She is not my son

I swore I didn’t care, wouldn’t flinch, would be cool if people thought my daughter was a boy. I believed that I could stand outside the ridiculous system that genders babies without temptation to join in.

In this spirit, I welcomed a load of blues and pretty boyish clothes from my cousin-in-law who had a son last year. And I dress Talitha in them. I love how she looks in blue. I wash and hang her little blue baby gros with affection and admire the way the shades fall on her skin.

Then it started. The compliments about my son. Possessed by something more girly than I, I got me to the next NCT nearly new sale and bought all things pink and floral. It was a strange moment.

And of course, people still assume she’s a boy. Even in a dress.

But babies don’t really have gender do they? I mean, they have sexes but you’d only know that in a nappy change. When I think of Talitha, I think of my baby, not my little girl, particularly.

It reminds me a bit of a book we borrowed from the library when I was little, about how you could tell if someone was male or female and the conclusion was that you couldn’t.

So, my own must-get-pink-now has surprised me. It feels overpowering. Like I’m desperately shouting a gender statement over her life. There must be another way.

When Natureshop sent me this kimono bodysuit, I was struck by how effortlessly feminine it was yet how easily unisex. It’s an article of clothing that isn’t just cute. Those squiggles are genuinely pretty, carrying all the attraction of a story. I feel like I’m inside someone’s fictive imagination, seeing Talitha in this. They also sent this sleeping bag which could definitely go boy or girl.

This is how she feels:

“All the poppers and wraparound stuff mean you don’t have to fit my head through that silly neck hole thing and make me feel temporarily blind. The world WILL end if I miss anything. But they’re a few more bits to do up and it’s taking longer than I’d like.”

“Ok, I’m in this, it doesn’t scream boy, it’s all organic, fair-traded and what not, which I know you like. Can we move on to the next thing, PLEASE?!”

“Now that I’ve got the yummy yummy nummy nummy going in my tummy (not that Mummy ever uses this ridiculous phrase) I notice it’s unbelievably soft. I think I’ll snooze.”

“Well, this is unnecessary but if it’s the only way you’ll let me sleep in the bed with you, so be it. At least it’s soft, cool and nappy-checking-ready.”

This is not a paid post but Natureshop did send me an organic fairtraded bodysuit and sleeping bag to sample. Obviously, I’m not anything if not honest.

And yes, Hero the cat may well end up in all my product reviews.

[she/her] • writer • unschooler • team Soul Farm • Revillaging podcast • breastfeeding counsellor • Trinidadian in Cornwall

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  • I can’t believe this happened to you, too. When we took Amy for her first set of jabs (dressed entirely in pink), a man in the waiting room complimented me on my handsome little boy. I couldn’t believe how angry that made me. So ridiculous but I didn’t like it at all…

    P.S.: Talitha looks gorgeous in her little Kimono x

  • She looks yummy, bless her. She doesn’t look like a boy to me, but if i didn’t know i’d go the ‘What a beautiful… you have’ so as not to offend the mother, aha!! 🙂

  • Heya,

    My mum used to dress me in pink dresses and still got asked ‘What’s his name?’ She got so fed up of explaining I was a girl that she just used to say: ‘Humphrey.’ No one ever asked anything else with a name like that and it was a lot less bother. 🙂

    • p.s. the bit after your name in your replies still says your an expectant mother which I’m presuming is no longer the case… Unless you got knocked up again fast. 😉

      p.p.s. love the blog

      • Your clever mother. I may start doing that. Yeah, I’ve been rubbish at changing that on things – what with a little person sucking out my life force. But the very idea of getting pregnant again any time soon…why would you even joke about such a thing?! Thanks, hon. x

  • I’m guessing you already heard about the Canadian couple who are keeping their baby’s gender a secret, so it can develop its own gender identity?? We were discussing this in class, and my year 11 students were adamant that you can “just tell it’s a boy”…. This got me thinking about this whole gender thing and how wrapped up it is in societal/cultural expectations. Not that I would advocate something as radical as what Storm’s parents are doing!! Not even the grandparents have been informed of the child’s sex, for goodness sake!!

    It all seems a bit extreme, but then again we have university entrance forms where kids don’t have to indicate their gender anymore, and parents who say they purposely gave their kids gender-neutral names (Alex, Sam, Jamie) and I do kind of get that…. It’s funny how our brains seem to have a need to ‘sort’ things into male and female – I feel a kind of conscious shift in my head when I realise the baby I thought was a boy is in fact a girl (and vice versa). Does that make me gender-biased???

    Of my own boys, David, in particular, was often mistaken for a girl – presumably because he was so darn cute – and what does THAT say of society’s attitude towards women, innocent as it may seem?

    • Yes I thought about bringing them into the post but there you go. Odd but I kind of understand the principle. I can see David being taken for a girl. I remember how pretty he was! It’s so hard not to gender them subconsciously though.

  • Gorgeous! I love the “unisex” clothes. We bought a ton of yellow and cream babygrows etc before F was born because we didn’t know what she was (I mean boy or girl – clearly we knew she was a baby) and everyone always assumed she was a boy. Possibly because she had a hair-do like Terry Nutkins. But now, a year on, she’s started alarmingly pointing to pink clothes and waving at herself in the mirror. She is such a girl. Don’t know whether to be proud or disappointed!

    I love the photos – making me more than a little broody.

    • It’s taken me a while to say but I just love seeing a baby in yellow. I don’t know why we haven’t tried that on Talitha yet. It’s funny that they thought Frog was a boy because even from her newborn pics, she looks so feminine.

  • Gorgeous kimono and even more gorgeous little lady.  I agree with your point on the gender….now  I see the girl in my LLC vivdly coming out but this wasn’t the case when she was a small baby.  And as I dressed her in many colors, we often got the boy comment!

  • Awww congrats on the birth of your daughter. Love the look of your blog and entries I’ve read so far. I’m your newest follower, via Brit Mums Network, Expat Mums group. I look forward to reading more. I’m a Trini living in Surrey and first time mum. My son, Angelo  is now 9mths old. Love the lil kimono outfit, looks so cosy :0).

    • Ah another “displaced” Trini. Nice to meet you. Glad you enjoy the blog. I’ll head on over to yours via Brit Mums. Hope you’re enjoying your little boy. Nine months feels so far away but it really isn’t!

  • Such a little cutie! You know, I think people just say whatever comes to mind without taking any time to actually look at the baby. My little boy has always looked like a boy and been dressed boyish clothes but has been called a “pretty girl” loads of times. He is almost 2 now and never had his hair cut so its shoulder length but he looks like a boy and he still gets called a girl quite often.

    • I think everyone has an idea in their mind of what gender babies come in. Admittedly, I always think of babies as girls now because mine is a girl. I bet your son won’t be too impressed later on if you tell him he kept getting taken for a girl!