Too often recently I have had Beth’s behaviour explained away with, “it’s because she’s a girl”. Even worse are the predictions some people make about our future relationship “because she’s a girl”. Initially I tried to laugh it off but to be honest it really gets under my skin. Beth doesn’t do anything “because she’s a girl”. She does what she does because she is Beth.
It’s no secret that Beth struggles to sleep soundly although hopefully she seems to be making progress in that department. Apparently she doesn’t sleep very well “because she’s a girl”. Really? It wouldn’t happen to be that she spent a traumatic first week in NICU, which is like a war zone where there is constant noise, flashing lights, and life and death situations every minute? Or that she suffers from severe silent reflux? Or that she is still really titchy and so needs extra nutrition at night? Or that sometimes she misses her mummy and daddy and needs a cuddle, just as they miss her in the night time? I wonder how that explanation accounts for the sleepless nights parents with baby boys have. Huh?!
Beth likes to feed herself and while at breakfast she is happy to be fed her porridge and fruit like a hungry little cuckoo, lunch and tea are often a bit of messy battle with Beth fighting for control over the spoon whilst blowing raspberries with any puréed food that makes it near her mouth! Give her a toast soldier with hummus on it or a broccoli floret or two to grab and put in her mouth herself and you’re onto a winner. This is “because she’s a girl”. Not because she is fiercely independent. Not because it is far more fun to get stuck in and make a mess. Not because it is extremely gratifying for her to be able to satiate her hunger herself. Not because the sensory experience brings a sense of satisfaction. No, it’s “because she’s a girl”. I guess my husband hasn’t told me that he’d rather I puréed his food and fed it to him every night. Is that because he is NOT a girl?
Sometimes Beth gets grizzly and I don’t know what she wants. Is it her gums? Gas? Reflux? Is she tired? Is her nappy wet? Is she too hot? Does she want a particular toy? Does she need a cuddle? Is she feeling a bit overwhelmed? Is she overstimulated? The list is endless. Nowhere on my list is she grizzling “because she’s a girl”. But no, that’s what I’m missing! You see, girls do that. They’re manipulative from day one and wrap you around their little finger as soon as they lay eyes on you. WHAT?!! Yes. I have actually been offered this explanation more than once. What an indictment on girls! And on Beth. Babies grizzle. Both girls and boys. And it’s because something in their environment needs to change, whether physically or emotionally. Certainly not because they’re genetically predisposed to grizzle or not.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I am really fired up now. And so will segue into the horror of predictions about Beth’s future behaviour and the relationship we will have “because she’s a girl”. I’ve been told to expect it to be tumultuous, tempestuous, torrid. If I look back at the relationship I had with my own mum, I would struggle to use any of those three words to describe it. Sure, we had our moments and I know I gave her countless sleepless nights (and not just as an infant) but our relationship was and is firmly rooted in love, respect, admiration and sometimes even awe. Am I not girl enough that we aren’t at loggerheads all the time and haven’t ever had one door slamming or hateful shouting episode? I am not so naive as to think that there won’t be challenges and clashes but I refuse to accept as a given, “because she’s a girl”, that our own relationship can’t also be built on qualities that are affirming and positive and entrenched in love.
Adam and I love our Beth with every fibre of our beings. And not “because she’s a girl”. We love her because she is feisty. She is the most determined person we know. She is so funny. She is a sensitive little soul. She is curious. She looks to us for reassurance often. She squeaks when she sees us first thing in the morning. She cries for us at night. She smiles not just with her whole face but with her entire body. We love Beth because she is Beth.