Bi Parenting: Refusing To Use The Term “Good Girl”

The phrase “good girl” has long weighed heavily on me. I grew up in a tight knit Irish-Italian-Catholic family in the small suburb of a small city. As much as I was taught to be strong and independent; my grandmother and mother definitely each have had their moments of rebellion, I was also taught that everything reflected on the family.

This meant finding a man who doesn’t mind doing the cooking, but also questioning why I didn’t offer him a sandwich the moment he entered the house. They praised career success, yet were quick to ask “what the heck is happening in your life that the house looks like that?” Move out and fly free, but does it have to be so far away and OMG you are LIVING IN SIN. You know, the usual Irish-Italian-Catholic guilt/love.

Let me be clear. I love my family immensely. They gave me a strong launch pad to the wider world, they understood that I had to fly, even if they didn’t like it. They are wonderfully flawed and messy humans whom I am delighted to be related to. They did the best they could with limited world views and always encouraged me to explore. However. I knew, in every part of my soul, that I had to be a caretaker, have a career, keep a house, get good grades, be independent, be willing to submit, and for the love of all things holy, not embarrass the family. I had to be “good”.

Or at least, appear to be.

“Good Girl” Guilt

I refuse to use the term “good girl” in reference to my daughters. In the sense of “good vs evil”, yeah I would want them to choose good — my goal is two humans who would have been at the first meeting of Dumbledore’s Army (although I don’t suspect either will sort Gryffindor, we are a more Ravenclaw / Hufflepuff family.)

I refuse to use the term “good girl” because I don’t want to burden my girls with that baggage or trying to live up to expectations that I struggle to meet. I never thought I could talk to my mom about sex, about my confusion, about my feelings. And so, I bottled that all up and worked hard to be seen as the “good girl” I’d been taught to be, instead of the messy human I was.

Seeing Me, Knowing Me

If you knew me in real life, you wouldn’t know I am hiding a secret. I admit to almost all of my history — the “Trampage” (always capitalized), the past abusive relationship, the pot smoking, the nights at the club, the terrible decisions I made chasing down fun. You would know that I can’t sit still and I frequently daydream, I’m often thinking of my next tattoo. I’d openly tell you that I’m sold on the idea of health care as a right for all Americans and that I don’t back down on my political views. You would think that I’m a straight woman, what with my two kids and husband, our house in the ‘burbs, and my SUV. But I’m not.

I feel OK being honest in online spaces, my husband knows and supports me. But most of the time I am biting back on a part of myself of sake of appearance, the “good girl” who’ll not cause her children any awkward social interactions if she can help it.

Which leads to the obvious questions — what, really, am I teaching my girls? How can I tell them to be true to themselves and strong in who they are when I am not? How can I expect them to feel comfortable talking to me about sexuality and self expression when I cannot feel comfortable being who I am? How can I raise them to understand attraction will be what it will be and there is no shame in being anywhere on the scatterplot of human sexuality if I’m hiding because I don’t want to make other people uncomfortable? At what point do I say, “Mommy loves Daddy the most, but she finds lots of different people attractive”?

Opportunity Knocks

Recently, my oldest daughter came home from pre-kindergarten and asked if I knew that boys could marry boys and girls could marry girls. I told her that people could marry whomever they wanted, as long as they both agreed to get married. She asked her father if he could marry another boy and he said “No, I’m married to Mommy” and at that point, she wandered off.

I still wonder what I would have said if she asked me about marrying another girl.

Submitted by Anonymous Mom