I feel like a jaded, cynical old lady who should be chain smoking on a patio somewhere with cats milling about as I shake my head in amusement and disgust while I play solitaire and ignore the results of my years of missed appointments for pedicures and root touchups. I’m 34 years old. I’m too young to be this jaded and cynical.
Picture me at an uber-fancy baby shower in Orange County. It’s at a country club (because having a baby shower at a home is so pedestrian) and I’m in a corner by myself eating cake pops (because cupcakes are so 2010). I’m one of the few ladies at the event who eats food, let alone carbs, so I basically can eat pops until I pop.
The mommy-to-be hasn’t announced the sex of her baby prior to the baby shower. We were all lured there, in part, by “the thrill of being the first to know.”
“Gather round, girls,” the event’s hostess shouts, using her perfectly ombre-manicured hands to form a peachy-pink megaphone. “It’s time for the big reveal. We’re going to announce the baby’s gender now!”
A sea of shellacked sorority sisters squeal and shuffle to their seats.
“You can’t announce the gender, you don’t know the gender yet, you won’t know that for years and years. You know the sex of the baby. You’re announcing that your baby either has a penis or a vagina. You have no idea what you could be in for as far as gender is concerned,” I think to myself as I stuff another cake pop into my mouth, stabbing the inside of mouth in the process. Karma.
I’m the lone brunette, the lone eater, standing in the corner, growing into a crusty old broad.
“IT’S A BOY!!!!!” the mom-to-be and hostess shout simultaneously as they open the lid of an enormous box and helium-filled blue balloons float towards the ceiling signaling the high hopes they have for their boy, who they assume will grow into a man and a lover of women.
“IT HAS A PENIS!!!!!!” I think to myself as I picture helium-filled, penis-shaped balloons filling the room and bonking the classy, hopeful women in their heads as they rise erectly to the rafters. I bet they haven’t even considered that it may be a boy on the outside who feels like a girl on the inside or a boy who is a lover of boys.
The blue balloons hang over the room decorated in yellow. I try not to look up.
My life used to be that simple. I used to think that a person’s sex and gender were one in the same. I know better now. Even growing up with a gay brother, a card-carrying member of the LGBTQ community, I didn’t fully comprehend the possible separation of sex and gender until C.J. came along and got all gender nonconforming on us. I’ve learned that you don’t always get what you expect when you’re expecting.
I try to adjust my attitude. I have to adjust my attitude. For the majority of my friends, if their baby is boy he will like boy toys, the color blue, sports and the such. I have to let them revel in their uneducated presumptions and be happy for them. A baby is something to be happy about. It’s part of my family’s process to not allow ourselves to get jaded and cynical. We have to celebrate and support every person’s individual journey. Sometimes you have to let go of your issues in order rejoice with and for someone else. Let go of your issues, grab a cake pop and watch out for penis-shaped balloons.
I thought of this post while shopping for a baby shower gift yesterday. The new parents requested that people bring books with a special note inside, rather than cards, so they can start a library for the baby. They are having a girl, and I admit that I was naturally drawn to Angelina Ballerina in the bookstore. But then I thought to myself, what if this little girl likes “boy things?” I would want her to know (someday) that whoever she turns out to be is fine by me. So we settled on a Dr. Seuss book of ABC’s, pretty much as gender neutral as you can get. So thanks for raising awareness on this — I like to think that my decision at the bookstore yesterday was slightly better informed, thanks to this blog entry.
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“You can’t announce the gender, you don’t know the gender yet, you won’t know that for years and years. You know the sex of the baby.”
Hahah, I ALWAYS think that when I see “Gender Announcement Idea!!!” on Pinterest.
Also, you might just be the coolest mom ever 🙂 If I had a kid, I would follow your example as far as gender-expression goes. Thank you so much for sharing, it’s a real pleasure!
Blame my poor grasp of the English language but instead of thinking ‘Baby-shower’ I thought ‘Baby shower-sex’!!!! I was a bit appalled!!! haha I love your blog. Kudos to you and your entire family for allowing CJ to find himself.
One question though. Given the amount of time you devote to CJ on this blog and how it all revolves around him (you refer to the rest of the family as CJs dad and CJs brother), how much of this permeates into your everyday life? In other words, is it possible that CJs brother might feel neglected or put aside? I mean, like he is just CJ’s brother? I’m just asking, I don’t mean anything by it.
Congratulations on your work!
Oh man, I can relate to your experience. I often describe my participation in events like this akin to Neo choosing the red pill in the Matrix. All of the heavily “shellacked” can never relate to what “the real world” is like once you have loved, known, understood and shared the life of a gender-non conformer or LGBTQ family member…and once, you know, you can NEVER go back. Eat their “pops”, keep your roots scandalously dark, and know that you embody enough compassion, wisdom and life experience to fill those events with much-needed light. I understand the feelings. I understand feeling jaded, after all, you “know”. Most of them never will and at times, that gets very hard to take. It is even overwhelming, at times, to “let go” of your issues….or in reality, your insight and knowledge, to rejoice with others; it is a bittersweet pain others do not understand.
where are all the new posts? :O
Love this blog! Nice to see someone being such a good parent. When I’m older and friends start to have children, I’ll make sure to buy them all gender neutral clothes, toys etc. for sure
I’m sure many have done it before because your blog is amazing, but I nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. You deserve it!
I just found out on Mothers day that I am pregnant with my first child. I am currently working on planning a baby shower (I know, it’s early, but I just want everything done and out of the way so I can focus on enjoying being pregnant haha), and everyone keeps bugging me about when I am going to announce if it’s a boy or girl (ugh), with clear hints that I should do so at the shower. I myself am pansexual, and know full well that my child’s gender will have nothing to do with what set of genitals it has. I have also decided, since I love surprises, that I don’t even want to know about those genitals until they come out of me! 🙂 This has garnered annoyance from my mom, who wants to know as soon as possible, and exasperation from some friends who keep saying “But how will you know what color stuff to buy???”. Whoever decided that certain colors belonged to certain sexes should be shot. Colors belong to everyone, and my child’s clothes and toys will be all the colors of the rainbow! I know that once Noodle is here, people will insist on buying “girl” or “boy” stuff, and that I can’t stop that from happening unless I never let people buy anything for my child. I will always have to make a clear effort to keep things mixed and even so that Noodle has a chance to play with whatever he/she/etc wants to. Thanks for this post, it made me laugh, and realize exactly what I’ve been dreading the most about this shower. However, I totally do love cake pops, and they will be at the shower haha.
Tara, if you have a boy, please leave his penis intact! Boys don’t need genital cutting any more than girls do.
You beat me to it. 🙂
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YES, THIS. Thank you for writing it with such succinct humour.
Haha, awesome! As me and my spouse begin to consider trying this whole pregnancy thing, I find myself thinking about this a lot. Will we find out the sex of our baby? I’m hoping not, I agree with Cody, it’s totally cheating. But will people be upset by this? Will we have to deal with 9 months of “Do I buy your baby a blue or pink teething ring?” or “What if I buy this really cute princess blanket and it turns out to be a boy?”
So, thank you for adding a lot of humor to what can be such an un-funny thing.
I love this post. I wish I lived near you so we could be crusty old ladies together (did that sound dirty??). 🙂
Every woman needs a friend with whom she can be snarky and bitchy without fear of judgment. I hope you have that and if not, find it soon!
I also think there’s a fair amount of hidden sexism here. I can’t help wondering: would they have made such a big deal over it if the baby had been a girl? After all, if you would be equally happy with either a girl or a boy, why would you make such a huge event out of finding out/revealing which it is?
This has always baffled me. They seem to react equally “surprised and elated” at it being either gender, so why the fuss?
Good! I’m not alone in my hatred for showers (the baby and wedding kind, anyway!). My mom organized tons of showers when I was a kid, so I’ve helped out at a lot of them from a young age.
I hate the awkwardness when no one wants to be the first to get food, and I’m like “Chocolate covered strawberries? Don’t mind if I do!” I hate the circle of chairs and passing around each gift feigning excitement over appliances. Of course I’m happy for the couple/mom-to-be, but couldn’t we do something fun instead, like go to Dave and Buster’s, or salsa night at a latin club, or even a paint-your-own-pottery place?
1. I’ve always thought checking before birth is cheating.
2. The whole blue/pink thing is so past it’s prime. As someone of the younger generation, I can only hope that all those hot-pink polo wearing bros I see will start disassociating colors with gender roles.
Jade-coloured giggles… great post
Genius, as always. Thank you!
Great post! It made me laugh out loud. 🙂
Thank you so much for this blog post. All of it, but especially the last paragraph!
I find myself way too often caught between the importance of sharing celebrations with family and friends and my commitment to not remain silent on other important issues. Some of the balancing is simple – regardless of the importance of the celebration I will not remain silent in the face of explicit bigotry. Others – like this one – are not so simple to balance. And, when I choose to let it pass and celebrate, I still always feel a bit like I’m peering in a window wishing I could join the party.
Thank you for encouraging me not to become jaded. As my nonconforming child is in high school, and for many reasons, not participating in so much of what high school offers, I’ve allowed myself to feel cut off from other parents. I need to find a way—or a place—to reconnect with other parents.
Hysterical post, but also very timely for me. I’m expecting a boy (penis?) in September, and while the sonogram picture that was printed out for me that said ‘Gender’ with an arrow pointing to his tiny baby penis WAS hilarious, I know full well that “gender” is something very different. Thanks to my husband and I being very gender-neutral with our now 6 year old daughter, I have boxes and boxes of baby clothes that she wore that the impending boy can wear too. I love that we never pushed anything on her (but she chose pink anyway, when she made her own mind up to it) and I LOVE that she is often the only girl at the children’s museum in the woodshop, hammering away wearing goggles. I love that she has steadfastly claimed since age 2 that she is going to be an archeologist and dig up artifacts and dinosaur bones. I can’t wait to see what the boy wants to do (and it can be anything he wants).
Your blog is pretty much my favorite thing in the world right now.
hahaha. This was a hilarious post! penis balloons. Snort. Makes me think about the controversy over baby Storm in Canada. Headlines decreed that his/her parents were raising him/her “genderless” when in fact they were not telling people the sex, ie, whether their baby had a penis or a vagina.
I’m seven months pregnant with a boy, and when we were finding out his sex, I made a conscious effort to call it that–not “finding out the baby’s gender.” It was something I had to train myself to say because it didn’t come naturally. My husband and I have also had conversations (thanks to your blog!) about the possibility of our son liking girl things or maybe even identifying as a girl. So before this baby is born, both of his parents are already on the same page that no matter how he identifies himself, he’ll be supported and loved! We don’t have many toys for the baby yet, but the very few things we do have include a baby work bench with a hammer and tools and three soft dolls. 🙂
…made me remember the Vday celebration at SDSU we happened upon between classes…we were married students, with a baby, and they tied a lovely condom balloon, must have been three feet long, to his stroller. He was FASCINATED…
I would so be the other mom eating cake pops with you and laughing at the penis shaped balloons! You are a great mom!
As if baby showers aren’t lame enough – all women, silly games, often without cocktails – now we are adding the “reveal”?? I’m going to be suddenly busy every time I get a baby shower invitation.
It is because of blogs such as this and novels such as Middlesex and in general, an openness in the media to discuss this topic that I actually did consider the implications of my baby having a penis vs. a vagina as “not being a sure thing”. 🙂
Yet, I still moved forward with the typical genderish types of activities all the while knowing that in the end, my children may come through on their own in a different direction (although, I did try to avoid blue and pink. Until my daughter firmly asserted herself in the Pink Camp. Ugh.)
My children are now 4.5yo and 6yo — I am still careful about pigeonholing them. Which is really hard to do in a society that insists we should.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
I felt like I was in my own head duringbaby showers, through my own pregnancy, and when looking at any ultrasound pic.
Anyway its nice to know other people have the same moments in their head. And eat cake pops while everyone else steadfastly ignores them
this is a very funny post–i can imagine the shower with all the blond harpies squealing! i think that cynical is a bit harsh though as a descriptor of your attitude–you are more aware. i notice the same expectations in my friends who are having kids, even the aware gay friendly ones! if i ever had children, part of the wonder would be seeing how they develop as a little individual, but for most people they are looking for a carbon copy of themselves. how boring! i love posts, and i admire you very much for the difference you are making with your children. and, i get the feeling that being in the corner with the cake pops is EXACTLY where you wanted to be, despite everything! those moms SO wanted to eat the cake pops! -tony
Oh, how I so very much wish that I was moving somewhere in SoCal, rather than OR . . . then again, I never know what will come after graduate school.
I too am the ‘old’ broad in the corner. I love the mental image I got with the sorority girls getting all excited.
Totally random fact, baby boys used to be dressed in pink.
and of course, blue, being the color of the Virgin Mary’s robes, was traditionally reserved for girls in countries with large catholic populations
I did not know that. Cool.
What a hilarious post! So glad they don’t have baby showers here in Spain (though the pops look yum). They are, however, mad keen on colour-coding. I have to confess I succumbed, mainly due to lack of other shades (we used lots of white), but also because they assume a baby without pierced ears is a boy, so pink tells them it isn’t without having to explain endlessly.
In some countries they still are. My DD was dressed all in pink when we lived in Germany, and I had a cashier ask me if it was a boy or a girl. She explained that it was normal to dress your boy in pink.
Wonderful post, even more insightful than usual and that’s going some. Through your efforts as well as others I do believe the concept of sex v gender is slowly sinking in, emphasis on the slow part, but I have seen change. Unfortunately it is sometimes like a lurch through the forest. Two steps forward, trip on a branch, climb that hill to fall into the creek and get washed downstream to a point not much more advanced than where you started from, yet not ad far back as you had been. Gosh, you’re nice people!
As a former event planner, I have to say I am not a big fan of unveiling the sex of a baby at baby showers and in such dramatic form. I love traditional type events and the idea that if you choose to know the sex beforehand, that is up to you. That said, the time is coming, I believe, when it will be ok to buy pink things for a baby boy and blue for baby girls (yep, at baby showers & for an unborn child).
PS. I love your blog and I especially love cake pops….xo
Loved the description of these over the top baby showers! They are in awful taste. Thanks for a post that made me smile.
love your inner monologue, thanks for the wisdom within the giggle 🙂
Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people think that sex and gender mean the same thing. More importantly, thank you for reminding me that I need to not be so uptight about that pet peeve…
Thank you for posting this. I’ve had a lot of similar thoughts lately, but of course voicing them to the people in question without prompting is just rude.
The sex of our impending child, coming in two months, will not be revealed to anyone but a select group of medical professionals and his/her parents. We wanted to know so to prepare for a religious celebration that actually relies on having a penis or not. Family seems to want to know so they can give the child a gender identity. Projecting gender expectations onto a fetus is just so weird to me – if it works for some families, God bless, but I appreciate your post and underlying thoughts. Just not our up of tea.
Tara, if you are talking about what I think you are, I truly hope you’ll reconsider. I understand that it is a religious thing, but please consider the fact that your child is not born with a religion anymore than it is born with a gender. A sacrifice to God does not count if it is not willingly given, and no 8 day old baby can willingly sacrifice anything. Please consider a Brit Shalom instead, and if your child decides to make that sacrifice later in life, wonderful. If the child decides not to, that will be their decision, something that you should let them have.
Rock on, CJ’s mom!
How coincidental to read this post today! Earlier this afternoon, I gave a talk to my daughter’s 2nd/3rd grade class about gender stereotypes. We were discussing how “sex” describes boy and girl but “gender” is a moving target that is different depending on how the individual feels as well as where you are in the world and what century. That’s why masculine Italian men wear leather purses, and 19th century children, boys and girls alike, wore white dresses and long hair until they were 6 or 7. There is a great photo of Franklin Roosevelt in 1884 at age 2 1/2 looking quite feminine, but alas, he was actually gender neutral for the time. (http://sotospeakjournal.org/2011/04/when-sisters-and-brothers-shared-clothes/)
By the way, for Raising My Rainbow readers looking for gender neutral baby shower gifts, please check out http://www.handsomeinpink.com. We have pink firetruck onesies (http://www.handsomeinpink.com/cgi-bin/hip/hipbft03.html) and purple power tool belt onesies (http://www.handsomeinpink.com/cgi-bin/hip/hipbtbp04.html) that are perfect for babies of all persuasions.
Absolutely true. Here, in Italy, men sometimes carry pursue and everybody dress in pink if they want to. Sometime you see men with a gown as well, but I fear dress and such are still off-limits.
Wich is a pity 😛
Yes, announcing that way the sex of your child is only stupid
In my BGLTQ and Transgender trainings I always discuss how a pronouncement from an ultrasound tech is no guarantee of anything and that the baby dept is THE most gendered part of our culture today. When people I know are expecting, I also point out that they shouldn’t make assumptions about the future gender identity or expression of their child. This goes over better than it used to. Many say they are prepared to follow the lead of the child. Some roll their eyes and are not appreciative of my wisdom.
I think the same is true with any expectations. Children come through us and are who they are…combinations of genetics and environmental influences, etc. I think any expectations can be harmful and it’s best to have the best thing any parent can have….love! Thanks for being a great example of that.
I feel very much like you in similar situations. I have one healthy, happy, drooly baby here on earth and one waiting for me in Heaven. As we celebrated at my first baby’s baby shower we had no idea the shit storm that was coming ahead of us. Now, I’m the cynical 28 year old snorting and rolling my eyes as moms-to-be buy more baby crap than an entire village of babies would ever need and decorate their nurseries until it’s nauseatingly perfect, all the while expecting to bring home that perfect baby who will be born healthy and fall in love with the opposite gender. Because to them, babies don’t die and boys grow up liking “boy” things.
Our stories are very different, but I can certainly relate. xo
Loss is so hard. After two losses earlier on, it took us awhile to get to the point where we decided to celebrate this little one with the hope that it will all work out. Once any innocence is gone, there is no turning back. I look at other moms and hope they never join this club and always remain innocent. I am sorry for your loss.
You owe me a keyboard again. I just spewed water everywhere. Penis balloons.
““IT HAS A PENIS!!!!!!” I think to myself as I picture helium-filled, penis-shaped balloons filling the room and bonking the classy, hopeful women in their heads as they rise erectly to the rafters.”
Laughed gales at this. That mental picture will follow me throughout the day. Cheers!
Thank you for continuing to share your story, so others can understand better. It doesn’t always come easily.