I ain’t raisin’ no princess.

Carrie-Fisher-Star-Wars-618x400What is up with dads referring to their daughters as princesses? Unless they are, in fact, the fathers of actual princesses. Those guys get a pass, but what about all the hundreds of thousands of other dads who are not royalty, yet use the term? Is this even legal?

I get that your daughter is super-special, someone you feel is precious and are loyal to. I also have a daughter (with another one on the way). I understand that feeling of protection and affection. I also feel it for my son. Yet I have never found the need to use royal terminology to describe either of them.

My daughter’s aesthetic is not very “girly.” She doesn’t like pink, or frilly. Nor is she prone to donning tiaras or succumbing to bouts of the vapours when flustered. This is not to suggest that she is a “tomboy,” because that term is misleading and sexist. I’m also not suggesting that there would be anything wrong if she was “girly” either. She’s just not.

She likes to wear her older brother’s hand-me-downs, and while this has not been actively encouraged, it is economically pleasing to me. But that’s about it. I don’t really care how she dresses, except that, like anyone, I can tell that she is conscious of the image she puts forth. I know that she feels uncomfortable wearing dresses, for instance, because she will never wear one. This doesn’t disappoint me, because I don’t care. But I feel I might be in the minority when it comes to these things, at least if the mass media is the yardstick by which I should be measuring all things in my life.

For instance, when my daughter gets married (if she even does, or if there is marriage at all in the future…on the space station EARTH 2.0), what is up with me “giving” her away? Sure, legally I own her, but only half. Her mother has dibs on the other half, and I’m not sure who ended up with which end. But traditionally the dad gives away the bride in a wedding scenario, and I don’t know how I feel about that. I never want to actually give her away because I always want her to be in my life. And while I recognize that kids grow up and leave the nest, it’s not likely that she would be climbing into her covered wagon and setting out to discover the Wild West. Even if she did, I’m fairly certain they have wifi out there now, or at least spotty cell reception.

Getting back to the princess thing, I suppose you can call your kid whatever you want, really. Words and labels have power, and the idea of a princess can be different things to different people. Some think of someone special and irreplaceable. Others think of the damsel in distress, waiting for a brave knight to save her. And others think of a feisty, no nonsense, get the job done lady with bagels on either side of her head. Who am I to judge? I just don’t feel comfortable with the connotation that my daughter is anything other than who she is. Sure, she’s as valuable to me as I can imagine, but she’s her; she’s her own person, and I want to encourage that. I’ll always be there for her, but part of watching your kids grow up is watching them become independent, and using nicknames like “princess” or “not you, the other one” can help or hinder that sense of identity and independence. She’s already well on her way at 7, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be running the whole show around here by 17.

It goes without saying, however, that if she (or her soon-to-be-born sister) does some day become an actual, for-real princess, I’m fine with just a little castle somewhere over on the edge of whichever kingdom she marries into. Maybe I’d take a dragon to get around on, and some cool looking armour (think Stormtrooper – Star Wars, not Nazi – but maybe shinier).

“We’re pregnant!” No, she’s pregnant.

We're Pregnant!

“We’re pregnant!”

All too often I hear couples that are expecting a baby announce, or let slip in conversation, that they are, in fact, expecting a baby. “We’re pregnant,” they say, with a little squeeze or a hug, and smile as they look into each others’ eyes for a brief second, sharing a bond that only they can know, while a cashier waits a beat before asking if they collect Air Miles, and want a plastic bag for the Anusol, Doritos, and pickled onions they dashed out to the pharmacy at midnight to buy.

Great news. Couldn’t be happier. But you don’t need a bag for three things, and I too am at said pharmacy, waiting in line, so hurry up and get going. It’s late, and my own pregnant wife is also craving Doritos.

There are differences between a couple having a baby, and a couple being pregnant. While both soon-to-be parents are changing, those changes are not the same.

The main difference is that, while I may be indulging in a few more Doritos and pickled onions than I usually would, and have noticed a slight increase in my midriff, it is nothing compared to that of my wife. This is in large part because I don’t have an actual human being growing inside me.

You see, I am not also pregnant. I do have things growing in my stomach: excitement, anxiety, flora, and maybe the odd parasite. No kids, though. No fetus, no placenta.

Yet people keep saying it: “It might be a little soon, but…we’re pregnant!” Cue screams and high-fives all around.

Maybe the idea is that there is a sharing of both the good and the bad during this time. “We’re pregnant, we’re going through this together.” It’s true that we will be having a baby together (the good), but let’s face it, the majority of the “having” involves extraction through extreme means (the bad), and will not physically effect me beyond a severely squeezed hand (also bad). My vagina will not be stretched to its limits (good), because I don’t have one.

It could be argued that this is all just semantics. Having a child is a life-long experience for both parents. The fact that the actual, physical act of giving birth is down to one of us is really just a sliver of time in our lives. But what a sliver.

And it’s not just the whole birth/stretching of private parts/potential complications and surgeries etc. that set mother apart from father. There is a bond that, whether fathers want to admit it or not, is always there between a child and their mother. Sure, I have seen this bond blossom into an explosive cocktail of anger and resentment, but it’s there nonetheless.

This isn’t to suggest that fathers don’t have their own bond with their children, because they certainly do. It’s just that, due to the pre-existing bond between mother and child, which is more symbiotic, fathers are usually able to engage the “go ask your mother” protocol, as clearly that bond is traditionally seen as taking precedent. And, of course, at some point father and child become one in the same; it’s her sand box, we’re all just playing in it, kicking sand around and making a mess that we’ll have to clean up later. Except, of course, we won’t clean it up “properly,” and she’ll just have to do it again anyway.

But I digress.

So, in closing: while I’m not trying to preach to anyone, think twice before announcing that the two of you are pregnant. The two of you are having a child together, for sure, but only one of you can bend over and pick things up.

 

Note: While this post is about expectant parents in a relationship, I am not suggesting that only people in that situation will experience the joys and frustrations of having and raising children. People from all backgrounds, orientations, and status can make great parents, and may find some truths in here as well.