I wasn’t one of those people who wanted to wait until the day my baby was born to find out the gender. So the day Lila was born was exhilarating–and exhausting–but the birth drama never included the doctor’s calling out, “It’s a Girl!” The delivering doctor didn’t need to, since we already knew. And since that time, I’ve made an effort to ensure everyone else knows, too.
Last spring, I invited pink and purple into our home in a big way. I know another mother who is glad she had a boy, so she doesn’t have to live amidst a pink explosion, but I rather like it.
While I am partial to blue for many things, I like dressing Lila in pink and purple, flowers, butterflies, and ruffles. I love how feminine she looks in her cute, tiny outfits. On most days, she looks more stylish and put together than I do.
The other obvious benefit of dressing Lila in such stereotypically feminine clothing is eliminating gender confusion. That’s become a pet peeve for me. I don’t like being asked about my son or gender neutral baby, so I do what I can to help strangers with strong visual cues. I understand that babies under a year old tend not to fully inhabit their gender yet, so clothing is key.
During a recent elevator ride, a man asked if “it” was a boy or a girl. I said Lila is a girl. It was confusing, he said, since she had on blue pants and a green polar fleece. True, I dressed her in a wider palette that day, but she was still wearing a pink floral hat and lounging amidst pink blankets in her stroller. Are there mothers who would really dress their sons in hats with large pink flowers? That seems cruel.
This conversation opener repeated itself with another man, during another elevator ride. This man’s wife chided him, exclaiming, “She’s obviously a girl. She’s wearing all pink!” I was glad she noticed. Really, how much more obvious can I make it that Lila is a she? She was literally wearing a pink outfit, pink socks, and pink sweater, tucked among her pink blankets. Having Lila hold an “I’m a girl” sign is the only thing I’m not doing, and even I think that seems over-the-top.
It is noteworthy that if strangers don’t ask neutrally, the default question is whether my baby is a boy? Is that a verbal tic, or do most people consider it preferable to have a son?
I also wonder why so many people refer to my baby as “it.” Granted, as a speechwriter, I am highly attuned to the precision of language. So, I notice things that would never trouble most other people. But do grown-ups ever think about how odd it sounds to refer to a little person as “it”? We would never speak like that about another adult, especially not in that person’s presence.
Lila is a miniature person. While she is still new here, she already has her preferences, favoring avocado, “Wheels on the Bus,” and her colorful Fisher-Price shapes-in-a-box. I am also certain that as she babbles in Lilese–having not yet mastered English–she is expressing her own thoughts and feelings.
For me, recognizing Lila’s gender is part of respecting her as a separate, unique individual. When she’s old enough to have fashion preferences and convey them to me, she may be a tomboy who dresses only in blue. That’s okay. But for now, we acknowledge her as our precious, spunky girl, and we appreciate when others do, too. Lila lends sparkle wherever she is, always looking glamorous with her huge grin and pretty in her pink and purple.