Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Balancing Act

The princesses have descended upon my household.

Since she was born, Preschooler was exposed to a wide variety of toys; dolls, tea sets, dress-up, but also cars, trucks, and trains. And she played pretty equally with all of them.

But lately, it’s princesses, princesses, princesses. All her dress-up involves princesses. All her dolls are princesses. All day she pretends she’s a princess (except for the days she pretends she’s an airplane). Even when she pretends to be a doctor, one of her favorite activities, she is now a princess doctor.

And her cars, trucks, and trains are starting to see less and less playtime.

I know that many mothers before me have struggled with, and blogged about, how to raise children while avoiding gender stereotypes, expectations, and restrictions. Well, now it’s my turn.

I don’t know how to respond to this new-found obsession with princesses. I want to raise my girls the way I was raised, to know that I do not have to be limited or defined by my gender.

At the same time, to be honest, all my favorite childhood activities were “girly” activities. I loved Barbies. I loved dresses. I declined opportunities to play soccer or softball in favor of dancing ballet. And I turned out ok.

Because even though Best Friend and I played Barbies every single day one memorable summer, the Barbies usually dressed in their ball gowns and then became astronauts who explored distant galaxies.

And when I struggled with math class, I knew that my struggles had nothing to do with being a girl.

And thanks to the efforts of countless women before me, I took for granted that my high school had both a boy's basketball team and a girl's basketball team.

Perhaps it’s all about balance. Because thousands of women before me fought for, marched for, strove for women's rights, I can offer my child a choice. Barbie dolls or basketballs - it’s up to her.