It's a Mom-Eat-Man Kind of World Out There

August 27, 2009

Expecting a girl baby is weird.

When James popped out, I was like, "Oh hey, you're a boy. Just so you know, you can be a doctor, a plumber, a Peace Corps volunteer, a teacher--I really don't care. The world's your oyster, kid. Just be sure to call your mother every once in a while."

And now that we have a girl on the way, I've got to admit that my attitude is totally and completely different. Maybe I should just go ahead and call it what it is--desperate. Desperate to teach this little girl that she can be whatever she wants to be, career, family and otherwise.

If you were to peek inside my bedroom window, you'd find me lecturing my stomach on a very regular basis. I'm like, "You listen here Lawlet Lawson! You will do whatever you want to do with your life and you won't think a damn thing about it! If you want to be a stay-at-home-mom, great. If you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, great. If you want to be an artist or a Buddhist nun, great. If you want to get all rich off some good idea and support your mother for the rest of her life then that's fine, too."

Then I take a deep gasp and I'm all, "Zero kids or twenty Lawlet, it's totally up to you. Never let a mechanic rip you off. Never rely on a man to be your source of self esteem. Never pay attention to fashion magazines and those stick-thin models. Always flash your middle finger when someone whistles at you. JUST BE HAPPY TO BE YOURSELF, DAMNIT!"

Then I cry, hyperventilate a little bit, and numb my anxieties with junk food. It's all very healthy. All very normal.

I was raised in a family that taught me all of those very important values. I played sports, I played the drums, I have a master's degree, I was a stay-at-home mom for three years, and I essentially told a contractor to eff-off yesterday when he exercised some super shady sales tactics--so to be quite honest, I'm not exactly sure where this is coming from. But let me assure you over and over, it keeps on coming.

Last night, Jared and I were going back and forth about middle names for this baby girl, without any sort of forward progress. Finally, after thirty minutes or so, Jared said, "You know, I don't even think girls should have middle names."

And sure enough, out came the 'I am Woman Mama Bear, Now Hear Me Roar' claws. I was like, "I'm sorry, what's that now? Girls don't need middle names?! Care to explain yourself you chauvinistic bastard of a penis carrier?"

And poor Jared, he just kind of sunk into himself and was like, "Well my mom and sisters don't have middle names. They just made their maiden names into their middle names when they got married."

"Is that so!?" I ranted. "Why don't you just hoist your scrotum up a flag pole and tell the world how superior you are? Huh? Really. Why don't you do that, Jared?"

And he was all, "On second thought, she really needs a middle name. I changed my mind."

And I was all, "What if she doesn't want to get married, Jared? What if she's too busy hiking Everest, or surfing in Tahiti, or nursing sick people back to health to even think about a husband?! What then?! She's supposed to walk around all middle-nameless for the rest of her life?! You're despicable."

"I'm sorry," he mumbled.

"And what else do I need to know?" I continued. "You'll disown her if she's a lesbian? Is that what you're about to tell me next? UCK! You totally disgust me!"

So he quietly said, "What about June? I think that's a really nice middle name. After my Grandma."

"Huh. June. I like that, too. Or maybe Elizabeth," I suggested. "It's classic."

And we continued like that--agreeably, peaceably, thoughtfully--for another thirty minutes.

Just a little mood swing, I suppose. A mere touch of overreaction.

So tell me this--Am I insane? Am I the only mother who's ever felt this way about raising a little girl? Should I have kept this entire subject to myself and never admitted these feelings in public? Am I about to get flogged in the comments?

I'm curious (and scared to press the PUBLISH POST button).


Bonni Michelle said...

Nope, not crazy... I have the same thoughts every time I look at my little girl. I tell her every day that she can do whatever the heck she wants and makes her happy.

Of course she's only four months old so she just grins at me and poops her pants :)

jennie w. said...

I think your feelings are pretty normal. Although I don't really want my girls to be Buddhist nuns. And I do hope they have kids.

But I did give them all two middle names. Just to stick it to The Man.

Kim said...

I just had my first girl 3 months ago. We didn't find out what the sex was and since I only had a boy I thought that I wanted another boy. Oh, was I ever wrong. Of course I want a girl! I want a strong girl, a tomboy, a feminist.

BUT... what if she turns out to be prissy and wants nothing more than to compete in beauty pageants and sing on any stage she lays her eyes on? I thought a girl would be easier than her rambunctious, crazy brother but I'm starting to think I am horribly mistaken.

I do hope she will become whatever she wants to be, perhaps in spite of, and regardless of, what I want for her.

David said...

I am the father of three boys. I really want them to live in a world of confident, happy, self-realized, and independent women (that applies to people generally). Keep on educating.

Regarding the number of names: perhaps you've got a biased mind as well. Why not one name? Or five names? Follow your inner Zappa.

Jenn said...

My parents didn't give me a middle name. It was HORRIBLE. I made up middle names for myself. I was filling out a form for college and the lady told me I had to put down my middle name. I told her I didn't have one. She said, "I don't care if you don't like it, PUT. IT. DOWN."
So I wrote in the blank: "I don't have a middle name."

What is worse than that? I have the most common first name ever given to man, um, woman.

So, yes, middle names are VITALLY important.

As for the rest of your comments, you are spot on. I tell my daughter every day that she can do and be whatever she wants. She does have a slightly inflated ego at this point, but rather that than the alternative.

Rhien Family said...

my sister didn't have a middle name, and she made my parent legally change her name as a teenager to add a middle name because it bothered her so much. She got to choose her own middle name.

girlsmama said...

You are totally normal. I go through it everyday with my FOUR daughters. I want them to to have every opportunity, but to be happy. I figure that will be drastically different for each of them.

And they all have middle names. Their middle names as well as first names all have family ties and I hope that brings them a sense of strength and heritage.

Joy Through Cooking said...

As a fellow tough as nails chick, sports and all, I am with you totally, not crazy at all!

by the way, thought you would like to know... I was on a totally diffent chat board I frequent and saw this exact blog entry posted there... you are totally famous :)

aimee said...

you are SO totally normal. my daughter is 4 and i think about this stuff every day. having a family behind her who supports and encourages her no matter what is the most fantastic start she can get - so pat yourself on the back!

amylouwho said...

I feel exactly the same way about my daughter. I feel like she is so vulnerable - the day she was born my guard went way WAY up. But you know - she's a strong independent soul. I'm pretty sure she'll be okay. As long as I don't screw her up too much.

I grew up without a middle name (I think it's a mormon genealogy thing). It didn't bother me that much. Most people I knew were embarrassed by their middle names anyway. My mom had her maiden name as her middle name, so I guess I thought it wasn't a big deal. I looked forward to being able to keep my first family name after I got married (not that you can't do that anyway...) And since I got married later than I hoped, I'm really glad that I have my maiden name as my middle name - I'm still her, with another name tacked on at the end that I chose. It's not all bad. (except the part about having babies in your late 30s).

That said, my daughter has a middle name - mostly because I liked the name so much and wasn't certain I'd have another opportunity to use it.

amylouwho said...

wow. sorry. That was one LONG comment.

Sarah said...

I have a middle name. But what I don't have is an extra first name - like both my brother and my sister do. (i.e. they both have 3 names besides their last name, and we all refer to them by their second name. I just have the first and middle name)

One more piece of evidence to support my forgotten middle child syndrome theory!!

I think the important thing is to treat siblings equally, boy or girl. And that includes the number of names you give them!!

Rynell said...

Feminism has been on my mind lately too. A lot. I still have talks with my 10 year old daughter telling her she can be anything she wants to be.

I don't have a middle name either. My maiden name became my middle name. I wish it were otherwise.

Chief said...

I only have boys as you know (or maybe you don't know, maybe I just think we are BFF's and you are filing a restraining order as we speak), anywho, I totally get this. I have a 7 lb. girl dog and I have totally raised her to be a cocky biotch. She busted the balls of the doberman next door yesterday.

Vanilla said...

I'm a guy and I don't have any girls, just 2 boys, so I don't have much in the way of input but I did want to be sure to come into your comments section and 'hoist my scrotum up the flagpole' because, holy crap Amy that was a magnificent phrase! Just awesome.

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

I have three girls, and I totally hear you. I even worry sometimes that my being a stay-at-home mom teaches them that that's what they are supposed to do. (which I'd be happy if they did, I just want them to really KNOW they could do something else, you know?)

And the middle name thing makes my ass twitch. HARD. It even super-irritates me on wedding announcements when it says that "Anna Louise" is marrying "Michael Adam Robertson" as if a half person (Anna Louise) is marrying a whole person (Michael Adam Robertson). Makes me want to stab someone.

Jo@Mylestones said...

You're hilarious and insane and of course, totally normal. I had a boy first too. Peace of cake. Then my daughter came along and while I obsessed at first, she put my fears to rest when (at 18 months) she started beating up on her big brother and playing (losing) games of chicken with the waves. She's my strong willed, fearless wild child. And now the only thing I worry about is how I'm going to survive her teen years.

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

Oh, and we gave our daughters middle names that reflect their female heritage -- my mom's first name, MIL's middle name, my great-gdma's first name. Kids can decide to use whatever name(s) they'd like to when they're old enough to decide that sort of thing.

Think I'll go sign everyone up for football today...

Mandi said...

I have 3 girls (5, 3, &1) and I think the same thing every day.

your not alone!

Jimmy said...

I am the father to 5 daughters and David's comment above is spot on. Education! (All my girls have middle names by the way.)

Lynda said...

If you're crazy, then I'm a raving lunatic. As my sweet daughter waited for the bus today for her first day of Kindergarten I had that conversation with her - "ya know, you can be anything you want to be. I'll always be proud of you". I felt so desperate to tell her all these things as if she were going away forever.

Amateur Steph said...

My vote is "normal". I have two little girls, 2 and 4 and every time we watch some Disney craptacular movie I lecture them about waiting around to be rescued and being stupid.
They love being princesses though and despite my 'tomboyishness' they are total girly girls. I'm thinking about getting some pictures of strong incredible women and hanging them up in their rooms. Any suggestions?

M.A. said...

Huh...I didn't know that girls sometimes weren't given a middle name for that reason - several of my mother's sisters don't have one and I never knew why. Interesting.

Miranda said...

I always thought it was totally cool when the gal kept her maiden name as her middle name. I wish I could have my maiden name as my middle name. {When I state my middle name, people say HUH? what's that? Ya, I know.} I love my last name because my brothers have it...I would still love to have that name connection...maybe I'll change my middle name back to my maiden name!

Jillybean said...

My 11 year old daughter has already decided that she wants to be a pediatric cardiologist.
I didn't have a middle name and I always wanted one.
My mom doesn't have a middle name and neither do any of my aunts. My daughter has a middle name, a really long one. Her whole name is 9 syllables long. She knows that she's really in trouble when I bother to use her full name, only I had to stop doing that becase I found out that she didn't like her middle name because the only time she heard it was when she was in trouble.

Hurricanehol said...

I think I peed a little laughing so hard to the "Care to explain yourself you chauvinistic bastard of a penis carrier?"" line.

Bloggin Betty said...

You are too freakin funny. I am back here snorting while my students are working. I'm getting funny looks. I have only had 1, and he was a boy, so I don't know about the girl-mama feelings!

Erin said...

First, totally normal. I only have a girl, but I constantly tell her things like this. However, I would do the same for a boy. There are no "boy" jobs or "girl" jobs. There is no "right" way to be. There is only being yourself. Nothing more.

Middle names are just cultural. If you were from some other country you'd have 20 of them. I would only be bothered by the reasoning for the absense. If that wasn't the reason, it wouldn't bother me.

My mom stayed at home, and I'm the high level in a man's job. My daughter's father is a stay at home dad. His family, quite traditional. That talk ended on her first birthday when grandpa mentioned getting her a kitchen so she could learn girl stuff, and daddy tried to pipe in with an agreement. My quick response, say it again Mr. Mom. Let's hear about gender roles. It has never been discussed again and I don't think anyone will ever try to influence her one way or the other. (but I really want her to be a super smart rocket scientist super model, just to prove that she can be both).

Anonymous said...

Amy...I had the pleasure of having three little girls before I had my boy. What you're feeling is totally normal.

It's really funny how girls can turn you inside-out. I might just blog about MY reaction to the news that my oldest was a wasn't pretty. LOL

Anyway, your daughter will be who she will be and won't be anything anyone can do about it! She gets 50% of her genes from you....she's gonna have one awesome personality!!!

Stephanie said...

you are normal.

you know what isn't normal? worrying about this kind of stuff WHEN YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE KIDS YET, OR ARE EVEN CLOSE TO GETTING PREGNANT.

i'm serious, i can't tell you how many times i've cried to my husband about how heartbroken i will be if my daughter ever rejects her uber-feminist ubringing.

at least she will always have a middle name.

Scrap Happy said...

I'm SO GLAD someone else feels this way. I do not have a middle name, and I refused to "keep" my maiden name as such when I married. Dropped it like a hot potato.

And of course, I gave both my girls middle names.

chattypatra said...

I am the ONLY one in my family who does not have a middle name. There was a huge fight between my siblings when my father called a family meeting to name me, and he just went ahead and registered me with my mother's first name. Since he hadn't discussed a middle name with Mom and he didn't want to make her angry by choosing the wrong one, he went ahead and left the middle name slot blank. It feels AWFUL.

Also, Heavenly Father is the one who is a real feminist, in the true and full meaning of the word. I'm SO glad! :)

blaine said...

My only suggestion is to make sure that whatever name you decide on that it is common enough to find on those souvenir mugs or license plates or other cheap memorabilia. It's a curse I have to live with every time we go on vacation.

Anonymous said...

Hey Amy...not that I have a ton of traffic, but i linked to you today! :)

Tooj said...

Girls scare the bejeezus out of me. I'm so thankful I have a boy stepson (of course a stepSON would be a boy...duh), and two boys of my own. And just so you know....I'm totally using this line on my husband sometime:

"chauvinistic bastard of a penis carrier"

And I might request he hoist his scrotum up a flagpole as well. I'll be sure to "link" to you in our conversation when these take place. Don't worry.

Found you through Catholic Lady. Happy Friday.

P.O.M. said...

You're far from normal, but that's why we luv ya!

Natalie said...

i love this. i had a middle name when i was born, and then when i got married i had two! i kept my maiden name as a middle name because it was too much for me to grasp, just losing a part of me like that, so i'm a two middle namer, which is a little complicated and makes it confusing when they ask for a middle initial on forms and things, and i'm all, but i have two and it's hard to pick which one to list, and then i worry about the consistency aspect going on there, but anyway my point is, this is exactly, EXACTLY how i feel about little girls regarding middle names. give them middle names! my mother in law did not have a middle name and as such her middle name once she was married was "smith" and i just think that's sad.

also you should know that i've been reading your blog for a while and i freaking LOVE you. thanks for existing and spewing your crazy brain all over the internet.

pam said...

okay, what is WITH the maiden name taking over the middle name? I hate that. They did that to me at BYU-Idaho--didn't even ask me, so instead of my real middle name, they put Pamela Vance Smart on my DIPLOMA. What kind of name is that?
oh, and btw. . . hilarious. I really liked the scrotum/flagpole comment. genius.
oh, and I have 3 girls and worry about their vulnerability/self-concept always.

pam said...

oh, and I just read a great book about raising girls called "Girls will be girls: raising confident and competent girls" by JoAnne Deak

Grandma said...

Not a good time to remind Jared that I don't have a middle name,huh? Lately,I think an adjective is good for a middle name.

Sue said...

What, we're supposed to TEACH them stuff now? GEEZ, Amy - WAY to pressure all the other parents out there. Why can't you just be like everyone else and let them learn all of that kind of stuff from TV?

GEEZ. Frickin' overachiever.

Stef said...

I have been reading your blog for a LONG time and have never wanted to comment so much as today. I TOTALLY agree. I have two girls and I tell them they can conquer the world everyday!

As for the middle name thing, I think its important for girls to have middle names. Case in point...I kept all three of my names when I got married and just added my hubby's name to the my initials spell out SMRF...that right...smurf. I am SO glad my parents gave me a middle name so I can tell that joke during awkward silent moments.

JAMIE said...

3 boys here, feeling grateful. :)