Op-ed: How A Tomboy Learned to Play With Barbies

Motherhood changes everything.

BY Monica Hurlbert

July 31 2013 3:00 AM ET

As a child, I knew I was not like other little girls. I had no interest in playing with Barbies or talking about boys and putting on makeup. I was the girl who played full-on tackle football with boys. When I played house, I never pretended to be the stay-at-home wife and mommy.

Even today I am that tomboy. I wear men's clothes, and I have a very masculine job. I am still a woman, and I enjoy being a woman, but I am butch lesbian. I didn't sit around daydreaming of having children. Being a mother was the last thing I would have ever expected from myself — but I decided I wanted to be a mother.

As shocking as it was for others, I look at my two little girls, and still can't believe I had them. Every other moment before I became a mom seems like a completely different life. When I was younger, I was not a very good person, especially to the women of the world. I left a lot of heartache and destruction in my wake.

When I was carrying my first baby, and I found out she was a girl, my first thought was, What am I going to do with a little girl?

Karma, was my second thought.

But I willingly traded beer bottles, nameless faces, and partying all night for baby bottles, the title, "Mommy," and midnight feedings.

After you give birth, you just walk out the hospital door, they strap the baby into a car seat for you, and off you go. There is no instruction manual. Playing house back when I was younger might have come in handy about now. 

Having children is a strange life-changing decision. I had no clue what I was getting into, and I have never been more terrified, but something clicked. I just changed. It's still a learning experience. People ask the same stupid questions about my kids, from conception to am I going to raise them gay — that one makes me laugh.

My days are filled with being a short order cook, and a Barbie wardrobe specialist. I was allergic to Barbies during my own childhood, but now they're part of what this mom thing is about. I am learning every day. I still have not mastered French braids or applying fingernail polish without making a mess. My daily concern revolves around whether my oldest daughter has pottied before bed, and whether I have enough milk for my 1-year-old who still needs to be fed every few hours through the night.

I am sure I don't parent like everybody else does. Hell, I still do not have any clue what I am doing some days. I have learned more about being a better person through my children. I used to care about flirting with women and picking out new outfits for Saturday night at the club. Now, the best feelings come from hearing, "I love you this much" with arms stretched as far as possible and everything else in between sun-up to sun-down. What I thought I knew about love, and what loving another person really meant is not even close to what I've learned through my girls.

My babies have definitely changed me. My walking and talking 3-year-old is hard to keep up with at times. We were out shopping while she was wearing a T-shirt that says, "Mom Answers To Me." A woman on the check out line said to me, "That shirt is so true." She does kind of rule me a bit. She is such a princess.

Raising my girls shows me that we are made exactly the way we're supposed to be. My oldest daughter loves to wear dresses and makeup. She has a shoe collection that would make a grown woman smile ear-to-ear. She didn't learn any of that from me. As my youngest turns one, I am so excited for her and what's to come. She's still a baby, so there is no way to tell what she will like. Right now it's just me. She doesn't take to lots of people, if she is in my arms it's almost impossible to get her out.

It's strange to be loved by another person so much, in the way that your kids love you, and then conversely to be able to love them back. But hey, I must love my kids — my oldest had me singing along to some teen beach movie last night. Judging from who I was just a couple of years ago, that is a whole lot of love and compromise. 

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