I am a mother of boys. I own it, flaunt it, revel in it. It's practically my brand. "I am the household goddess and queen bee," I wrote in my book, in a chapter titled Penis Ennui. I wouldn't have it any other way, I tell people. Toilet seat battles notwithstanding.
When I read a blog post by a father struggling with princess culture, or a doctor offering advice on preparing girls for their first period, or hear my friend's stories of their daughters' latest schoolyard drama, I think, whew. Thank god I dodged that bullet. Girlhood is complicated. At least, mine was. I went through youthful feminine archetypes like a five-year-old changes costumes. I was a girly-girl, then a tomboy, then an ugly duckling (pecked at by the mean girls), then a "bad" girl (popular with the boys and men, not so much the girls and women). As an adult, I came to love women, but girls still scare me. I'm too damaged in my own girlhood to raise a daughter, I tell myself. It would open too many wounds.
But then I come across pictures of someone's daughters goofing around in ringlets and ruffles, or a friend's teen on her way to her first formal, or scroll past an instagram of a fierce little girl jumping through puddles in her pink shoes, and I feel something. Something between a twinge and a pang.
The secret truth is, I sometimes miss her -- the daughter I'll never have. Complications and all. Wounds and all. Maybe opening them up would help them heal. Because I didn't really dodge that bullet. It's lodged in me.
Raising kids can be the most wonderful kind of do-over. In mothering my boys, I get to mother parts of myself that somehow got left behind in childhood. I've done a lot of growing up since becoming a parent. But there are places their boyhood can't take me, places where the girl I was waits for the mother I'll never be.
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