An On-line Baby Shower!

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So here I am, nearly four weeks into life with a daughter and it is wonderful! Today I dressed Isabel in the prettiest little purple outfit, a gorgeous ensemble passed down from two of her very-well dressed cousins. Yesterday, it was a pink smocked number from her one and only girl cousin on my side. I love this!

I was telling Paul that dressing a girl is very fun, I think because you see how you are investing in a lifetime of fashion sense. With the boys, I caught on after number three that you can indeed dress them in cute cotton john-johns, but once they hit a certain age, all the time and money you invested in making them look good — that’s all shot. These days, my four older boys are happy with a pair of jeans and a pack of Hanes t-shirts.

Of course, I realize that Isabel might have a totally different approach to clothes than I do…but I am going to LIVE. IT. UP. with all these dresses in the meantime.

Here is my request of you: what bit of advice can you share with me as I enter these new and uncharted waters of life with a girl? For those of you who know me, either in real life or through reading me, what do you think I need to know?

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  1. A Princess, five guys - then me!! says

    Girls are COMPLETELY different!! After my four boys, when I had my girl a year ago, it was like I had never had a child before! And she is SO much more sensitive than my boys ever were. Giving her a calm and quiet "no-no" can send her into a 10 minute screaming fit! (DRAMA!!!)

    Just be ready to re-learn this whole parenting thing as she gets older!

    And, I never expected the softer, gentler SWEET and calm side she brings out in my boys! They can turn it on (AND OFF) in an instant! They are quite smitten with her (and her with them)! That may be my favorite part – I never knew my boys had anything but wild, daring and crazy in them!!

  2. The Schwant Family says

    Have you read Growing Strong Daughters? Seems right up your alley.

  3. There was a news article the other day that 14 yr. old girls are worse than 2 year olds. My oldest is a girl and she just turned 14 in Feb. Enjoy the differences. Soon the boys will be playing dolls and Isabel will be playing with cars. And yes girls are cuter to dress. I recommend garage sales and Once Upon a Child to minimize the addiction.

  4. Anonymous says

    Let her be her own kind of girl. My mother was intent on my development of fashion sense (and I'm not devoid of it, and I actually am a good interior decorator) but it was never my top priority. I just wasn't that kind of girlie girl. I used to think I had missed a mark or something, but grew up and found a lot of girls/women like me. I've never read a fashion mag in my life. I shop to buy what I've already decided to buy, etc. It was just different from my mother's approach.

    There are flavors of femininity. Let her pick hers.

  5. Amanda M. says

    Monograms, custom hair bows, custom outfits, ruffly bloomers, smocked dresses. Tons of that cute custom stuff on Etsy and Ebay. 🙂 Those are my favorite girlie things.
    Do all of this when she is very little because I have learned that earlier and earlier these little munchkins are definitely developing their own sense of style. At 4, my Mariel was already having some serious fashion opinions and my best girlfriend's daughter won't wear anything but a dress. And that has been the case since she was three!
    Anyway, just LIVE IT UP! She's a perfectly beautiful little girl!
    Dressing little girls is such a ball!

  6. Kristen says

    Like anonymous said, letting her be herself is important. That being said, I do wish my mom had spent a larger (but small :)) amount of time teaching me to sew and cook. I am blessed I married a chef, but the sewing would have been a blessing. I think it's important to cultivate the natural, healthy tendencies of all our children, especially our girls, but to expose them to other healthy influences as well.

  7. Amanda M. says

    I have bought the little personalized bloomers and tote bags from this gal and LOVED them!!!

  8. Faithemmanuel says

    I have one girl and three boys. IMO, girls are more complicated; and their relationship with their mother has the tendency to get really complicated. I try to guard against that by not playing emotional games, and letting her be herself.
    I love the mother-daughter relationship; my daughter and I are grateful to have each other in a male-dominated household. 🙂 Like all aspects of married life, I find that it is harder and takes more work than I expected; but so much better than I could have imagined!!

  9. The Frat Pack + Me says

    Oh how I wish I knew….only boys here. I would just pink her up from head to toe! Oh, and hair bows galore!

  10. Nigel Lane says

    Raising a daughter is very different from raising a son. Don't try to make her too girly girl; just allow her to be herself and be aware that girls can have very complicated emotions sometimes. To learn more helpful tips about child-rearing, you should check out the website:

  11. I have five girls, and they have five very distinct attitudes about clothes. 🙂 They all began life wearing cute little frilly things, (mostly the exact same frilly things, in fact, as it got passed down) but somewhere around year 2 things always seem to snag. They really care about what they wear, and need to feel "good" although "good" means different things to each of them. My oldest (10) couldn't care less what she looks like as long it's comfortable. My youngest (3) is a total tomboy who loves rolling in the mud….and wearing flouncy sundresses.

    I have found, though, that if you put them in anything other than pink for the first three months (even if it's covered with ruffles and bows!) people will assume it's a boy.

  12. Hi Rachel,

    I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and I so enjoy reading it and love your humor, but I felt a little guilty. I only have girls! I grew up with 4 little brothers, so I think I was nostalgic for your humor about all things boy 🙂 My girls are little (1 and 2.5), and I'm young and inexperienced, but I feel that I learned a lot about femininity from my mom, how she dressed, etc. I still treat her like my personal shopper sometimes, asking her advice, especially about shoes! I think the example we set in our own dress can shape that. As far as little dresses, all I have to say is YOU GO GIRL! My 2.5-year-old is already picky about her clothes, so we're treading interesting waters with her choices, but I control what comes in to the house! My only regret is that I didn't start hairbows from the beginning. She finally has hair and she won't wear one with her little bob 🙁

  13. Anonymous says

    Rachel, the hardest thing for me with Sophie (after the three boys), was disciplining her during the crawling and toddling phases. I actually had to have my husband do the hand-pop when she went for electrical outlets at first. I couldn't do it! And it does need to be done. Soph has quite an independent streak and a strong will, so curbing her Lord of the Flies instincts is necessary. Otherwise, enjoy the non-stop talking, b/c once it starts, it DOES. NOT. STOP. She out-talks her three brothers combined. And I love it. – L

  14. Jennie C. says

    She'll be just like you, so speak gently and love intensely. 😉

  15. FYI – Little girls have their daddys wrapped around their tiny fingers.

  16. I'm a clothing fanatic when it comes to my girls. I loved Gymboree when they were babies and now I like Children's place for them. I live in NJ so the big bows and some of the cute customs that you see on esty and ebay are a bit over the top up here. Same goes for most of the adorable bows.

    I didn't use the skull crushing headbands on my younger daughter. I liked using pretty grosgrain ribbon bows on alligator clips for her.

    Being a girl mommy is so much fun, and I would imagine after five boys this must be incredibly exciting for you.

    I relished putting my girls in dresses all of the time when they were babies, but I wised up with my second daughter and realized that dresses aren't ideal when they're in the crawling stage since the knees get caught in the skirt of the dress. This problem can be solved by tucking the front of the dress into the diaper cover, or just putting her in cute skirts that are above the knee. I put my younger daughter in lots of bubble outfits the spring when she was crawling.

    I think I've rambled on enough now, but it's only because I'm so excited for you. And, don't be surprised if your princess is into getting dirty like the boys. My youngest could rival a boy with her daring and dirt loving tendencies.

  17. Read the Anne of Green Gables series!

  18. Seems silly to state the obvious, but you were a little girl once! So just dress her how you were (or wished you were) dressed. 🙂 I say take advantage of the time when you are in complete control of her wardrobe and use it to make yourself smile. Like others said, she'll have her own opinions soon enough!

  19. Jennifer G. says

    She'll have your husband wrapped around her little finger. In a good way!

  20. Christine says

    1. Nail polish- tomboys and girly girls alike love the stuff. 2. In my experience, potty training was easiest with a girl. 3. Some of my daughter's nine and ten year old girlfriends are already talking about "looking fat." We've luckily avoided that, but everything I've read says that moms of girls have to stop being so critical of themselves in front of their daughters. 4. Enjoy every minute!

  21. Ecce Quam Bonam says

    There are some really great comments above. Ailish could hardly be less like me in terms of taste. Although I smocked dresses for her and bought loads of pink everything (still her beyond-favorite-fav color for virtually everything she owns), I was ready for more sturdy, utilitarian clothes once the K-block backyard began to beckon at about age 2. She has never thought 'utilitarian' was a legitimate criterion for clothes, even for camping or digging in the dirt.

    We have dealt with our taste and style differences in two ways:

    1. I set the level for dress depending on the activity and occasion, and she would pick the particular outfit from a very limited number of choices.

    2. Fairly early on, I, who would opt for a visit to the dentist over clothes shopping, dragged other people along so she had a less grumpy audience watching her model every outfit in her size. I also sent her off with her godmother and a few other trusted friends whose tastes were more like her own. (That was one of the best things I ever did for her. She developed wonderful, long-standing adult relationships which have been especially treasured at times when her dad and/or I have been completely dense or generally hard for her to deal with.)

  22. Celeste says

    Ok, I don't know you & you don't know me, but I have a 4 1/2 year old & I think the two things I'm proudest of are that she has her own voice (I never worry about her being taken advantage of or bullied because I've always encouraged her to voice her opinion & have always respected it) also, it's so important that she develop a healthy relationship with food & her body. Read a book called Intuitive Eating. It will change your life and save her a ton of grief.
    And I think all those people that say girls are drama are on crack. Just expect wonderfulness & that's what she'll give you. Have fun!

  23. Anonymous says

    Relax, enjoy, indulge. (and enjoy the simplicity of your boys. that is fantastic!) You have many years to fret about fashion issues, right now…love the stage you are in.

  24. Anonymous says

    Here is my advice:

    If you are the kind of mom who is going to want to "do" your daughters hair with ponytails, bows, braids or anything of the type… must start doing it at the earliest possible moment that the hair is long enough and then keep doing it everyday! If they realize that it is an option to not have their hair done….it's over! lol

  25. Heather says

    My little word of advice is similar to the comment above. Start putting hair bows, clips, bands, etc. in her hair as soon as possible and everyday so they get used to it. I have 3 girls and have waited too long with everyone of them. They never would keep anything in their hair for long. They're better about it now that they're older, but they still don't like getting their hair done.

    I'm so happy for you! Have fun and enjoy your little girl!

  26. Anonymous says

    I had 4 boys before my first girl (and another boy and 2 more girls). My advice would be to resist the urge to spoil her…shower her with the same love and attention as your boys. Remember that each child is a unique and wonderful gift from God.

    God's blessings on your beautiful family.

  27. Anonymous says

    As she grows up, don't treat or parent her differently than the boys. It is tempting to spoil the youngest especially if she is a girl. Be consistent with the same rules, same privledges, etc. Otherwise it will cause resentment within your family. 🙂

  28. I raised my girl first, then 4 boys. Get ready for some big differences!! The biggest difference I see is emotionally. Girls tend to be WAY more emotional than boys, and hold onto things. I know everyone is different, but I see it a lot with my friends that have both. I also agree with another poster – spend time teaching her things like cooking – she will thank you for it later (says my daughter who is now in college and in charge of feeding herself!) Also, make sure you have time with just her – so she gets "girl" time with Mom. When she gets older – dates by herself with Dad. My husband did this all through elementary and middle school, and then as much as possible in high school. He wanted to be sure she knew, before she started dating, how she was supposed to be treated by a man. She treasures that time with him.

  29. I think the idea of dates with dad is fabulous, and I hope my daughter and husband will do the same. I would say that nurturing the relationships between your daughter and her brothers is important for similar reasons. Obviously, siblings will be siblings, but teaching your boys to honor and protect their sister, their mother and any other women in their life is invaluable for them and for the family. Boy/Girl siblings can learn so much from one another.

  30. Sara in South Dakota says

    My oldest daughter has 4 brothers and a new baby sister and I love the fact that one minute she can be skipping around in her "Fancy Nancy" (great book character) clothes and having tea parties……and the next minute she can be competitively running down the soccer field or racing on her bike with 2 skinned up knees.
    Muddy nose and toesies turned pink princess pajamaa girl after a flower scented bubble bath. Grace with grit…..batting at the baseball in her skirt and hair bows and then cradling her dolls and singing them to sleep. I love those combinations. Keep her dribbling the basketballs and buy a cute pink catcher's mitt!

  31. Kathryn says

    This might start a major argument, and maybe it's just me, but keep her hair short for as long as you can. I know it's tempting to let her hair grow, but it is a major hassle to deal with. You can still do the headbands and clips on short hair.

    My daughter is 12 and her hair was never much longer than her chin until she was 10. We live in FL. She lasted maybe two months until she admitted that shorter hair was easier and cooler and much neater.

    Just my 2 cents.

  32. CarrieT says

    I think after having a bunch of boys first (I had 3) I had a tendency to expect my girl to fulfill ALL these girly dreams I had held so long. I had to realize that she is her own person and there is no such thing as the "ideal" daughter who fulfills all your dress-up, activity, reading certain books, hobbies, etc. dreams. I certainly wasn't the "ideal" daughter for my mom as we butted heads so much as a teen!

    Also my daughter was adopted at age 4from Korea (so were my boys but they came home as babies) with serious special needs. So we are contending with that too, which we knew about but still involves some grieving. I find I enjoy her best when I take her as she is and enjoy the things we BOTH like to do (like giving each other manicures and pedicures :-)) rather than worrying about the things we may not be able to do together, like plan a wedding someday. (She will probably need lifelong care.)

    I realize this is a very different situation from yours, but the advice to enjoy her for who she is and not try to mold her into some "idea" of a daughter is good advice. And also holds true for loving our sons too! 🙂 You will do great! You are a great mom already!

    Carrie – mom to 4 from Korea

  33. Rachel, congratulations again on the birth of your daughter!!!!

    I've got 3 boys (4th in utero) and 4 girls. Here's what I wish someone had told me…

    1. You will see yourself in your girls. Be gentle like your mother was for you.

    2. Daddies have a special place in their hearts for their girls. Cherish and encourage it!

    3. Little girls LOVE to have their nails (fingers and toes) painted. Five minutes worth of work pays off in smiles a mile wide.

    4. They need to go shopping with Mommy. Boys (for the most part) don't care, but for girls, it is a major bonding experience.

  34. Buy as many cute clothes for you as you can…because one day soon, you will not be the one picking out the clothes…SHE will. (OH, how I miss Mary Jane's and pleated skirts and on and on and on…)

  35. dear rachel,
    congratulations on the birth of your baby girl. i've been reading you for quite some time and enjoy the antics of the testosterhome. and will surely enjoy your new chronicles as the estrogen scales have tipped a bit in your favor…. i myself am a mama of 3 boys and one girl and that girl will be 11 next month.
    so my advice to you. at this very moment. is to continue what you are doing. love that baby girl. hold her. and look deep into her eyes. because before you know it she'll grow up! and by then nothing else will matter.
    there is a dress that hangs on the wall in my bedroom. it is the dress that i bought the day i found out i was having a girl. it was the beginning of my journey with pink laundry and pink lint. to this day i don't know where that baby girl went. in her place there is this tall. rosy cheeked. beautiful person. who is nothing. and yet everything that i could have ever dreamed she'd be. and that is what isabel will be for you. sons are wonderful. they are gifts from God. but one cannot help feel very special when a daugther is placed in your care. the unsteady waters of this stormy life are not easy for girls. their purity and integrity is constantly being attacked. however, you have the gift of a strong faith.
    and that, is really all you need.
    best regards….

  36. Rachel –

    The rule we have in place with our oldest daughter is "dress appropriately for the weather." It's hard to watch the combinations she came up with at 2 (and sometimes harder to watch her combos at 9) but she was always comfortable, if not dressed as "together" as I would have liked!

    Let her have her opinions – listen to them and give your reasons when you don't agree with them.

    Help her learn how to solve problems. Her solutions will most likely not be the ones that her brothers would have chosen – so their advice probably won't help her much!

    Encourage positive body image – I teach 10 year olds and am amazed by how many already have negative thoughts about what they look like.

    Enjoy her – every day and at every stage!

  37. PeaceLoveHappiness says

    Enjoy picking her clothes for her while you can, soon enough she will have an opinion! I am a mom of 3 girls, and now a 1 week old son… not sure what to do with a boy!

  38. I don't have any girls – but my friend's 5yo daughter changes her clothes at least 5 times a day!

  39. Anonymous says

    If you don't know how to sew, learn now. By the time your daughter is 8, you will have a hard time finding decent clothing for her in stores. After 3 boys, we were blessed with a girl who is now 10. I am now teaching her to sew and to develop the domestic skills she will need someday to care for her own family. This is such a totally different dimension of my life as a mother than I ever had with my boys.

  40. Jennifer says

    I have three girls so far…ages 5, 3 and 1. In terms of fashion…I like to indulge in the monogrammed and smocked dresses for special occasions. But, for daily wear, I invest in good hairbows and good shoes. I believe both of those will dress up any outfit at all…be it a dress from Target, t-shirt and shorts, whatever. Good hair accessories and good shoes are where it's at! 🙂

    In a general sense, my advice to you is don't expect her to be calmer or quieter just because she's a girl! My three are high-energy and give the boys in their respective classes a run for their money.