicariously through me as a somewhat overbearing stage mother. I really cried and begged her to not make me wear a muumuu and sing songs from South Pacific in front of all of my friends in the school talent show. And I begged her to not make me sing in church or play the piano for relatives. And when I was in 4th grade and asked her why women couldn’t be pastors in our church, her response was, “I wouldn’t want to listen to a woman’s sermon anyway. Their voices are so shrill.” When I told her I got my period, she said, “Well, now you’ve got THAT to deal with for the next 40 years.” Instead of buying me a training bra, one day she told me how embarrassing it was that she could see my nipples through my shirt. I could fill a novel with examples of how my mother taught me to hate being a girl.
Why is it that we, as women, are so quick to project our own self-loathing on to our girls and that all to often, women are their own worst enemy? I’ve been told that many women are afraid of dealing with daughters because they remember how terrible they were as girls. This may be true, but I’d be willing to wager that a mother or some female role model laid the same blanket of self-hatred and less-than onto them. It’s a vicious cycle and I’m determined to break it with my own little emotional, bitchy, selfish, promiscuous, difficult, defiant, fat, ugly, catty, gossipy, bad at math and science, bimbo, air-headed girl.
And just for the record, I really love my mother dearly and I know the only reason she did it was because her mother did it to her. There are far worse things she could have done to me and I give her all the credit in the world for raising four bratty kids without any help. I file it all away under the “Live and Learn” tab and I’ve learned to let it go by joking about it on national tv with a microphone in my hand. And I still get a little surly whenever I put on a muumuu.
Oh, and one more thing. Writing this post made me think of a plaque that hung in our dining room my entire childhood. When I was first learning to read bigger sentences, I used to practice reading it over and over. The words from Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte stick with me still, today.