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.

No Time to Be Creative/Gwen Envy

Yes, I am a writer. For a living. That means people pay me to write stuff (and teach guitar after hours). When I was a little girl, I really wanted to be a writer. When I was a slightly-less-little girl, I wanted to write songs and perform them. I won poetry awards. I started several bands. I made records. My life is very charmed, and I’ve been very lucky.

My greatest creative creation, no doubt, is my son Nathan. He is beautiful and beyond perfect. I am overjoyed just being in his presence.

But balancing motherhood and career has left me little to no time for much-needed extracurricular activities. Yes, I manage to squeeze in four workouts a week, but that’s maintenance (if it isn’t, it should be, mommies!). I’d love to have two hours a week to just mess around on guitar without having to watch my baby at the same time. I’d love another hour a week to work on my novel. And another hour per week to write a blog or several.

Yet I’m not willing to give up exercising to get those extra hours. I’m not willing to give up doing the dishes, doing the laundry, or basic cleaning (wiping counters, making beds). So what can I give up? I’m not a super-paid rockstar mom like Pink or Sarah McLaughlin, who can afford to hire nannies and work on their art all day. In fact, they’re paid to work on their art all day. I can’t stand it when I read magazine articles that are all like, “Gwen Stefani… you’re sooo busy. How do you fit it all in?”

Gwen, unlike most rocker mommies, has someone to do the cleaning and the cooking. And the babysitting. Her creative outlet IS her day job. She’s paid to do what she wants creatively. Of course, she has argued, in articles, “that’s not true… I have a fashion line and I have to do magazine promotions, etc. There’s no time to chill.”

Well, Gwen, I don’t have time to chill either. And I have to do the laundry/clean bottles/work a day job that isn’t being a rockstar. Imagine that!

I’d love to have Gwen’s apparent “lack” of time to chill. Oh, what we would all do with that kind of money!

Anyway, this blog might be suffering a bit from a lack of editing. But it’s still better, grammatically, than many edited blogs. And I’m sure it’s better than what Gwen could write, were she left to her own devices. Without a team to clean up those misplaced commas and absent apostrophes.

At least I have something to show for this master’s degree!

Let’s hope my little son wants to make creative time with mommy as he gets older. That will be awesome for both of us.