Motherhood Mondays – The Princess and the Gender Role.

Today’s Motherhood Monday post is from a guest writer and an old friend of mine, Nicole. It’s a good one; I think you’re gonna like it.  -Kerry:)

This past Christmas we were in line to see Santa when it happened again.  A mom close by asked my children- age 6 and 8- what they were going to ask Santa for.  My six year old rattled off the list he had been sharing with anyone who asked, “the American Girl Doll of the Year Saige, the ponytail you can get to make her hair longer and black high heal boots size 10 and a half.”  The mom shifted her eyes to me and I got the smile and blank look.  I know that look by now.  It’s the “I don’t know what to say, I wasn’t expecting that answer” look.

My six year old is a boy.  He is a boy who loves his pink backpack and pink lunch box.  He is a boy who loves musicals and princesses.  He is a boy who loves dress up and make believe.  He is a boy who loves life.  We realize this may not be the “norm” for most six-year-old boys, but you would really be surprised how many people tell you their stories when they hear his.

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Bren went to his school Halloween party this year as Merida from Brave- wig, dress, heals and all.  It is his first year in a big public school and he is a first grader.  He walked with confidence into the gym and had a blast dancing with his friends.  It was almost as if he was unaware that it would be odd for a boy to show up in a princess dress.  After a teacher told me how proud he was of Bren, the school community for their acceptance and our family for letting him choose what he wanted and supporting him.

We have heard that before, people “impressed” with our parenting and letting Bren be Bren.  My husband and I talk about parenting often.  We come to the same conclusion in every conversation.  How can you not let your child be who they are?  It may be the Montessori education we got while the boys attended preschool to “follow the child,” but really we cannot imagine saying no to this enthusiastic free spirit who may be the bravest person we have ever known.  There is nothing impressive about letting your child be who they are, it is just love.  In the same way we encourage our older son Aidan to explore his interests for science and math, we let Bren explore his interests, which have lead us to theater.

Bren had the opportunity last summer to perform with older children in a play.  In his role he was needed for two weeks of rehearsals and six performances.  He was at practice for 10 hours a day including travel time.  More important than the play and experience on stage, Bren met older boys, 12 and 13 years old.  They thought his pink lunch box was cool.  They sang songs from Legally Blonde the Musical with him.  They gave him tips backstage and invited him to sit with them at lunch.  The girls certainly did the same but Bren is use to relating to girls.  I truly believe these boys gave him his confidence.  It let him see there are others like him.

I share a lot of stories and pictures on Facebook about my kids.  I started to so that when people met the boys they knew what to expect.  Both can be overwhelming in their own worlds.  What has come of it has been an opportunity to have conversations with others about gender roles, parenting choices and give and get support.  We have a lot of laughs in our family and I love to share our boys’ love of life.  It has been quite an adventure so far and I am so glad I have had the opportunity to share our parenting journey.

And Santa did bring Bren the American Girl doll, ponytail and high heal boots.  He was on the nice list so how could Santa not?

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When I started this blogging series, Nicole immediately volunteered to write something.  She asked if there were any length requirements (there aren’t), and if I had a particular subject I wanted her to address.  OH how I did; I wanted to hear about Bren.  BUT, just like she talks about in her story, I didn’t want to ask for that topic because I also think his interest in dolls and musicals and wigs is no big deal.  Therefore, I didn’t want to point it out as if it was.  I am one of the lucky people who follow Nicole on Facebook and get to delight in the photos and conversations she posts (and, it should be noted, Aidan is just as hilarious as Bren… they must laugh all. the. time. in that house).  So when she submitted the exact story I wanted to hear, I was thrilled.  Not just because I wanted to read it, but because I knew others would too.  Nicole and her husband are amazing parents; they’re what we all want to be for our kids; parents who embrace the child as they are.  They do it without being mushy or obnoxious about it; they just let their kids be themselves and they share the resulting hilarity with the rest of us.  The love in their house is abundant.  And it is an honor to get a glimpse of it now and then.

Nicole – thank you so much for sharing your story.  I can’t wait to belt out some showtunes with Bren at Castle Island sometime this summer.

Motherhood Mondays is a feature I’m hosting here on my photography blog while I’m out on maternity leave.  Have a parenting story you’d like to share?  Feel free to send it in to me at kerryrailey@gmail.com.

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