A couple of months ago a fellow Toastmaster asked me an interesting question. She asked me where I got my sense of humour from, my mother or father? Without hesitation I answered: mom. That surprised her. Everyone else she had asked had all answered with their fathers. I was the only one that answered differently.

I thought my answer would be normal; throughout much of my life my father has spent long hours at work supporting his family. The one parent I spent most of my time with, by default, was my mother. Of course I would learn and absorb her sense of humour.

Women’s International month has come and gone (I believe Canada has October as their Women’s month) but my mind keeps drifting back to this topic mostly because of this wonderful post by chelsea avery, and another thing the fellow Toastmaster told me: “When I was growing up, mothers of my peers would often tell their daughters, ‘if you want to get a boyfriend, you can’t be funny.'”

With that one line, I realized how thankful I am. I never heard that line from my parents, but they constantly told me, “You better get the best education you can, a steady career, and be able to stand on your own. You can luck out in life and find the perfect guy for you, but a terrible accident can happen and you’ll be on your own. If that ever happens, you need to be able to stand strong, even more so if you are a widow with young children.”

My mother has passed on countless wisdom over the years. I should simply be myself if I ever wanted to find love. I should not be obsessed over fashion but rather over dressing appropriately for the occasion. And for goodness sake, I should really incorporate more than just black, grey and blue into my wardrobe! (Still working on that one).

Some days I am still puzzled when I walk into the glass walls that define genders. I distinctly remembering hearing a family friend express concern over a mutual friends’ daughter: the individual in question worried the girl may grow up to have “gender confusion” because her parent’s didn’t help her figure out the confusing world that is makeup and girls’ fashions.

For the record, that “daughter” was not me, but those same words could have been applied to myself. I hardly wear makeup. I’ve had just as much fun playing with Lego and Hot Wheels racing cars as I’ve had with Barbie Dolls. In my childhood you would have had to pay me to wear a dress, and most shocking of all, I am not confused about my gender. I am a girl, I like who I am, and I don’t feel the least bit confused.

I popped open the hood all by myself. In case you are wondering, the picture also shows coolant leaking.

I popped open the hood all by myself. In case you are wondering, the picture also shows coolant leaking.

I’ve grown up to be…me. I only wear makeup when going to work, I’m the most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, and there have been many a time when I have had bed hair and pj’s on from Saturday morning until Monday morning. I have no problems burping in public (I always say “excuse me” afterwards) and I was surprised the other day when my co-worker’s eyes grew to the size of saucers when I told her how I had popped open the hood of  my car.

“You popped open the hood of your car?!”
“Er, yes. My car was making unusual gurgling noises after I turned off the ignition, so I wanted to find out what it was.”
“Oh, wow…”
(Judging by her reaction you think I would have just told her I successfully scaled Mt. Everest.)

Somehow, I want to tell girls out there that it is okay. You don’t have to religiously follow whatever you see on magazine covers. Don’t be swayed if you see people’s faces wrinkle in confusion when you tell them you prefer Hot Wheels over Barbies. Don’t listen to them when they say “That is what girls should do.” No. Just be a good person. Be the best you can be.

It’s late and all my coherent, grammatically correct thoughts have flown out the window. Dang.


2 thoughts on “Being…Me

  1. vivien. i LOVE this post! love it and i can’t believe someone said ‘if you want a boyfriend-you can’t be funny.’ that is absolutely absurd and we obviously know this to be false. how lucky are we to have grown up with amazing mothers who’ve helped shape us to be strong, independent and resourceful women. i do have to admit that although i can pop open the hood of my car-i wouldn’t know where to go from there except to check the oil so i am impressed by your knowledge there.

    i really love your last paragraph about telling girls not to be swayed by media or think they have to only play with certain things or look a particular way. i have made it a point when i interact with young girls and children to be sure to compliment not just their cute outfit but to pick up on other characteristics and let them know i think they are sooo smart and capable too! thanks for writing this!

    • Thank you very much chelsea! And truth be told, I can pop open the hood of my car, and know how to do the basic stuff like check engine oil, replace windshield wiper fluid, headlights, etc. That’s about it; nothing impressive really. I was just surprised that my co-worker was surprised I could open the hood of a car. I was thinking it’s not that hard…just find the lever and pull…

      I admire what you’re doing now in terms of making sure to compliment girls on characteristics besides looks. That is so amazing!

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