by Jenna McCarthy
I always wanted to have girls. Well, that’s not exactly true because for a long while there I didn’t really want kids at all. But once I decided to throw caution—and birth control—to the wind and discovered first-hand that morning sickness is a big fat lie (dude, that shit does not wear a watch), man did I want that fetus in my belly to have a va-jay-jay. And it wasn’t just because of the implausibility of the idea that I could grow something with a penis in there (although that certainly occurred to me), or my utter lack of knowledge about the care and feeding of that particular body part, at least in its pint-sizestages. Ahem. It was just that with the exception of some surprisingly decent carpentry skills I picked up from my builder-dad, I am probably the girliest girl you ever met. I love kittens and clothes and anything sparkly, I do not enjoy getting or being dirty
very much at all, and the half of my wardrobe that isn’t black or white is what some might call a sickening rainbow of pink.
Because I’m super lucky or maybe because someone put a hex-curse on me, I got my girl. Less than two years later, I got another one. Wait, what’s that saying again? Oh yeah. Be careful what you wish for.
My daughters are now 6 and 8, and while I wouldn’t trade them for world peace, toned thighs and a fleet of Range Rovers, let’s just say if raising daughters were a sport, it would make the triple-ironman look like a balloon toss. If it’s all about the fart game over at your house, here are some facts you may not know about living with fillies*:
Girls never stop talking. Like, ever. From the moment they wake up until the split-second they succumb to sleep, their little lips are flapping at mach speed. It takes them 30 minutes to summarize an 8-page book and twenty-six weeks to decide—a process that’s rendered out loud, of course—precisely whom to invite to their birthday parties. I’ve offered mine cash-money if they would please stop talking for five lousy minutes (most often this proposition is made in the car); they’ve never collected. Some girl-moms swear they can tune out the incessant chatter, but I don’t seem to have been born with that skill.
In a girl’s little world, there are no molehills. Until you’ve seen a seven-year-old go Linda Blair-ballistic because she forgot to bring home her library book or her BFF can’t come for a sleepover or—OMG the worst— the part in her hair feels weird and you somehow must make it stop without touching it or her or even looking in her direction, you can’t really grasp the enormity of this reality.
Girls are born hoarders. I’ve never seen the TV show that exploits people who stockpile obscene amounts of stuff, but I’m guessing that roughly 99 percent of the “stars” are female. Shells, buttons, beads, Mardi Gras necklaces, hair ties, erasers, (used) band-aids, those acorn-topper thingies, rocks that “look like a dragon!” (they look like rocks), nail polish peelings, dog hair they scraped off of the brush—you will find all of these and more in Ziploc bags scattered about your house, for the rest of ever. She’ll never play with or ask about a single one of them—until the day after you throw it away.
Girls are brutally, spectacularly honest. “Mommy, your hiney jiggles.” (Really? I had no idea. Thanks for the heads-up!) “Your boobies look like they are pointing to the floor.” (Whose fault is that, do you think?) “Seriously, were you ever cool?” (Kid, I invented cool! I just can’t tell you any of the details because there’s no way in hell you are going to do one-tenth of the astonishingly cool shit I’ve done. Bu trust me, I’m lucky to be alive.)
Girls come out of the womb with an opinion about everything. Nowhere will her opinions be more plentiful or vocal than when it comes to her wardrobe. Fortunately she can’t articulate this for the first year or two, but after this period passes you will look back on her childhood as one long, blurred battle over what she is or isn’t wearing. (And for the love of all that is holy, please understand that the fact that it’s clean, it matches, it doesn’t have any rips or stains, it fits properly and/or it is seasonally appropriate will matter to her about as much as a parking ticket matters to Oprah. The good news: Eventually you’ll stop caring.)
Girls are freakishly fickle. You’d think that just because she’s greedily devoured a cheese and pickle sandwich every day for the past three years that this would be a fine lunch-box choice. And it was—yesterday. Today it’s “disgusting” and she “never actually liked it anyway”. (WTF kid?) The big-ticket holiday item she begged for all year? Covered in dust by Valentine’s Day. Get used to not getting used to anything.
Girls are awesome anyway. Mine let me play with their hair and paint their tiny toenails and when we go shopping they fight over who gets to hang the clothes back on the hangers. (For real.) They think organizing their closets is a fun way to spend a rainy Saturday. We have fabulous dance parties and fancy tea parties and put on epic talent shows. One of them wore a dress on my birthday last year and neither of them has ever once suggested we play the fart game. My daughters ask thoughtful questions that force me to think about things—what we’d name our unicorn if we got one and what will happen to our friend’s dog after she dies and the rules to Crazy 8s—that I may never have pondered on my own. I never ever have to wonder how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking. They make me laugh, they make me crazy and God help me when the teen years hit.
*These facts technically are not facts at all because they are not even loosely based on scientific research but I’m calling them facts because in my home at least, they are true and real and absolute. So there.
Jenna McCarthy is the author of five books including the recently-released If It Was Easy They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Married (Berkley Books, October 4, 2011). (Please note it says the blah-blah-blah man you married, not the one she married. Her husband likes it when she points that out.) You can find out more about Jenna, her books and how she survived tanorexia on her website.