Blue is for Boys. I am a Girl.

I really didn’t expect that phrase so soon. I mean … THREE.

I’m sure I helped perpetuate the norms of boy and girl separation. We are potty training, so when we were out at Olive Garden once, she attempted to go into the men’s restroom and I redirected her to the little icon with the dress and said, “Girls go in this potty.” Mostly , so that she would know that boys and girls don’t go to the bathroom together, but well, I think I just made it stick in her head that girls wear dresses and boys don’t.

Now I’m frustrated. Not because it’s that big of a deal and frankly, she can like what she wants, be what she wants.

She’s old enough now to make her own choices. I’m doing my very best to make sure she knows she has options. She doesn’t have to be stuck in the social norms of what is expected of her.

She loves pink. Absolutely loves it. And I’m okay with that. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday theme to be, she told me Minnie and Mickey. I asked if she wanted Minnie to wear a pink dress or a red one. She picked pink. No hesitation. So pink it was and that included her pink castle cake. (Yes, that’s a cake, thanks Grammy!)

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Her Minnie Mouse Tea party was a little more low key than we have been used to, but with my being out of work right now, we didn’t have the money we usually have to rent the clubhouse and hold all the people we wanted to invite. So we invited her friends and mostly immediate family like grandparents and aunts/uncles who could make it.

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She likes to climb shit. Loves it. She loves to climb, the higher the better. And I’m well, I’m not okay with it as it gives me anxiety, but I’m okay with it.

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The pyramid she’s climbing in that second picture is 30 feet high made of metal and ropes. The sign outside the pyramid says for 5+ years and it probably makes me an irresponsible mom, but she’s been eyeballing the damn thing for over a year. Kim came with us to the park this last time and convinced me to let her climb it.

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Kim helped me keep my cool while my heart was in my throat, threatening to pump right out of my body! Literally, I was having small panic attacks the whole time, small squeaks emitted from my mouth and I was bouncing around on the ground like a spotter in gym, waiting for her to come tumbling down from that thing.

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But no matter how terrifying it was for me, so much so that Kim had to remind me to take pictures, which never happens. I am ALWAYS taking pictures, I don’t want her to lose that adventurous spirit. I don’t want her to be stuck in a box that says Boys do this and Girls do this. That doesn’t mean I don’t want her to be “girly” or traditionally feminine if that’s what she wants to be. I’m not bucking society just to be “progressive”. I just want to make sure that she know she has choices, that she has options. She can be whoever and whatever she wants to be!

Since she has had her birthday, we have kicked up our bedtime routine a notch. We read a story or two before bed every night and I think she really enjoys it. She can actually sit through a story and she can interact with me. It’s amazing to me the things she remembers.

We even went to the library the other day and she got to pick out her own book. From the time I told her we were going until we got there, she told me she wanted a “spider book” (YUCK), so we got her a spider book and she loves it, so much so, I may have to purchase it. She also got a Princess book, the “mouse and cookie” book, and “Llama Llama mad at Mama”.

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Along with a bed time story, I always ask her what her favorite part of the day was and what she wants to do tomorrow. I also ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s been pretty consistent for the last several months in saying “Doctor”. Guess I better save some money!

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Whatever she wants, I just want to nurture her spirit, her imagination and creatiivity. I want her to know she has so many options that she doesn’t have to stick to the norms of society, the gender stereotypes. I was just so disheartened today when I heard the phrase come out of her mouth.

“I don’t like blue. Blue is for boys.”

But blue isn’t just for boys. How do you relay that to a kid? She has to have heard that somewhere and it makes me sad. I have been working really hard to break those thoughts and really steer her down her own path, where ever that will be, I will follow her lead. And if she really just doesn’t like blue, that’s OK! I just don’t want it to be because she’s a girl and girls don’t like blue.

The more she grows, the more personality she gives and shows. I’m enjoying seeing her grow into this little person all of her own, but I want her to be the one making those choices, for herself. Because I love her with my whole heart and I want her to love herself with her whole heart.

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Settling In and Smoothing Out

There are hard parts about this move and the transition from independence to the changes that we have had to come to terms with. I like to think the hardest part right now is that we had to take Punky out of school, because we got so backed up on tuition and it now needs to be caught up. It will get there, but it is a sacrifice that I am so very sad about – she was starting to thrive socially, her teachers kept telling me how much more she was talking and interacting. She’s a shy kid and she’s not exactly a social butterfly – especially when she started school, so to hear those things – made me so happy! And, now, we are back to an only child being at home with adults.

The good part about the move is Miss Punky is sporting the best tan on a toddler I have ever seen. Seriously. Grammy has a small pool and our little fish is out there in her swimsuit as often as she can possibly get an adult to take her out there. She goes on trips to the park with Papa in the wagon.

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Yea, we have a park – literally in our backyard. Do we live in the basement, yea, but we also live in a neighborhood. Last time I pulled Punky around in the wagon – over to the park that is pretty much right across the street, I got to thinking that we didn’t have this when we were living our apartment. We had a cluster of apartment buildings, but we didn’t have ‘neighbors’ or kids playing in the streets. We didn’t have houses to walk past and she didn’t really see lawns being mowed.

Another silver lining, new things to explore. Of course more thing to hurt ourselves on. I fell down one of the three sets of stairs today and busted my knee and threw my camera on the concrete of the garage in the process. I am currently wearing my knee brace, but I think I will live! Punky’s lip is healing up nicely, this morning it was scabbed over, and I was resisting the urge to pull it off, it fell off by itself this evening before dinner.

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My little monkey is such a little curious thing. So it was great to see her be able to explore and enjoy herself. Its super hot, so when we get the chance to make it to the park in the early hours of the day – when it is cooler outside, we take the chance. She finds all sorts of great things to play on and I love capturing the moments. With a pool and a park in our backyard, this summer may be the best yet, no matter where we live!

 

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Another weight lifted off my shoulders this week, when my FMLA was approved for my absences as work. It means that for all things that have gone this last year, my job is being held for me. Thank goodness it was approved. Without it, I likely wouldn’t have a job and I am not dismissive about the fact that there are a lot of things we need to work on and I have a plan in place – but its a weight that makes me feel lighter and a little more free.

With all the weights getting lighter from my shoulders, it feels like someone else is holding onto the reigns and keeping me afloat. My heart isn’t as heavy and for now, I will let someone else push me. (AKA, Miss Punky was insistent that she push me on the swing, no she did not want to sit on the seat, Mommy, you sit and I will push you.) Silly as it is, but being pushed on the swing – really gave me a sense of freedom and it was great to hang out with my little girl in what feels like the longest time we have ever gone since the last time we spent time together.

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We get to spend more time together lately, and with the basement being a smaller space, we spent it closer together. I really do love coming home from work and the three of us going down into the basement and sitting on my bed with  my little girl and talking about what she did that day. We don’t spend all night down there – we sit down to dinner with Grammy and Papa, that’s different for us to, cooked meals and sit down at a table together for dinner, we didn’t do that at our home. So many good things are changing as a result of something that may not have been so good.

Kim and I have things to talk about again. I mean, I can come home and we can just decompress and talk about our day and talk about something other than the mundane and same old thing. We have conversations. We are closer. The metaphor of the small space, the closeness of the basement means we are all becoming closer, bonding and in a way, regardless of what I expected – its a great outcome for us, so far.

 

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Of course, we have only been here for three days – its still the beginning and I have no misgivings that this will be the way this situation will stay. I am sure there will be days when the closeness is the last thing I want, when the lack of private space is the last thing I want, when the constant companionship is something I will want to get away from and have no where to go. But, for now, its just calm and comforting.

We are making new adventures. New memories. We are building new hopes and new plans and new situations. We are exploring, growing and expanding and in all of it, my only hope is that we can bring forth a sense of strength, courage, and determination to our daughter. She doesn’t have to know the circumstances of our situation, the analogies of the bottom in the life we are in right now  – she doesn’t need to know the tears shed behind closed doors or the decisions made in the conversations we have in the dead of night – in the whispers words we speak in desperation of what’s left for us to do.

Instead, she will only know happy. She will only know the memories and the joy. I will only allow her to know the light and the peace and the childhood that she is to have. She is not a grown up and by whatever means necessary, she will not have to be one as soon as I had to be one – I will keep her little and I will let her be a child for as long as I possibly can keep her that way.

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Being a grown up is over-rated and believe me when I say if I could figure out how to go back and make that part stop, be a child longer, savor the playful moments longer, linger in childlike joy and entertain my teddy bears and Barbies just a little more – I would! Alas that’s not allowed, once you are grown up, there’s no turning back and I will not force my baby to grow up. I won’t.

So we are making the best and we are slowly getting out of the holes and smoothing out the bumps. Its not a fix all and its most certainly not the end, but the beginning is looking bright.

Oh and as a side note, all heavy shit aside, I am so proud and pretty darn excited that my kid loves Minnie Mouse and Batman equally! 😉 Its a pretty fantastic thing to me. Raising a kid without stereotypes is my ultimate goal and so far, it’s working out. She thinks for herself and that’s just the way we want her to be!!

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