For Trophy Wife’s Katy Otto, Motherhood Inspires New Creative Endeavors — and an Appreciation for Free Time

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

As any new parent will tell you, having a baby shifts your world in unimaginable ways.

Yet there are some new moms, between diapers and deadlines and sleepless nights, who seem truly unstoppable in continuing their life’s journey, babe on their hip, embracing motherhood while strengthening their purpose, motivated to find new meaning in their life, work, and service.

Katy Otto is one of these women.

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Katy Otto with her son David, now 1.

When Otto, the drummer and singer of Trophy Wife, the band she shares with co-collaborator/musician friend Diane Foglizzo, isn’t busy raising her one-year-old son David with her partner, she’s busy creating art and continuing her activism for numerous issues — such as LGBT rights, gender equality, and a focus on parenting that is less about what you have and more about what you do and how you choose to live.

We interviewed Otto recently to learn more about her quest to balance working (at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania!), music (she also has her own label, Exotic Fever), and motherhood.

Check out our full Q&A  — especially if you’re a rocker mom looking for some good, gritty inspiration on getting your groove back.

Rockmommy: You’ve been a mom for a little more than a year and recently you played your first show in a while. What was the experience like?

Katy Otto: The first show I played post-birth was with my band Trophy Wife in Durham, N.C., at the Pinhook on December 11. My son David was just over six months old. The show was a bit of a drive from where my band lives in Philly, so we took David with us and dropped him off on the way at my parents’ house in Bowie, Maryland. He stayed with my folks overnight for the evening of the show.

The Pinhook was celebrating its seventh anniversary. The space is a queer punk club in the south, and it means a great deal to our band. We were honored that they invited us to play, and while we had thought about waiting a bit more to get out and play a show, this seemed like the right time to do it. I was still nursing at the time, so I pumped in the club (with a cover on) basically just in the middle of the room. It was pretty intense but felt like one of the most punk things I’ve ever done, actually. The sound guy looked a little surprised but rolled with it. Everyone was very accommodating — I stored my milk under the bar by a keg.

The show itself was incredible. We were overwhelmed by the amount of support people in Durham showed us, some even knowing our lyrics. I think it had been the longest stretch in my life I had gone not playing music in front of people since I started as a teenager. I was very nervous, but once our set started, that all evaporated. I felt very whole and like myself being able to be in my element like that, particularly with my bandmate Diane.

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Katy and David

Rockmommy: Are you still creating new music with Trophy Wife, and Diane Foglizzo?

Katy Otto: Yup! Diane and I have written four songs since our last album: two while I was pregnant and two since David’s birth. We’ve been playing out and even traveling here and there for shows. It’s been great. I’ve also been grateful for the support of my partner, family, and friends in helping to provide childcare so I can rehearse and play out. I also play in a four-piece band in Philly called Callowhill that is finalizing songs for our first full length. We have a seven inch/digital EP out.

Rockmommy: Do you think it is more challenging to keep up with the Philly rock scene you were an active participant in now that you are a parent?

Katy Otto: I am not able to go out to shows I am not playing as much, but I still feel very connected to Philly’s underground music community. I moved to Philly six years ago after living in the D.C. metro area my whole life. I am so glad I made that decision. Philadelphia is extraordinary in terms of the music, art, and activism people are involved in. I also know a number of other creative parents and recently did a series of interviews while I was on maternity leave with people on balancing parenting and creative practice. If you are interested in reading them they are here: http://www.fvckthemedia.com/issue63/frontpage

Rockmommy: Do you think mom musicians, in general, have it harder than other musicians (e.g., single men, dads, etc.)? In what ways?

Katy Otto: I don’t think anything is that cut and dry. I don’t think gender is binary. I think there are many factors at play, including the support networks people have, as well as other resources such as money. I have been fortunate in weaving together a strong web of support to allow me to continue my musical practice. I also have very understanding band mates in both of my active bands. There are some aspects of societal gender roles that have meant that, in general, I think there are more challenges for a mother even just perceptually when she is away from her child and out in the world doing things. For example, I’ve had even “progressive” male friends ask me when I’ve been at a show I am about to play if my partner Chris is “babysitting.” It really is mind boggling. I think one time I said, “Who would he be babysitting?” Dads parent their children. They don’t babysit their own children. This is an annoying kind of question, but I also think any single parent is going to obviously have a host of different challenges that I don’t have as a co-parent managing childcare and an outside life, regardless of gender.

I will say that I know a number of cis men in hetero relationships who are musicians who I have seen have a very different experience than I have. They have said to me that becoming a parent didn’t vastly impact their ability to tour, etc., or the activity of their band, but in a lot of these cases I’ve seen that that is because their female partner bears the brunt of child rearing duties. When I did my interview series, I did interview men who play in bands, but I specifically chose to speak with men who I knew where playing a very active role in their children’s lives — including some single fathers. I think the question you pose is complex and I don’t think there is a clearcut answer.

Rockmommy: How has motherhood influenced your music, or creativity in general?

Katy Otto: I view the time I have to play music now as more precious than ever, and I value it as sacred. I feel drive to be out and present in the world, doing the thing that has meant the most to me since I was a teen. I want to have both – motherhood and a creative life. I think there are also all kinds of ways to be a mother, and we can challenge that definition all the time. My bandmate recently got me an awesome book called Revolutionary Mothering. It provides a lot of excellent conversations on motherhood as experienced by queer women, women of color, and low income women. It really has challenged a lot of stereotypes I’ve seen and absorbed in the dominant culture about motherhood since I was a child. I am incredibly grateful for this book and can’t recommend it enough.

I am also only just learning how motherhood will affect my creativity, since I am new to this. It’s been hard to eke out the same space and time to create, but again I feel so grateful when I have it that I think I pour a lot into it. I am interested in building networks and relationships with other mothers and parents so we can pitch in and help each other out with child care and support as we all continue to create in the world. I want my child to be part of a beloved community of mutuality, and working towards that also seems like its own kind of creative practice. I have always felt like community organizing and social justice work, indeed political imagination in general, were urgent forms of creative practice.

I also think my interest in heavy, dissonant music has only continued to grow the older I get. So far I think motherhood has only added to that.

Rockmommy: We always like to ask rockmommies about balance — have you found a way to balance your motherhood, work, and other endeavors? Or is it something you’re still working toward?

Katy Otto: This is a constant work in progress, and I know many other mothers know much more than I do. I have not been afraid to reach out and ask for support, and I’ve been humbled and lucky to receive it. I have a partner who is very committed to an equitable sharing of childcare and other domestic work. We both work full time too, so we’re continuing to negotiate what that looks like. He is very dedicated to jiu jitsu practice, and I try to make sure he has enough time out of the house for that, too. We check in about scheduling regularly. It’s a lot to balance work, creative life, parenting, and time for our relationship with each other. A key has been the help of friends and family. David, my son, has a beautiful array of other people in his life. This feels really positive to me and right for our family.

Recently Trophy Wife played a benefit show for Decarcerate PA in Pittsburgh that offered childcare on site, in a room with sound protection. That was an incredible experience — David’s first trip as a roadie. Part of how it worked was the combination of a supportive partner who understands my need to drive across the state and play music in DIY venues, a bandmate who is incredibly accommodating to a person with a child, and a community that actively supports and welcomes parents. The show was a release for the second edition of the zine “Women in Sound” by Madeleine Campbell. She is a phenomenal human being and you should definitely check her zine out here.

Rockmommy: What is the best motherhood advice you’ve received, which is worthy of being passed along?

Katy Otto: I hold on to something that Ian MacKaye of all people told me, when I had a lengthy conversation with him while pregnant. He basically shared the idea that the single best way for me to parent was to continue being my authentic self. It’s been important for me to know that when I am living in the world as the person I’ve worked hard to be, that will help me be who my child needs. The instinct to parent is in our bones. We can make the roads by walking, as the book I mentioned Revolutionary Mothering emphasizes. We can reject blueprints and paradigms that aren’t right for us, some of which reinforce dangerous binaries and stereotypes. I continue to be inspired by so many of my friends who parent and create with beauty, imagination, and courage — and I’m particularly grateful for all the folks who allowed me to interview them for the series I mentioned before. I hope to keep adding to it, and I hope it can be part of ongoing conversations.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy

Mother, Drum, Repeat: The NATCH’s Trish on Making it All Work

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

I first met Trish and her husband Chris nearly a decade ago, right before we embarked on the Girls Rock Girls Rule 2007 tour with their band America’s Sweetheart and my band MM & The Underage Hotties. Neither of us were moms back then, so there was plenty of time to practice, play, and plan for the future.

In 2010, everything changed as Trish and Chris welcomed their daughter Myla Sol into the world. Today, they live in Vermont, dividing their time between parenting, serious work, creative endeavors (they recently launched Good Body Products, a totally organic body care product line), and two rock bands (The NATCH! and The Fantastic Partnerz).

While life has definitely changed, Trish’s musical chops certainly haven’t. Her drumming style is still snappy and tight, and her band’s sound — self-described as a cross between “The Clash, Breeders, The Minutemen, and The Police” — as cool and fluid as ever (psst, take a listen here).

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The NATCH! drummer/rockmommy Trish with her daughter Myla Sol helping out

 

Recently, we caught up with Trish as she embarked on a string of East Coast shows (they played New London, CT, on Friday 4/15, and are playing NYC on Saturday, 4/23).

The full exchange follows:

ROCKMOMMY: You’ve been playing with The NATCH! for a long time. How has being a mother shaped or influenced your music?

TRISH: Yeah, we’ve been around a bit, we toured a lot but then took a long break for [having a baby], plus our bass player, Paris, got married in Mexico but now we’re back! So, Myla Sol, my 5 1/2 year old, has been with The NATCH! since the womb, recording, touring until I was 9 months, then we did and still do the ear plugs and noise protection head phones thing.

I feel like I’ve done it all with a kid! I’ve practiced and recorded when she was nursing, played shows with her standing on the back of my seat hanging on my shoulders while I play, and let her sit on my back when I was up front singing. There have definitely been moments where I just didn’t think I could do it but we just pushed through it. What’s key is having understanding and helpful bandmates, friends, and family to make the whole thing work — if I didn’t have the supporting people around it would be very difficult or next to impossible! I am blessed.

So in The NATCH!, we all write lyrics and songs, and take turns lead singing — we love throwing everything into a pot and mixing it up NATCH style. Now that Myla is older and talks a lot she has definitely given us some silly and twisted ideas for songs. It’s been fun, challenging as hell sometimes, and really real but I was going to play music no matter what.

RM: If music is not your full-time job, how do you make time for it, while having a little one?

TRISH: Music is my half time job. I play in two bands, The NATCH! and The Fantastic Partnerz and between both bands I’m one busy mama. I also have a new business, Good Body Products, a 100% organic body care product. Everything is plant based and handmade in small batches. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. My husband, Chris, is the guitar player in both bands and we’ve been playing together for over 14 years. I basically play music and make products every single day and couldn’t image a more fulfilling way to spend my life. Myla is involved with everything from helping the band with plugging in pedals and passing out set lists to then helping us tend to our medicinal herb gardens and labeling our product jars. Last year she came out with her own brand of organic body glitter gel and it was a hit at the Farmer’s Market Kids Day.

RM: How many hours a week do you practice?

TRISH: When Myla was small, it would be as long as possible, 15 mins, 30 mins and I’d be happy to get those in. Now she’s much older and I generally practice one to three hours per day and that includes partially on the kit, practice pad and just writing and then least once or twice a week with full band(s).

RM: What are your plans for Spring and Summer 2016?

TRISH: We’re going to finally release our debut CD this summer!!! We’re super psyched to finally get it out. We’ll also be playing as much as possible. We have gigs in Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, and hopefully a tour through the Midwest with our buddies in Cleveland at JIB Machine Records and Chicago.

RM: What advice do you have to other rock mommies out there, trying to find time for their craft (and maybe other things like going to the gym), while balancing work and parenthood?

TRISH: Make it part of your day no matter what. If you can carve out 30 minutes to 1 hour, do it! Just the nature of being a mom, you will rock that time so hard because it’s so coveted!

UPCOMING SHOWS: 

4/23: The NATCH! are playing Parkside Lounge, 317 E. Houston Street, NYC. 10 p.m.

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—- Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.

Practicing Guitar During Maternity Leave: 6 Tips

Maternity leave is a time to heal and bond with your baby. But for first-time moms it can be just as hectic as it is blissful, with baby crying at unpredictable times (like 3 a.m.) or waking up in the middle of the night several times. Still, that’s no reason you have to let your guitar playing go!

Like working out or investing time in anything you love, keeping “in shape” with your music skills is essential for guitar-playing moms.

Here are some tips on how to make time for music — or how to not let life as a mom of young ones to get in the way of playing guitar.

1. Set easy goals. When you have a child, time — the amount you have, how you use it, and how you value it — changes. Before my first son, Nathan, was born, I used to play guitar in the mornings, from 9 to 10 a.m., when I was most relaxed. In addition to teaching guitar, I played several hours every week — often times with a band in tow. Now, with two under two, I barely have time in the morning for myself other than make coffee! So I set a simple goal: play 1.5 hours a week for myself (not including time spent working on lesson plans). Sometimes a wailing (and hungry!) infant interrupts a song, but for the most part, having the goal has kept me motivated to stay in shape.

2. Keep Your guitar out of its case: When you become a mom, life is hectic even if you have help. And sometimes, even the thought of taking your guitar out of its case can be overwhelming. Do yourself a favor and keep it out in full display. If you have a toddler, like I do, install guitar hooks on your wall (we just bought several and intend to put them up any day now with my husband’s new drill).

3. Practice in chunks of time. I totally get it — you’re not going to play for two hours straight, only getting up for bathroom breaks. I’m not, either, save for the two times I had a gig last year and I lined up a babysitter so I could rehearse for two hours straight. Unless you’re a professional musician, you don’t have that kind of time anymore. What I recommend instead is practicing for 15- to 30-minute increments throughout the day. You can either time yourself or just play a few songs until baby wakes up for his or her nap.

4. Play five minutes every day. Some people wake up and meditate. Others stretch into gorgeous yoga poses. Most days, I wake up and reach for my acoustic — or at least I try to. The advice “play at least five minutes a day”— which I heard from another guitarist when I first started playing — has served me since college. And for moms, it’s especially important: Playing for just five minutes is better than not playing at all.

5. Play even when you don’t feel like playing. Do you always feel like working out at the gym? I certainly don’t! But I love the benefit of having a great figure, and feeling mentally and physically fantastic. The same goes for playing guitar: You need to practice regularly to stay in shape, or else your fingers will get sore and you will slowly forget how much you loved playing.

6. Play to your baby (even when he/she cries). This is, perhaps, the most important tip of all! Music is magic. I played guitar several times a week when both kids were in utero, and as a result, they love listening to me play. Nathan actually dances now when I play “Old McDonald Had a Farm” (although I just play E major over and over again!). Music is linked with all kinds of health benefits, such as improving mood and brain function. And when music comes from mommy, it’s even better!

The Growing Differences Between How my Child-free Friends and Friends with Kids Think

Last May, about a month before I got knocked up with baby #2, I tried on the most stunning, black-and-floral-print, jaw-dropping Parker dress at Apricot Lane, a super-cute boutique in Fairfield, Conn., where I live. It was a lovely, sunny Sunday, and my dear husband had taken our baby son, Nathan, to his grandparents’ house, so I could have a few hours to myself.

When I saw my reflection in the mirror, I was stunned at how great I still looked, at 37, in a designer dress. It was a real confidence boost to a mom, let me tell you. Then I saw the price tag: $235!!!

Now, it’s not that I don’t have enough money to afford a $235 designer dress. I do. But with Nathan in daycare, and plans to buy a home on the horizon, I knew it had to be a truly special dress to drop that kind of cash spontaneously.

So I called my fashion-forward friend A. to ask her what I should do: Should I fork over the money and splurge on the dress? Should I pass?

“I’d wait, look around a bit, see what else you can find,” said A.

Fair enough. After all, A. always gives me great advice. Unfortunately, I forgot to take into account that she is child-free, and therefore, by default, experiences the world a bit differently than I do.

Long story short, I took her advice because it seemed like the “smart” thing to do — I figured later that week I’d find another great dress when I stopped by the mall during my downtime. But two hours of downtime and a trip to the mall never came. And then it was mid June. I desperately trolled the Internet, but the dress was sold out online. The one I had put on hold at Apricot Lane was long gone, too.

Almost a year later, and I’m still thinking about that dress — the Parker Lily dress.

When I recalled the experience, months later, to my friend Karina, who has a son, her response made me seethe even more for listening to my child-free friend: “Oh my god, you should have bought the dress,” she said. “Who has time to go shopping? You have a kid!”

The experience did, however, enlighten me to the reality that there’s a growing gap between how my friends with kids and my friends without kids think about everything.

Take sleep.

Shortly after the dress incident, I headed south for a planned girls getaway with two of my besties and another girl pal. The night before, me and bestie #1 got about four hours of sleep each — me because of the anxiety and insomnia over leaving my then-11-month-old for a beach jaunt, and her because of my uncomfortable air mattress.

En route to Dewey Beach, Bestie #1 marveled at my ability to pump breast milk while driving, and when we arrived at the beach, it was rainy so we decided to get pedicures. That’s when she hit a wall. “I have to take a nap!” she lamented. The mood had changed so quickly, and she was cranky. I pondered this in disbelief: Was she really that exhausted over four hours of sleep for one night? Did people between the ages of 16 and 50 get exhausted over one bad night?

The answer, apparently, is yes.

But as any parent knows, when you have a kid you learn to bank sleep: a good night is four straight hours, interrupted once, followed by two hours, which gives you about six total. A bad night is two hours, or half-hour sleep segments spaced out by infant grunting. Parents learn to survive at 50 percent sleep capacity — or four hours a night total (including interruptions) — for weeks on end.

Child-free friends of mine don’t understand these bootcamp-like conditions, so they convince themselves they “need” sleep because they are used to a high level of sleep (it’s similar to how those of us who grew up in the middle-class suburbs “needed” new clothes every few months).

It’s not that I fault my bestie for needing so much sleep, or for taking care of herself. I did the same thing before I got pregnant with my first son. But when you have a baby, your views on sleep change from that point forward: Sleep is a beautiful thing; it’s great when you can get it but if you can’t, you won’t die.

Here is how those of us with kids “think” in various situations (versus those of us without them):

#1: 10 p.m. on a Tuesday

Friends with Children: Bedtime!

Child-free friends: “Just finished dinner after a grueling spin session at the gym. Time to catch up on missed shows. Where’s the remote?”

#2: 10 p.m. on a Friday

Friends with Children: “Where’s the remote? Honey, can you pour me some wine?”

Child-free friends: “I’ll meet you at the bar after dinner. The band goes on at 11 — let’s try to get a spot up front.”

#3: Working out at 6 a.m. 

Friends with Children: “Not happening until he sleeps through the night.”

Child-free friends: (Posts to Facebook): “So proud of myself for waking up at the crack of dawn to get in a spin class. Yay to me!”

#4: Trip from D.C. to New York/NY to D.C.

Friends with Children: “Did I pump enough milk for Saturday and Sunday morning if the train gets stuck?”

Child-free friends: “Maybe I will go shopping when I get to the city. Or have brunch.”

#5: Going out with the girls

Friends with Children: “Holy moly, this night better be awesome now that I forked over $150 for a babysitter, bought new makeup/got my hair done because I won’t have another night like this for six months!”

Child-free friends: “I wonder what club we should go to when Marisa gets to town? Do we have to go out at all? I go out all the time. I kind of want a night in.”

Other thoughts?

On Waiting Till Your 30s to Try for a Baby

My very first Mother’s Day kicked off in the most amazing way — with an article featuring me and Nathan in The Connecticut Post. Just imagine walking into your local CVS and seeing your son’s face on the front page of multiple newspapers (in a newsstand shared by USA Today and The New York Times)!

My son Nathan rocks out.

The article’s purpose — to shed light on the trend of women conceiving their first baby in their 30s — did so many great things. It did a near perfect job of capturing the essence of my rockin’ family life. I especially loved this part:

 “It still comes as a shock to Marisa when she examines her life from the outside. After living in the New York City bubble for so many years, where she felt like she was “living in an ageless place,” she still has trouble realizing she is 37 already and that life is more baby gates and feeding time than Brooklyn bars and concerts.”

The article’s light and uplifting tone made it the perfect Mother’s Day piece.

But, in being the perfect light and fun piece, it didn’t really shed light on the challenges and heartaches many women who wait until their 30s experience. Nor did it really touch on my experiences of almost not being a mom. That’s okay, though. I will touch on both in this blog!

As many of my close friends know, I was diagnosed with “Diminished Ovarian Reserve” after I started trying to get pregnant. My then-OB/GYN referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist who, in turn, told me I had about a 3 percent chance of conceiving because I was running out of eggs. This was shocking to hear — I was only 35, after all! We got a second opinion from another RE, who put me on DHEA and Synthroid to prime my body for IVF. Then, by some miracle and lots of love, Nathan was conceived just two weeks before my IVF estrogen priming was scheduled to begin.

I’m far from alone. A recent iVillage piece touches on difficulties many other women in their mid-30s are having:

“Some 15 percent of couples in which the woman is under 35 will have trouble conceiving, but one-third of those 35-39 and half of those 40 and older will, according to Peter McGovern, M.D., medical director of University Reproductive Associates in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

The rate and risk of miscarriages also increase with age. While women overall have a 10 to 25 percent chance of miscarrying, those numbers rise the older you get, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Women under 35 have a 15 percent chance of miscarrying, and the risk goes up to between 20-35 percent for women ages 35 to 45. Half of pregnancies among women 45 and older will end in miscarriage, the group says.”

Unfortunately, most journalism about women waiting till they are older to have a baby doesn’t touch upon these facts. All we hear about is “Halle Berry is pregnant at 46,” giving husbands and boyfriends the impression that their wives have plenty of time to get knocked up. I wish more media outlets would deliver the message that this is not always the case.

Being an infertility patient definitely puts a strain on relationships. It often makes women deeply insecure, and deeply depressed. And while I got lucky, somewhere there is a 35-year-old who won’t. She’ll wish she started trying to conceive much earlier. She’ll wish she didn’t listen to her ignorant but well-intentioned friends who said stuff like “oh, you have plenty of time. My friend Lizzie had a baby at 40!”

From this point on, I’d like to make it my mission to educate those under-informed couples who are choosing to wait, and choosing to believe that just because they’re 33 or whatever, they have “plenty of time.” I do hope they have plenty of time. Odds are, if they’re 30-39, that they do. But if they don’t, perhaps because of the woman’s rapidly diminishing ovarian reserve, they will find themselves regretting they didn’t look more closely at the cold, hard — but not light and fun — statistics.

On a separate note, enough is enough with the “can you afford to have a baby?” brand of journalism. You really can’t afford to wait to have a baby if you consider the cost of multiple rounds of IVF, counseling for the depression that ensues after you can’t conceive, and/or donor eggs (daycare, at $25,000-30,000 per year, is usually cheaper!). Adoption is also about 30K, which is something most people don’t know until they actually start looking into it. Often because they waited too long to start trying because USA Today’s “Can You afford to Have a Baby” quiz said they were about $10,000 short.

While the economy stays lackluster, these prices will only rise.

Sorry if this isn’t positive journalism. But it is the truth. And in that, it’s a service to the public. Exactly the way journalism was intended to be.

Baby Clothes with Guitars and Gender Roles

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Nathan in his GNR onesie

Nathan in his GNR onesie

I love shopping for clothes for Nathan. And I especially love buying (or receiving) cute little boy attire emblazoned with band logos, images of rock icons, and big electric guitars. The latter, especially.

But if I hadn’t had a boy, I wouldn’t have had so many choices in attire, and chances are, many of those onesies that say “I wanna rock” would say “I wanna garden” instead.

During a trip to Carter’s in my eighth month of pregnancy, I spent several minutes on both the girls’ side and the boys’ side of the store. The sex of my baby would be a surprise, but I wanted to see what kinds of cute little outfits awaited my forthcoming arrival.

Since I teach guitar and play in a band, I was immediately drawn to the huge array of shirts on the boy side of the store with guitars on them — some with little guitars, others with big guitar prints on them. But I was a bit troubled when I went to the girls’ side of the store, and, much to my dismay, could only find one little guitar-decorated shirt. And it said, “My daddy rocks!”

I asked the sales clerk about this. Surely, there were other options besides the zillions of pink, polka-dotted floral-print dresses and PJs for my hypothetical daughter!  Daddy does rock, but, in this case, mommy does rock, too, and can even play a GNR solo — so where is the onesie for that reality?

Sadly, I was told, there weren’t any such onesies or baby tees.

Well, this made me a bit miffed. Yes, I intended to dress a girl in pink (though I realized this was adhering to the same gender stereotypes some of my college feminist friends eschewed). Yes, I intended to put her in little bows. But why, oh why, are a options for baby girl clothes limited to the likes of pink-and-yellow-dot dresses and daisy-imprinted tees? Being a boy looked SO much cooler at Carter’s — everything that didn’t have a guitar printed on it had a monster truck or a dinosaur on it!

Apparently, the market for girl clothes with dinosaurs, monster trucks, and guitars on them didn’t exist. If it did, then Carter’s, one of the biggest infant-to-children clothing chains in the country, would be selling them.

So I guess baby clothes are where it all starts. Next, there are little girl baby dolls, so a girl can practice being a mommy when she’s only two, and then there are little girl kitchens, so she can practice being a homemaker. I’ve never seen a little boy kitchen — one that is tailored to the color palate and gender assumptions that go along with boyhood (baby blue everything, cool-looking gadgets, and neutral, faux-granite countertops).

Then again, I can’t deny I am a byproduct, to a certain degree, of gender conditioning. Though I would never buy my little girl a play kitchen, I don’t have any plans to buy my little boy a play kitchen, either. Or paint his nails pink, a la Jenna Lyons of J Crew.

But until people take a stand and start asking for boy-tailored baby kitchens or boy shirts with flowers and girl onesies with guitars — Carter’s and its competitors won’t change either. It’s all about what the majority of consumers (you and me) want.