Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Didn't Get The Girl Manual

It's been a long exhausting day of girliness.

The day kicked off with a tights drama, moved into a hair drama, continued with an brother-in-the-wrong-carseat drama, a who-sits-with-whom in the church pew drama.  We hit midday with a birthday present drama, a right-clothes-for-the-party drama, another hair drama (extra dramatic this time), and then a riding-with-BFF-to-party drama.

Oooh Mommy, the party was so so so much fun!

Then we cruised into the late afternoon with a pleasepleaseplease-can-BFF-come-play drama, an I-hate-games-including-little-brothers-drama, and then a super-spectacular tiff-to-end-all-tiffs-with-BFF in which we simply could not stop the heaving sobs and the general noise of broken heartedness.   Until we decided we could stop, and go downstairs to play with BFF and little brothers, and even baby sister, all participating in the group-coordinated theatrical presentation of Wedding at the Castle.

I'm exhausted.  Are you?

The night Cecilie was born, the very moment the midwife announced 'it's a girl!', my first thought was are you sure? Because I don't know how to do girls!  Then they handed this tiny mite of a thing to me, we locked eyes, and my second thought was holy beshmeezus.  I am never going to survive thirteen.

Because here's the problem:  I never got the Girl Manual.

You know the one, the one I know a lot of girls get, where they tell you about how to do french braids, when to give a friend a hug and when to tell her to 'stay cool',  how to attract boys in nightclubs and how to choose great shoes.  I am spectacularly ungifted in so many areas of Female Expertise.  

I have especially missed having the Accessories Chapter. Oh, and Friendships.  Some women just seem to navigate the complex territory of both topics effortlessly - just as they know when to wear dangly earrings, they know when to call and check in, how to rally their troops around them in time of crisis, and how to be unconditionally encouraging.   For me, I always feel like the penny drops too late:  too late I realize that a hug would have been well-placed, a phone call would have made all the difference, what a few carefully chosen chocolates might have meant.

(Let's be clear:   I have a number of really amazing women friends, and as I mature I am only more and more aware of the richness these friendships bring to my life.  I'm just saying I've managed this almost in spite of myself and my bumbling efforts.)

I'd always planned on raising a pack of boys.  I know how to address hitting, lying, and poor hygiene. I feel I could even add something useful to the discussion of How to Talk to Girls.  Heck, I'm just going to admit it:  I am deeply grateful that I was given one boy child so that I could feel like an effective parent at least 33% of the time. 

I bring this up only because I find myself increasingly flummoxed when it comes to helping my own girls learn to navigate this territory.  I just feel so profoundly unqualified to help them figure out how to be women.  Someday, probably someday soon, my girls will get together in their bedroom and agree - "Mom is just no good at this."

My theory right now is that I got girls because I needed to learn Girls.  I have my chance for a do-over, to try to find The Manual, to try to find the map that will help my girls do this whole Life thing gracefully, happily, and with meaning.  That is The Manual I want to find.

(If it has a chapter on Accessories, I might have to steal it.)


Cheryl said...

You don't need a manual. Because by the time everything's all figured out, kids just go ahead and change everything on you anyway! Oh - not only do I have no clue how to do hair, I also am the least crafty person on the planet - which affects ALL my kids!

Des said...

I LOVE this - have to say you and I are cut from the same cloth..and now a girl for i'm sure won't demand to wear jeans under her dress....mercy on me!

dutchmuse said...

You sure don't need a manual ~ you're one amazing woman and incredible mama!

Amy said...

I've really enjoyed the tales from the "yellow house" in recent weeks. You are a talented writer and funny too!

Thanks for sharing your blog with me.

kirsten said...

Hi Amy - welcome to CrazyTown! Thanks for stopping by. (Silly covers all manner of things.)

Elemar said...

I feel the same way you do about not knowing how to understand girliness. The truth is, however, one day your son-in-laws will thank you profusely for not raising a girly-girl. For every non-girly-girl, there is a man SO thankful that there are non-girly-girls in this world because he doesn't feel so much like a manly-man. It's a good thing. Plus, all that girly stuff is just socialized, not real! :)

hezro said...

Ohmigosh! I wanted a brood of boys too because like you, I was never the girliest girl. Even know, as an adult, when I thought those things were a little more transparent, I was commenting to one of my neighbors that Annika is becoming such a tomboy and my neighbor (a guy) said, "What?! Your daughter?! No way." (I'm sure I don't have to explain the amount of sarcasm with which he delivered that.) So I guess it's good to know there are others out there like me. So I'm sure you totally understand when I say that sometime I look at my three daughters huddled together doing something or other and can't help but shudder with horror at what's to come. In about ten years we can all start meeting at some bar to commiserate and share horror stories. :)

hezro said...

I really ought to proof my comments in the future...

kirsten said...

Heather, I would say that the separation of "Girl Stuff" and "Boy Stuff" is more entrenched than ever. Depressingly. Mothers in the 70s were encouraged to use gender-neutral everything, and here we are with pink "GIRL" Legos in Toys R Us. SIGH. A whole other post brewing....

Keda said...

I always wanted to have a girl, but there was a moment where we thought our first (and so far only) was going to be a boy, and I loved that idea too. But with girls I am on more secure ground. I know how to do girl, much like you know how to do boys. But I think for the first couple of months, it really does not matter much either way (besides little boys letting go apparently only when they are without nappy).

But girls are probably more complex in any case. We have moods, cycles and require more safe keeping. But you never get what you can't handle and obviously you needed her as much as she now needs you.

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