The frustration at attempting to find gender neutral clothes because we did not want to know the sex of our unborn child was unbelievable! There was, and still is, white aplenty; walk into any store and the newborn section is awash in swathes of pink on one side and blue on the other. Personally, I am not a fan of either shade so the gender neutral colours that you are left with are white, cream or yellow. This colour palette is not vibrant nor fun for a child of any age is it? Colour choices get marginally better as they grow past the newborn baby stage but even then the pink for girls and blue for boys is enough to make me want to throw myself on the ground and throw a toddler tantrum. We have a son and no, I do not want to be limited to dressing him in various shades of blue, green, brown and grey. Do I get much of a choice? No.
And toys? Don't even get me started. A walk around a toy store is just as disappointing - from a female perspective, why are all the dolls, prams, kitchen and household type toys aimed towards little girls? I, for one, can honestly say that as a child I was not interested in dolls other than to see how easily said dolls body parts would come apart. Sheesh, I spend sufficient time as an adult carrying out the role of homemaker to make me actually want to get my son his very own household type toys so that he does not fall into that stereotypical trap of being useless on the housekeeping front. As it stands, it will be an absolute miracle if I do not buy him a mini ironing board, vacuum cleaner etc so that he can play house with me.
This made me think about my role in being a parental stereotype. Am I? My mother raised all her daughters to be intelligent, strong and fiercely independent women. She was the major bread winner in our home and my father was the male chauvinist stereotype who lifted not a finger because it was deemed to be out of his remit. Has this experience altered my views on what my role should be? I look at myself and question all the things that I do day to day. What message am I/we sending our son?
I am adamant that by the time he leaves home he will be fully capable of looking after himself - a long time away it may seem but I like to be prepared. It makes me cringe when I hear about grown men who cannot iron a shirt or know how to boil an egg - I'm sorry but there's doing everything for your children and then there's crippling them by not giving them life skills. It is even worse than actually being able to look after yourself but choosing to sit on your laurels. Only just mind, but that's my opinion!
It is not only the practical skills that I want my son to learn. I also want him to have good emotional intelligence - none of this "Big boys don't cry". I want him to be able and feel free to express and deal with his emotions and feelings whatever they may be.
How much will society's expectation of what a man should be play? Am I looking to go against the very nature of being a boy? Does anyone have the answer?