Monday, February 28, 2011

My Son is Girly?

My son likes to wear dresses. There, I’ve said it, he’s  attracted to all things beautiful. At dress up parties, while the boys were putting on evil monster costumes, my son got lost in the pastel colours and silky fabrics of princess gowns. It was cute. When he turned five, it became uncomfortable.

Around me, the reactions were very different. Clusters of family members began to display discomfort for my son’s preferences. What started as whispers amongst each other became a series of warnings. I was told I was “damaging J by letting him wear dresses. I was confusing him. I was turning him gay”. The situation was getting ugly and spiraling out of control.
The rest of the family was appalled at this attitude. They were more concerned with my son’s well being. “He’s just expressing himself. It’s just a stage. It will pass”.

Battle lines were drawn. My husband and I were caught in the middle.
Josh knew something was up. He had been told several times from “helpful” family members that dressing up was inappropriate for a boy. He did it anyway. But there was an increasing secrecy in his behaviour accompanied by anxiety. I was worried.

My husband was torn. Half of him wanted my son to feel free to express himself. But there was a greater concern that his son display more male behaviour. That’s when our fights started. My son’s love of dresses started to affect our family dynamic and our marriage. We had to take some action.
I asked around amongst my  mummy girlfriends, and a child psychologist was highly recommended. A month later my husband and I sat in her office, a box of Tissues close at hand.
After hearing about our emotionally charged situation, she spoke. “Your son needs to stop wearing dressing immediately.” I was shocked. “What? What about his imagination? His individuality? His love of all things beautiful?” I grabbed another Tissue .
She explained that one of the ways children understand their place in society is the way they dress. At his age, wearing dresses isn’t socially acceptable behaviour and warned he would likely become a pariah amongst his school friends. The fact that he was anxious while dressing girly also didn’t sit well with her. What he needed, she prescribed, was for us to give him firm guidelines with an explanation. To satisfy his artist self, she suggested we provide Josh with a box of art materials so he can design, draw and write about dresses to his hearts content. Female clothing was fine as long as it was on paper and not on his body
I wiped my tears, my husband drew a sigh of relief and we went home to chat with him.
“J”, I said “What would you think if you saw a fireman wearing a dress? Or, what if your teacher wore her pajamas to school? You’d think that’s strange, right? We wear clothes so people understand who we are. You’re a boy so you need to wear boy’s clothes. So no more dresses, OK?”
I swear I saw relief pass over his face. He smiled, said, “OK”, and jumped off the bed. It was that simple.

It’s been two months and J hasn’t gone near a dress since. He’s happier, less moody and more playful. And so am I.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Point and Shoot

I Heart Her
Joining in with Chantelle and point and shoot

The Perfect Mum

I’d like to take a moment to stop being so hard on myself when I compare myself to the “perfect mum.” I often think that if I could only do this or only do that, I’d be a much better mum. The Perfect Mum. Except that she doesn’t exist.

Most of us knew exactly what kind of mum we wanted to be when we first got pregnant. I know i did,

Some of us wanted to be the breastfeeding, co-sleeping, organic-toys-only mum. Some of us wanted to be the super-organized, never a hair out of place on yourself or your kids kind of mum. Some of us wanted to be the cool mum who your kids and their friends would love to hang out with.

Somewhere along the way, most of us got derailed from our original plans. The housekeeping went undone. Breastfeeding didn’t work. You actually heard the words, “NO!” when you tried to give your kids some limits. 

You’re not the perfect mum. But then again, neither am I. Nor is any other woman on the planet.
All Those "perfect mums" you see at the playground who seem to have everything together? They probably don’t. For all you know, they may have a secret drinking problem, or their marriage is on the rocks because they spend too much time on Twitter or Shopping  and not enough time cuddling with their hubbies. Or maybe it’s not that extreme – maybe they argue with their kids in the Car on the way home every night. Maybe they hire a maid and pass off bakery products as homemade at their kid’s birthday parties.

And when you really think about it, there’s no one right way to be a mum. Every child is different, so every mum has to have a different approach.

Think of all the decisions you have to make from the time your children are born. While many mums agree that breastfeeding is best, there are plenty of people who seem to think it’s disgusting and immoral. Mums who breastfeed get flak from one side, mums who bottle feed get flak from the other side. And when school starts? Some mums will look down on you for not signing your child up for every piano lesson, dance class, and sports team available, while others will frown at you for over scheduling your kids and not letting them enjoy enough downtime.

You just can’t win. So why bother fighting to be the Perfect Mum? Just be the best mum you can be, and let other people take their opinions and stuff them. If your kids are fed, clothed, sheltered, feeling loved, not abused, and not neglected… you’re doing fine. Be the best mum for your kids and let other mums worry about their own kids.