Toddlers tend to demand a lot of patience from their parents. What no one tells you is that you have to have patience for the friendly strangers too…

Every time I go out in public with my daughter, she attracts a lot of attention because, well… she’s a loud busy body. I am constantly running after her. I do more running than shopping. Everyone that encounters her will talk to her and just be generally friendly towards her. 

I must mention that in preparation to leave the house, I was always conscious of how I dressed her and the colour combination of her little outfits.

I know I may get criticism for feeling this way, but I made sure that if she was not wearing a dress, then there would be a pop of pink to make it clear that she is a girl.

It really bothered me when people referred to her as a boy. I know that it shouldn’t have bother me in this present-day of 2019 where gender roles and identities aren’t so rigid and there is a constant battle against gender-based stereotypes. However, my reasons had nothing to do with the historical complexities that exist between male and female. My child is only a year old, and I am enjoying dealing with her at this age, watching her discover herself as her personally also blossoms.

My issues were more about a mother that has a little girl and the little girl won’t let her mom make her look pretty and do things that moms do with their little ‘princesses’. Trivial right?

When I found out that I was having a baby girl, I wanted nothing to do with the colour pink. I found it nauseating and even asked my family members to gift gender-neutral clothing. “Why must everything associated with a baby girl be pink?’’, I asked with my big preggie nose in the air. My surprise baby shower colours where green and yellow because everyone got the memo about the colour pink and no one wanted to deal with my disdain!

A few months after she was born, it was a different story as I hunted for pink items in stores.

“What changed?”, you might ask. 

It turns out my daughter doesn’t want to look how I want her to look, with frilly hair bands. She also doesn’t have much hair to work with and she wouldn’t let me brush the very limited 4c textured hair strands she has on her head. On top of that, I couldn’t and still can’t pierce her ear lobes because she pulls them due to teething aches. However, when I’m in public with her, no one knows all of that. As I mentioned in the beginning, she attracts a lot of attention which comes with unnecessary comments like ‘little fella’ and relentless questions about ‘where her earrings are’. 

Given these experiences, I’ve had to learn to detach from other people’s comments and expectations of what a little one is supposed to look like.

She is not what I expected at all, she is so much better!

She is spontaneous, curious, courageous, social, energetic, expressive, the list goes on. She surprises and challenges me each day. She is the one aspect of my life I don’t slack on. She is the one thing I do my absolute best at, not only because I must, but because I want to.

She is my reason to keep going. I’ve realised that her identity does not lie in outward expressions of what society prescribes. Her not having a ponytail or earring and colourful headbands does not take away from the wonderful little girl she is. It does not take away her femininity.

So now, I don’t force anything she doesn’t want. I just make sure that she looks, happy, healthy, clean and loved. How anybody receives that is not my burden to carry. It is their perception to manage.

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