Once upon a time, in a world far, far away, mommies and daddies had to wait until their children were born to know if they were boys or girls. Ultrasound and other technologies had not yet opened a window on the womb and allowed us a little peek. In those days, the doctor or midwife would deliver the newborn child and proclaim, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Someone would be dispatched to announce the good news to the father, who waited patiently nearby, and he would soon be handing out cigars to celebrate, pink bands for a girl, blue for a boy. Times have certainly changed.
Today, most parents seem to prefer to learn the sex of their child before birth. It makes sense, but there are still some who prefer to wait for the dramatic moment of birth to hear the news. I was one who waited. I’m not sure why; I think I didn’t want to intrude! But now, I’m going to be a grandmother. And wouldn’t you know, my daughter is just like her mother and wants to wait. It’s killing me!
I’m in full grandma mode now, hitting all the baby shops when I’m not browsing online. And knitting! I guess it makes me feel useful since I’m a thousand miles away. But when it comes to shopping for baby’s layette, I find myself constrained by what is available for purchase. All the little sleepers and clothing sets are either frilly for girls or he-man for boys. It is really very hard to find simple items suitable for both boys and girls. This extends to just about every accessory as well.
All this time spent looking at baby things has led me to a timely observation. With all the so-called gender fluidity apparently going on there is hardly a thing out there for babies that is “gender neutral.” I think it reveals something about our human nature, something that is increasingly denied in “polite” circles. Our sexual identity, our gender, is fundamental to who we are and is, in fact, the very first thing we observe in one another.
Interestingly, in past generations, babies wore baby clothes. Boy or girl, a child under two was usually dressed in dainty clothing. If you have photos before the 1930’s, you may find baby boys with long curly hair and pretty white dresses. Today, other than a Christening gown, you’re not likely to see a baby boy in a dress!
What all this says about our society, I don’t know. I just find it curious that the “greatest generation” wore frilly dresses as infants but today’s snowflake generation is defined by their sex even before birth. I will puzzle about that… but in the meantime, I will be busy knitting little sweaters and booties in neutral shades, joyfully anticipating the arrival this autumn of my precious grandchild.