I originally read Cinderella Ate My Daughter (affliate link) because my husband didn’t want our little girl to watch princess movies. As a girl who grew up in the nineties and loves herself some Beauty and the Beast, I was not fully on board with this. I listened to what he had to say and then agreed to do some reading on the topic, come to my own conclusion, and revisit the discussion for a compromise.
It is a fascinating book and I could tell you all sorts of things about it but the thing that was the biggest take-away for me wasn’t the main themes of the book. It was how often I was subconsciously making choices for Scarlette based on gender. I would pick up something small that I thought she might like, a pack of stickers maybe. And they would be sparkly butterfly stickers because, I don’t know? She’s a girl? I mean, she had never shown any interest in butterflies.
(Also, I don’t recommend this because butterfly stickers are still stuck on various surfaces all around my house.)
And while I believe in celebrating the unique beauty of femininity and womanhood, I realized that I did not want to inadvertently mold my daughter based on our culture’s definition of girlhood. I took a step back from all of the unintentional leading and just focused on really observing.
It has been a huge blessing to me as a mother to allow Scarlette to make her own choices when it comes to toys and pretend play because they are never what I expect them to be.
I am constantly surprised and delighted by her and that makes being her mom even more fun.
(I know what you are thinking. You are thinking “Seriously, life with that kid can’t GET any more fun.)
She loves the color pink and the color yellow. She doesn’t like playing with dolls, unless they are Buzz Lightyear. She likes to pretend she is a super hero but she asks every day if we can go to ballet class and when we put on her tutu she exclaims “I SO BEAUTIFUL!” while twirling in front of the mirror and refuses to take it off for the rest of the day. She pretends to be Queen Elsa and then she commands me to dig her up some worms because she “weally wikes to bury dem in da dirt.”
If I hadn’t stepped back, we would have bins full of barbies and tiaras because that is what I had as a child and that is what I enjoyed as a kid and so I just assumed that she would as well. Instead I walk through the house every night and pick up pieces to rocketships and glittery headbands that are randomly discarded everywhere.
(Seriously, why is there a rocketship stuck in my blinds?)
She wanted to be Super Why for Halloween and everyone asked me if I meant she was going to be Wonder Red or Princess Pea. The honest truth is that before I read this book I probably would have persuaded her to choose one of the two because those were the girl costumes. Instead I cut out an elaborate felt mask and cape and then I cried when she saw herself in the mirror because her reaction was so joyous that I knew it was one of those motherhood moments that I would cherish for a lifetime.
I look at her running through the den pushing Buzz Lightyear in a pink baby stroller, wearing three necklaces, a Super Why shirt, polka dot rainboots and a cape and I am so glad that I didn’t infringe on this.
Obviously this is only a tiny portion of a great wealth of information on raising girls but I did really like the book (despite it’s somewhat strong agenda) and I am thankful to have recognized how much I was projecting my own interests onto my daughter while she was still young enough for me to make a course correction in my convictions.
And it turns out, she prefers sparkly stickers featuring frogs.
Which are now stuck to my desk drawer alongside the butterflies.
(In case you were wondering, we came to the conclusion that we would save the princess movies until she is older and we can have conversations about the themes in them with her. With the exception of Frozen because BEST PRINCESS NON-PRINCESS MOVIE EVER. Also, this isn’t commentary on anyone else’s parenting styles, just some running thoughts on what has surprised me about myself as a mom :))