My Mother Wanted A Girl, Not A Tomboy

girl wearing blue long sleeved shirt and yellow skirt walking on pathway

Photo by Leah Kelley on

“I won’t!” I declared, stamping a foot.

“You will!” my mother replied, foisting her latest frilly monstrosity on me.

“It’s yellow!”

“It’s cute!”

“I hate dresses!”

“Stop being so pig-headed.”

“I am not!” I balled my hands into fists and stamped my feet more. “I don’t want to wear dresses!”

“You’re a girl. And you will wear one.”

This was just another Sunday morning where my mother decided the whole family would go to church. That meant I wore ribbon-covered dresses, shiny black shoes, and white stockings with pink bows. The ladies at church would fawn over me, calling me “adorable” and pinch my cheeks.

I seethed.

I glared at my brothers who complained about their ties. Ties! As if that could compare to my humiliation. In the car I sat with my arms crossed while my mother continued to tell me to smile and stop looking so sour.

I hated dresses, but most of all I hated being a girl.

boy wearing gray hoodie

Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on

Born into a family of boys, with a father I adored, I found myself wishing I was one of the boys. I preferred pants and printed T-shirts. I followed my brothers and dad everywhere, imitating what they did. I was not the daughter my mother wanted.

My mother was also born into a large family of boys. She had no sisters. She grew up on a farm and worked alongside her brothers, doing more than their share of the work. I think she never got to be feminine growing up, except on Sundays. Since she had few female friends, she longed to enjoy a daughter. She wanted me to have the childhood she never had, but always wanted.

When I was born, she was happy. I was the daughter she had been waiting for and I would behave like a lady whether I liked it or not.

On Christmas and birthdays I often got dolls and hair ribbons. As I grew older, it became more sophisticated, transitioning into make-up, jewelry, and a curling iron I never used.

My dad stayed out of the fight, not wanting to intervene in a war between mother and daughter.

I think my mother wanted me to be her child. She wanted a daughter who shared her interests, enjoyed shopping with her, and a little gossip. In her mind it was hard to understand my resistance to these things.

I didn’t understand the difference between boys and girls in those days. I didn’t see why I had to wear a dress and my brothers didn’t. It hardly seemed fair. Only after puberty hit did I start to understand how make-up and jewelry were used.

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.

art backlit dark dawn

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on

2 thoughts on “My Mother Wanted A Girl, Not A Tomboy

  1. That’s sweet that it really just came from a good place, and that you now can enjoy your girly time together. My Mum used to love hats and she would often force me to wear one in family photos! I hated it so I would not smile and ruin the photo. It seems so silly now of course! I’ve a friend who told me that her mum was a tomboy and was forced to wear dresses growing up by her mother and she hated it so that when she had her own daughter (my friend) she would dress her in more boyish stuff but my friend said she hated it as really wanted to be girly and wear dresses! I guess the mother-daughter relationship is complex.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely true. I think if my mom had done the opposite and tried to force me in boy clothes like your friend, I would have been the girliest girl there ever was. 😀

      The lesson for moms and futures moms is not to force what they want on their daughters. Or (if they want the opposite result) then force it.

      If they want their daughter to be tomboy, push dresses on her.

      If they want her girly, push boy clothes.

      Good ole’ daughter rebellion. “You can’t tell me what to do, mom!”

      The hat thing sounds so cute. I imagine your expression was a lot like mine when I had to wear those awful frilly dresses to church.

      Will we ever learn? ^^

      Liked by 1 person

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