My daughter will be seen AND heard

I was recently trying to enjoy a nice lunch out with my husband and our daughter. What started as a lovely meal ended with me fuming, with my husband trying to calm me down.

Here’s why.

Here is my gorgeous lady. She’s a happy little soul, she’s usually pretty chilled, but she knows what she wants and how to get it. Know why? Because she’s a good communicator. She uses a mix of Makaton (baby sign), words and gestures to convey her wants and interests. She doesn’t shout very much as my husband and I are both at home with her, so she gets plenty of attention as soon as she needs. I’m confident in her communicative abilities, as are most people we meet. Until that fateful lunch date.

While we were waiting for our food, we noticed our daughter smiling and nodding at someone behind us. This isn’t too unusual, she tries to make friends with everyone she meets (including a few shop manikins). The vast majority of people make a few faces to her, give her a little wave, and then leave us alone. But not this time.

The first sign should have been when the man she had been smiling at came over to us to congratulate us on how cute our ‘son’ was. Never mind the fact that she was very obviously wearing a dress, and I’m sure half the restaurant had heard us saying ‘yes, good girl!’ when she had managed to sign the word ‘bird’ for the first time just minutes previously.

Funnily enough, I’m getting used to people mistaking her for a boy. It’s an easy mistake, her hair is only just starting to grow longer, but I usually politely correct, and there is no further issue. But for some reason, the fact that she was a GIRL meant that we had a further issue. Here’s how the conversation went:

ME: Oh, she’s actually a girl, but thank you. We think she’s very cute!

HIM: A girl?! Well you’ve done a fabulous job there then!

ME: What do you mean?

HIM: well, she’s barely saying a word! That means you’ve raised her right!

ME: Sorry? (half confused, half hoping this isn’t going where I think it’s going!)

HIM: All the girls nowadays are so loud! They’re talking all the time, making so much noise, having an opinion on everything. Not like the good old days, don’t you think?

ME: No, I’m afraid I don’t agree, and I doubt my husband would either. I’m sure your mother would be thrilled to know you think all women should be seen and not heard.

HIM: (smiling awkwardly and going a beautiful shade of white). Congratulations. (While walking away he forcefully pats my shoulder in some weird form of congratulations for having a quiet baby? And dislocates my shoulder due to my EDS.

I know what you’re thinking. That sounds scripted! Nobody would approach a stranger to say something like that! Well I promise you, it happened, and I was fuming. And you guessed it, I’ve got more than one issue with this encounter.

The phrase ‘seen and not heard’ originates from the 15th Century, so there’s no ‘I’m from another generation’ excuse for starters. Unless you’re 600+ years old, there’s no way you can get away with using that excuse.

Secondly, this mentality doesn’t just expect young children (or in this case, women) to be quiet, it denies them a voice completely. Why should she (or I) be expected to be quiet simply due to gender? For starters, to deny her a voice would be to deny her her freedom, the ability to share her ideas and creativity, and it reinforces the idea that she is only worthwhile when a man gives her permission to be. And I am NOT going to reinforce that.

IMAGINE praising a child for not speaking (or not being able to). Not everyone would agree with me, but I believe the only time a child should not be allowed to talk is….never. Children are naturally curious beings, how are they supposed to grow and develop if they can’t express their questions and frustrations?

So, I’m raising my daughter to be noisy. I’m raising her to express herself however she chooses, to be loving and creative and happy and free.

You know why? Because well-behaved women seldom make history.

Have you encountered a similar mindset? How did you react?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Dear Fellow Mama… We all NEED to let our hair down!

One thing I always feel really strongly about is when mums get criticised for going on a night out. Obviously, I’m not saying every week, but once in a while, I think it’s really important that mothers are given the opportunity to go out and let their hair down.

I recently got criticised for going out once/twice a month with friends, and my argument to this is I work full time (plus overtime), as well as having ‘mum duties’. I honestly believe Mums need a night out once every now and then for their wellness – they need that time to switch off and just have a night off.

I really feel for celebrities, stuck in the lime light, who get harshly judged for going on a night out when they do, because as if being a mum isn’t hard enough? God forbid they go out and let their hair down.

I definitely feel that over the years society has almost gone back in time when it comes to motherhood. There is this barbaric idea that we’re stay at home housewives… As if it’s 1950 again, as hard as it is to believe, guess what? Mums are perfectly capable of holding down a career, a home, a social life and raising children.

It’s no secret that I love a night out. I love my job, my friends and most importantly my son. Under no circumstances do I ever sacrifice time with Oliver for that, I work my social life around him. Of course, I link my social life with Oliver wherever I can. I have friends with children and friends without. It was only recently that I went to a garden party arranged through work and my friend Lucy and her fiancé Liam came… They were AMAZING with Oliver! Oliver loved wearing them out and I loved watching them entertain Oliver (side note: cannot wait for them to have a baby because after watching them with Oliver, it’s obvious they’re naturals). Plus there’s my friend Charlotte who recently came to the funfair with me and Oliver, and Oliver loves her to bits, not to mention my mummy friends such as the mummykind girls and Jacey who was even coming on days out with me and Oliver while heavily pregnant! Of course not forgetting Sarah, Oliver’s godmother, fellow mummykind girl and practically my life coach, who is getting mentioned here at her own request 😉

I love having two different groups of friends and being able to have the best of both worlds.

Anyway I’m straying from the topic, where was I? Yes, mums NEED time off. When I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis one thing my doctor said to me was, when do you get time to yourself? I sat and paused. “Well… When I’m asleep I guess,” and he stressed to me the importance of having time to myself.

Whenever I go out it’s with one of two groups of friends, and each have a different agendas!

Work friends/friends without children

Pros:

  1. Baby free
  2. Always about
  3. Know how to have a good time
Cons
  1. Sometimes cannot understand why I’m not always about
  2. Have a way better alcohol tolerance/stamina than me, leaving me to play catch up
  3. there is usually a drama on a night out
Mum friends
Pros:
  1. Rarely go out so appreciate a night out more
  2. Have the same alcohol tolerance so I’m not feeling like playing catch up
  3. Completely understand if I can’t come out
Cons:
  1. Rarely able to arrange a night we’re all free
  2. When we are all free we’re all too shattered
  3. Mum life – need I say anymore???
So to any mum reading this, sit and ask yourself when was the last time you let your hair down and just had a night off from it all? If it was longer than 3 months then you’re 100% due a good night out with your mates.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…