Whenever we went to church, my mother forced me into the most constricting and frilliest dresses imaginable. I felt like Bo-Peep.
My brothers would complain about their ties. Ties!
I would glare at them, and gesture at what had been foisted on me. They needed to be quiet. They didn’t know what suffering was.
I had to wear white stockings, shiny black shoes with buckles, and a big bow.
At church my mother would keep frowning at me and reminding me to smile and not look so sour. I’d walk around with an expression of “This sucks”.
I hated dresses. You couldn’t climb trees or do anything in a dress.
My mother made me wear them. We had a compromise, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I had to wear a dress to school. I hated Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those were also the mornings I had spelling tests. So extra reason to hate them.
I was the only girl in a family of brothers. I was the daughter my mother had been waiting for, and I would behave like a girl whether I liked it or not.
She would have bought me the whole Maybelline Collection if I’d wanted it. For Christmas and Birthdays she’d slip in jewelry, make-up, and girly stuff. I got a curling iron I never used and nail polish that collected dust.
Her crusade to feminize me was neverending. A fight my dad and brothers stayed out of, or my mother would have their heads. This didn’t concern them, she said. They were boys.
Maybe if any of my brothers had enjoyed such things it might have taken the heat off of me. However, they enjoyed hunting, fishing, football, and other such interests. Deep down I wasn’t so interested in those things, but I wanted to hang out with them.
I think I wanted to rebel against the lifestyle my mother pushed so hard on me.
My dad loved science. He had a chemistry kit as a child. Our book shelves were full of science books. So I loved science too. I looked up to him, followed him, and wanted to emulate him.
My dad didn’t have to wear dresses, so why did I?
Looking back, I think my mother just really wanted someone who she could share her interests with. She wanted a daughter who would go shopping with her, go to the salon, and gossip about this and that. She had missed out on having that with female friends, and hoped to get that experience with her daughter.
If she had not pushed it so strongly on it, I might have embraced it freely.
In the end, I learned to enjoy wearing dresses. Once I went to college and discovered boys and flirting, I donned all that stuff. I learned to embrace that side on my own.
Nowadays when I go home to Texas, I happily go with my mom to the salon. We eat out at cafes, I often treat her to her favorite sweets. It makes her really happy. At the root of it all she just wanted to have a daughter to go on mother-daughter dates with.
We were both blind to what the other really wanted.
She was afraid of me becoming too much like my brothers and never getting the mother-daughter experience. She saw how boyish I behaved and though, ‘Oh no! Not my only daughter! She’s supposed to be my girl!’
While I just thought she was some dictator forcing me into dresses and cosmetics when I wanted to be like the boys.
Hindsight is 20/20.
I still think she should not have forced it so strongly on me, but I realize now it did not come from a bad place. She just so badly wanted me to be “her” child who shared her interests and would go shopping with her and to salons.
Once I realized that’s all she wanted, we made our peace and I learned to enjoy going to salons and cafes with my mom.
All that fighting over nothing.
I’m still 60% tomboy, but I got a lot of girl in me. 😉