Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mama Don't Raise no Sissies

Celebrate with me, friends. My daughter has just completed her first arachnid assassination.

Just now, above the whir of my sewing machine, I heard Livie call from the top of the stairs, "Mom, I just killed a little red spider! It was in my room!"

"Where is it now, Livie?"

With glee: "It's in a tissue! In my hand!"

This is an extremely proud moment for me. Until recently, Liv hasn't been a particularly brave child. In fact, only a couple of months ago, a spider sighting would have aroused dead-waking shrieks from my Second Born.

When I found out I was having a second daughter, one of my (many) mottos became, "Mama don't raise no sissies." I have a theory that parents who have only one gender offspring, unless extremely conscious, begin to harbor resentment against children the opposite sex of their kids. If you have only girls, boys can start to look like a bunch of mannerless savages. If you have only boys, little girls may seem prissy and far too prone to tears. Meanwhile, the kids' natural gender tendencies are not tempered by the influence of the opposite sex sibling.

I have two little brothers, which I believe is one of the reasons I know how to bait a fishhook and cast a line; catch a wave; pick up a crab without getting pinched; subdue a lizard by rubbing its belly; and do all my own bug and spider killing. Last year, I crushed five black widows, and swatted a wasp bare-handed out of my best friend's car where her son was strapped into the car seat. I can also use a power drill (sort of) and I don't mind getting muddy.

So, being extremely conscious, if I do say so myself, I try to temper the imbalance of estrogen in our house by encouraging my girls to be tough cookies whenever possible. The red spider who just went down in my three year old's bedroom is proof that some of my modeling is paying off.

It's Mother's Day this week, and so I'm thinking lots about motherhood and all of its meanings. I'm pondering what kind of influence I want to have over my kids and what the best way to achieve that influence is. Tomorrow's blog is half-written, and I don't actually come out looking so good in it, so I just have to take a moment and tout a few of my accomplishments: skills my daughters have mastered on both sides of traditional gender lines, thanks to me, their Mom.

1. Sophia knows how to properly load a sewing machine and can define "seam allowance."
2. Both girls can roll out cookies and cut out shapes efficiently without wasting dough.
3. My daughters are not afraid of snails, most non-flying bugs, dogs, rodents, or reptiles.
4. Both girls know how to properly apply hair conditioner.
5. Sophia can do a mean cannonball in the pool.
6. Livie knows how to wash her own fruit and doll out appropriate portions of crackers for snacks, neatly putting the bag back in the pantry when finished.

Okay, so they aren't major moral accomplishments, but they are valuable life skills. And now, Liv won't have to depend on any man to crush spiders for her. Happy Mother's Day to me.

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