I was born in the last month of the 1960’s and went through little-girlhood in the 70’s, when gender stereotyping was so much the norm that the term “gender stereotyping” didn’t even exist. Little boys played with guns (yes, they were even allowed to take them to school without being branded as mini-terrorists), and little girls played with dolls.
I think my mother was quite concerned when I didn’t turn out to be a typical girl. More often than not, I abandoned my dolls to play “cops and robbers” with my brother and his friends, and when my parents enrolled me in ballet classes, I was without any doubt the scruffiest member of the class. When I was little, my mother bemoaned the fact that I didn’t play with dolls like other little girls. As I grew older, she was concerned that I wasn’t ladylike or feminine enough.
I didn’t want to be feminine. Being feminine seemed too much like hard work. I’d have to faff around with my hair, worry about my clothes and my nails, and spend hours trying to get my makeup just so. Don’t get me wrong – I liked to dress up from time to time, but I wanted to save it for special occasions, not everyday living.
All of this added up to the idea that I was probably not going to grow up to be marriage material. And if I couldn’t even keep a doll alive, what were my chances of being able to raise an actual human baby?
Fast forward to today… that tomboyish little girl from long ago is now a middle-aged woman who is Mom to two beautiful children. In my eleven years as a parent, I have learned that I possess some previously hidden talents and skills. Like these ones:
1. Contrary to prior beliefs, I actually do have a mother’s instinct. I used to think that if I ever had kids, I would not survive without the aid of a million parenting books. To my surprise, I have been able to muddle through based on my gut feel and a hefty dose of common sense.
2. Although I do occasionally lose it, I have far greater reserves of patience than I ever thought would be possible.
3. I can survive on very little sleep.
4. I have the ability to completely tune out the constant talking of another human being, while giving the talker the impression that I’m listening intently.
5. I can accomplish long lists of tasks in very little time.
6. I am good in emergencies. Like one kid hitting the other kid on the head with a gardening tool, or someone trying to flush Bob The Builder down the toilet.
7. I am capable of organizing and hosting successful kids’ birthday parties without going completely insane. I do tend to need a good shot of wine afterwards, though.
8. While I regularly do without sweet treats so that the rest of my family can have some, I am not above occasionally hiding chocolate so that I can have it myself.
9. I’m brilliant at multi-tasking. I can cook dinner, help a kid with homework and conduct a telephone meeting with a client all at the same time.
10. I am a lot more creative in the kitchen than I ever gave myself credit for. If I lack both ingredients and the will to go to the grocery store, I’ll still be able to get something resembling a full meal onto the table. I’ll never be Gordon Ramsay, but at least no-one will die of food poisoning.
What hidden talents have you discovered since you became a parent?
This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit: Peter Becker. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.