About the Princess Dresses…

If you see me in public with my children, the odds are pretty good that my daughter, Ellen will be wearing a princess dress. It’ll be poofy and glittery and girly – and not at all what I would have chosen for her. But it’s not my job to choose for her anymore (not ALL the time, anyway). I didn’t get to that place without a pretty entertaining internal fight.

Just Another Birthday Party

When I was pregnant with her, I made a big deal about decorating her room. I wanted it to be modern, but not too trendy. I wanted it to be beautiful but not girly and without reference to any established gender role. There was to be no pink, no frills. It had to be the place that would foster confidence as an individual, where she could be herself, where she would be encouraged to be strong. I took the same pressure I felt to make my womb the ideal place for her to develop and applied it to the room design. Those curtains made of black and white striped ticking (and not purple frill) were the first step to placement in advanced math classes!

I felt so much responsibility as the mother of a girl.

Noticeably pregnant, I was at the paint store trying to settle on the color for her room. I had three swatches on the counter and it was clear to the woman next to me that I was having trouble with the decision. We started talking. She offered her opinion, assuming I was carrying a boy based on my color choices. When I corrected her, I wasn’t prepared for her response. In her Southern way, (the way that you can technically be kidding or teasing because what you’re about to say is a little rude, and you’re going to do it with a smile so your rudeness will never stand up in court – but it’s also clear that you’re totally serious) she scolded me for not choosing any “girl” colors. She tried to shame me into a Pepto Bismol pink, right there in Lowe’s. I wouldn’t let the Old Guard influence me. I left the store triumphant, with two cans of a light, greenish-blue, another step closer to raising the next Olivia Pope.

Her Pre-K School Picture

My daughter turned five in mid-December. Her room is still that greenish-blue color. It is the backdrop for a multitude of princess-y, pinkish things, none of which I would have picked for her. She is a strong, independent girl – that LOVES all things princess. She spent 10 months as a part of me. Even after she was born, she was an extension of me. She was mine. In the beginning, I (as in me and my husband) had to make all of the decisions for her. I decided what she wore. (Confession: Her first pair of shoes were BOY’S shoes. They were the most uni-sex shoes I could find!) I decided when and what she ate, when she slept (or when she was supposed to sleep) and what books filled her shelves. I tried to shape her with the things that surrounded her and with the words I spoke to her. It was both gradual and in an instant that it changed – that she became her. And that I stayed me. It happened before I recognized it outright. Parenting is learning. I’ve learned that it’s hard for me to let go. I’m learning the joy in getting to know her as she becomes who she’ll be. Every day I make little adjustments, trying to walk the line between guiding her and letting her find her own way, as trite as that sounds. For now, she would like to play the princess. To her, that just means wearing the sparkly, poofy costumes. To me, “princess” always meant something else. I like her interpretation best.

Kristen is still in the middle of her love story. She and her best friend of four years gave in and finally decided to date. Two years later, she was engaged. Two years after that, she was married. She’ll celebrate her 17th wedding anniversary this May. Mom to Ellen (8) and James (5), she works full time in Human Resources outside of the home. Her children have taught her that motherhood is hard. And wonderful. And HARD. A proud alum of LSU and Johnson and Wales University, she also collects college degrees. (BS in Psychology, AS in Culinary Arts and BS in Culinary Nutrition). She’s lived in Baton Rouge a majority of her life, with sojourns in New Orleans, Charleston, SC and Providence, RI. The south is clearly home. Recovering from a nearly crippling case of adolescent insecurity, she is still the most likely to have the heel of her shoe caught in the hem of her pants.

1 COMMENT

  1. Although I ended up with two boys, I KNOW I would have felt the same way you did if I had girls! Kudos to you to continuing that open mind now, even though she chooses the different “girlie” route. You’re right, the key is SHE chooses. And she is happy because you allow her to! We really do learn as much from our kiddos as they do from us.

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