Raising Lily, Reading

Girl cover
It’s a Girl edited by Andi Buchanan.
I’ve just read most of the essays in this book, and I’ve loved them.

Why “most”? Because I couldn’t read the last few–the ones about letting go. My oldest child isn’t quite five, and even thought there are plenty of moments when letting him go–ANYWHERE–sounds pretty good, the truth is that I can’t even think about them grown up and even a little bit gone. I’ll trust I’ll handle that somehow when it happens!

Three essays really struck home for me. The first two–Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Confessions of a Tomboy Mom and Girl House from Yvonne Latty resonated on the same topic: Girliness. Mitchard half expected, half feared a girly girl, but got a tomboy. Latty, execting that tomboy, got a pair of super girly girls.

Lily’s only two, so it’s too early to say where she’ll fit on the spectrum–but it’s not too early to say that I spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about it. It’s safe to say that I want her to be exactly as girly as I want her to be at any given moment. I think that’s going to go well, don’t you?
When she chooses Sam’s rattiest old t-shirt and a pair if striped pajama bottoms and refuses to wear anything else, when she stubornly removes her ponytails or hair clips every single time, when she’s the kid with dirt on every part of her that’s showing and every other little girl in the room sports neat hair and a matching playdress with leggings, part of me is proud of my little individual, and part of me–a big part–really wants her to just wear the playdress and ponytails! I’m not asking her to bind her feet, wear a ruffly white pinafore and keep it clean or let me put curlers in her hair. It’s a soft cotton playdress! It’s cute!
And when she chooses baby dolls over Thomas trains, demands pink shoes and starts eying an older friend’s dress up princess nightgowns…I panic then, too. I do not want a Disney princess in this house. I’m conveniently ignoring all the years when I longed to be a princess myself, telling myself it’s the commercial aspect of it I hate…but it’s not really true. I’m not really comfortable with the whole sparkly tiara thing.
So thanks to Mitchard, for reminding me of the virtues of the tomboy–and that tomboys are still girls underneath. And thanks to Latty, for describing the super-girly preschooler so well…and for reminding me that it doesn’t last.

But my biggest thanks go to Joyce Maynard, a writer who has never shirked the writerly duty of telling the truth, for pointing out one of the ugliest truths of motherhood: that it’s all about me.
If Lily’s a Disney princess, what does that say about me? If she won’t dress neatly, if she dosn’t clean up well, what kind of mother does she have? Whatever kind I am.

Maynard’s essay is about beauty, and weight, and self image, and those are things I struggle with in myself on Lily’s behalf, but it’s that nasty little pile of truth under it all that really struck me, and that I hope will stay with me: Lily’s not the problem. She can be as girly as she wants, or as big a tomboy as she can be–and she will be. If that’s a problem, well, it’s not her problem unless I make it her problem. It’s mine.1000 payday loans easy1000 payday fax loanpayday 11 cash united loan 20,16unsecured loan 2,500arm loan year 5loan 5 7 payday vegas9 loan 9 cash fast auto9 9 personals loan personal Map

701 Responses to “Raising Lily, Reading”

  1. Manic Mom says:

    You have time to read, breastfeed, change diapers, take care of kids, plan a book blog tour, work on revisions, blog, email?

    You amaze me!

  2. chelle says:

    The book sounds really interesting! I have so many books in stand-by! Need to read more! Totally adding this one to the list! Thanks for the great review.

  3. nina says:

    wow, cute blog!

    i enjoy the design…
    too bad, i didn’t buy the book, it was in my hand already…
    well, i think i’ll just order it…
    thx for sharing


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