When my son was a baby and toddler I used to do my makeup everyday while sitting on the floor in front of a large mirror that I leaned against the wall. These days I do my makeup standing up, with everything stored at a height above where two little curious arms and hands can reach. I also have a much larger makeup collection and more extensive daily routine now, compared to back then. But, when Coop was very young my makeup routine was relatively fast and every piece of product and tool I owned fit securely in one little bag. If Cooper was awake – he was right there with me: In my lap, sitting next to me, watching me, reaching for things, and requesting that I put makeup on him too.
I always wanted my first child to be a boy. Why? I don’t know. I’m fairly certain that it stems from my desire to have had a big brother. Ha. But somehow, my first baby was a boy, and I was over the moon with excitement. I said lots of “I told you-s!” and “I just KNEW it was a boy-s!” I didn’t. I just wanted him to be a boy. 😉 Don’t get me wrong. I love being a girl mom. BUT I always knew that I was meant to be a boy mom. Again why? Oh – let’s be honest. For all those social cliche reasons. I wanted him to be a protective big brother if he were to have younger siblings. Watching my little boy geek out over comic books and/or video games. Seeing him play baseball…or some kind of sport. Girl clothes are cute. I die for Soso in pink and flowers. However, I do really really like dressing boys. Button down shirts. Converse tennis shoes with black skinny jeans. Toddlers in bow ties and mulligan hats. Shorts paired with suspenders. All of it. I was head over heels in love with the idea of what a boy was supposed to and what I thought he would look like.
It was in those early moments – when I would apply my makeup, and Cooper wanted to be a part of that – that I knew I had been terribly wrong about how I thought I would raise my boy.
I was watching a speech that Emma Watson gave wherein she said that “we need to perceive gender as a spectrum – not as two opposing sides.” Now that was loosely paraphrased from my memory, BUT I think the point still rings loud and clear. Gender is and always has been a social classification. Gender has nothing to do with your sex. Your sex is determined by the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. Gender is the socially constructed roles, behaviors, attributes, and activities that a given society considers appropriate for a man or woman. Did you hear that? SOCIALLY constructed.
Boys don’t just like blue, and girls don’t just like pink. My son, he always has and still does show an interest in the clothes I’m wearing, the makeup I’m applying, and many other ‘girly’ things that I do on a daily basis. You know what else he is obsessed with? Tractors. Wood chippers. Garbage trucks. 18 wheelers. Making the sounds associated with a running weed eater or flying plane. If his dad is playing a video game, Cooper wants to know all about what’s going on – sometimes he even wants to play too. Cooper loves to play outside. He is most happy when his hands are dirty from doing some form of hard labor.
There are a lot of things that I do as a parent – A lot of things that I allow my children to do because I’m saying fuck conventional expectations. I’m doing this the way I want. I’m not going to traumatize my child by insisting that he (or she) do something the way it is expected by society when that expectation has no bearing on the well being of my child. Want to know an expectation that has absolutely no bearing on the well being of my child? The expectation that he can’t be excited to play with mommy’s makeup brushes or wear some of her lipstick. The expectation that he shouldn’t recognize that his sister is wearing the cutest dress and looks pretty “like a princess”, because he appreciates and loves the dress just as much as she does.
I decided a while ago that I wouldn’t limit my son’s interests. I’m not going to tell him, “No you can’t do that because that’s for girls.” “No, you can’t play with that baby doll, because girls play with baby dolls.” And on and on and on.
When it comes to things like makeup? Yes. I will tell him, “No, you can’t wear this foundation – because you are too young.” That’s what I would tell my daughter. There have been days that he has left the house wearing just the faintest application of blush on his cheeks and a crap ton of chap stick on his lips. Several times, I’ve let him dig into my translucent face powder and watched as he expertly tapped the brush to remove the excess powder – then he proceeded to load his face up with the stuff. I didn’t wash it off. He spent the day like that.
I will treat them equally. There are and will be things that I restrict them from doing at separate times due to age, intellectual ability, and physical ability. For instance, Sophie is not allowed to hold my makeup brushes. Why? Well – She’s 1 and a half. She’ll just put them in her mouth. Which is not cool. Not cool at all man.
The other day, as Cooper and Sophie were preparing to leave with their dad – Sophie asked for a bow to be put in her hair. This is a new request that she’s started doing. It always makes me giddy. Cooper notices that. So that day, he asked for a bow too. I didn’t think twice. Honestly. I really didn’t. We went straight to the big basket of bows. I picked one out for Sophie, and I picked one out for Cooper. He left the house that way. I know that not everyone in my son’s life will support this stance. This commitment of mine. And that’s ok. We are all entitled to our own opinions and viewpoints. And that’s a little lesson in real life. To hear different ideas. For even your closest loved ones to be at odds when it comes to subject like gender equality, religion, politics, and so many other important topics – is not uncommon.
But, I. I will let my son wear a bow ,if he wants to. And Cooper, he will see that. I’m his mom. I grew him inside me. I raise him everyday. A lot of times I feel like being a mom to this growing boy is not so hard. Sometimes I get it all wrong. Sometimes we both end up in tears of sadness and regret. But with this? With gender equality? With teaching him – and demonstrating to him…even in the smallest of actions…I’m doing my damndest to get it right.
It’s not about the bow. It’s not about the makeup. It’s not about any of that superficial stuff. It’s about the way we treat each other. It’s about the way we respect each other’s life choices. It’s about the fact that my son notices the things that I fawn over and dote about concerning my daughter. He notices when she does things that make me happy. He wants to make me happy too. He’s three – He’s not asking to wear the bow in order to make some sort of life statement. He just wants to be a part of our world. I’m not going to shut him out. I’m not going tell him that thinking that way is wrong. Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a part of and contribute to the things that make your loved ones happy. There is nothing wrong with taking joy in the things that your loved ones take joy in.
So, I say – Let the boys wear bows. 🙂