Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of different thoughts on gender identity where kids are concerned. While this topic is certainly nothing new (remember this story a few years back of the parents who didn’t tell anyone the sex of their baby for a while?) it’s recently become a hot topic with all the recent hype over Caitlin Jenner and Target’s removal of gender distinctions in their toy section. Being that I now have a young child, I really want to weigh in on this and share my thoughts. These thoughts are my personal opinion. It may not be for everyone, but it’s mine and I own it.
A little over a year ago, I became a mom. In one single moment, at 9:46pm, my entire perception of love was completely turned upside down. J wrapped his arms around me and whispered to me to open my eyes and when I did, I saw this beautiful little person open her eyes to the world for the first time ever and take her first breaths. Those first breaths of hers took my breath away and my heart is forever changed in the most beautiful way possible.
That day I discovered a love that is even deeper than I had ever experienced. For God, for giving us this tremendous blessing. For our extended family and their joy in our growing family. For Justin, my absolute partner and hero. And especially for A, my sweet baby.
My mind is consistently blown by the kind of love I feel for A. It’s not even something I can fully explain or adequately put into words. It has opened my heart and my mind and challenged my entire view of the world. I hate how this might sound to a person without children, but it really is not possible to understand until you have a child of your own. Sorry, but it’s true.
Now I know you’re probably sitting there like “Yes, Jess. We get it. You love your daughter. What does this have to do with kids and gender identity?” Bear with me. I’m getting there.
Someday, my daughter may want to dress in clothes that aren’t particularly feminine or cut her hair short. She may favor cars and tools over barbies and princesses. Maybe we’ll someday have a little boy who likes a certain color so much that he wants to wear that color painted on his nails. This little boy may want a doll to play with (and I’m not talking about GI Joe’s). He may even try on my heels in a way that one might “expect” their toddler daughter to put their sweet little feet into mommy’s heels for a photo op.
Guess what? I. Don’t. Care. Honestly, I don’t. Because, really. What does it matter? If a little boy wants a barbie doll to play with, is that really a problem? And by problem, I mean is it something will hurt or adversely effect others? No. It’s not. Does it actually have anything to do with anyone else’s life except the child’s (and maybe the parents who are buying the item- though the money was likely allocated toward a toy for that kid regardless of whether it’s a “boy” toy or a “girl” toy, so it’s kind of a non-issue in that regard).
The answer to these, for me, is no. If a child wanting to play with a toy that doesn’t fit into societies cookie-cutter view of gender-specific toys is the biggest problem or concern that you’re dealing with, I’d say you’ve got it pretty good! Unfortunately, there are a variety of evils in this world that make the idea of someone being concerned about if their kids toy is “gender appropriate” seem like child’s play (see what I did there?).
Maybe someone’s son learning to play gently with his baby doll or brush barbie’s hair will help him develop into a young man who will later be more sensitive and compassionate towards his eventual spouse. Maybe playing with tools will help my daughter develop confidence and interest in later learning how to change her own tire and fix that leaky faucet on her own.
But above all else, the fact remains, that I do and always will love my children much, much more than I care about which toy they choose to play with. More than what they feel comfortable wearing and who they eventually fall in love with (though the question of whether a person is straight or gay really isn’t relevant to what toys they choose to play with as kids- but either way, I would love them all the same).
As parents, we all have this blueprint in our minds of what we think our kid will be like, what their interests will be. It’s not necessarily realistic, but it’s only natural that we try to imagine our kids before we meet them. And if and when my kids don’t fit perfectly into this blueprint, which they probably won’t, that’s fine with me. As far as I’m concerned, love will always trump that blueprint. No matter what. I may not always agree with everything they do. They may not always take the path that I would have chosen for them.
But at the end of the day, I have faith that the morals and values that we are raising our kids with will be instilled within them and they will be good, kind people. Playing with things and expressing themselves in ways that don’t necessarily coincide with societies views of gender identity will not hold them back from being good, kind people with integrity. And that is what truly matters to me as their mom.
I will not be upset if and when my kids choose to express themselves in different ways. I will love them no matter what and accept them for the beautiful, unique people that they are. And as far as everyone making a huge thing out of kids and gender identity, I want my kids to know that it’s really not a big deal either way. Play with the toys you want and dress in a way that makes you comfortable. It really doesn’t matter what other people think because it doesn’t have anything to do with them. Be you. I will love you for you and the people who truly matter will also love you for you.