If I’ve learned anything about this mom thing it’s that you really can’t plan for it, and just when you think you have it down, your kids change again and it’s on to a new phase, chalk full of new joys and new challenges. And so, when it comes to being a feminist mom, I’m continuously met with situations that I didn’t plan for, left second guessing my responses and wishing I’d been more prepared.
As my children mature, so do the gender stereotypes they are exposed to. No longer relegated to baby clothes and toddler toys, gender stereotypes go far beyond color preference and interest. And, my sound bite response that girls and boys can be and do anything they want, isn’t enough. For example, my son recently started hating ‘Frozen’ and when asked why he couldn’t explain but based on the way he was saying it, I knew he knew he was supposed to hate it because he is a boy. I stood, frozen (pun intended), not knowing how to respond seeing as he was declaring this hatred in front of his little sister who only weeks earlier had been watching the movie right along side him.
In that case, I told him that it’s ok to like something even if other people don’t. I followed that with telling him that it’s also ok to change your mind about things, because if he truly no longer liked the movie, I wanted him to also know that was fine. But then I said that if he no longer liked the movie only because other kids don’t like the movie, well, that’s not ok. And so, there’s the truth… this feminist mom stumbled her way through, trying to address the first signs of prescribed masculinity while also trying to instill a sense of independence.
I didn’t anticipate how strong the outside influences of other children and the media would be. But I’m cautious not to counter that influence by telling my children how or what to think. I want them to be exposed to a variety of things and have access to information so they can formulate their own opinions, likes, and interests. It’s just so hard when the variety of things they are exposed to are laden with gendered stereotypes and norms.
I only hope that as I traverse motherhood I can continue to dialogue with my children, and that hopefully with time my messages will becomes less convoluted. I suppose, most importantly, I want to instill in my kids the ability to think for themselves. The truth of it is, I’m learning as I go because no women studies course could prepare me for feminist momming.