There she was - my perfect daughter with her rosebud lips and halo of fluffy hair. "Hello, my firstborn... you are the new love of my life," I whispered as I marvelled at her delicate beauty and vowed to protect her forever.
Little did I realise that this doll needed no protection whatsoever. As William Shakespeare himself wrote; 'Though she be but little, she is fierce'.
A little sister later added to our girly brood, and now we are that family with purple tutus sticking out of drawers, drama galore and a whole lot of plaiting. Having girls made me realise that the reality of raising girls is quite different to how I imagined it might be. Here's what I wish I had known about raising daughters:
1. They won't comply with your fashion vision
Ok, I'll admit it, about 50% of why I wanted girls was to dress them in the most beautiful clothes - peter pan collars, sparkly tights, fur capes, patent shoes. However, I never accounted for the fact that these little divas know their own mind and insist on only wearing what THEY want to wear. Yes, that means sundresses in November, a monopoly on pink, and how did I get the only girl in the world who refuses to wear tights?
2. Pass the Oscar
The drama is off the charts in our hectic household. Our terrible two screeches 'I DO IT' every thirty seconds while her older sister collapses in a theatrical heap if her dolls furniture is moved even an inch (usually by her little sister).
3. They sing. A lot.
"Let it goooo, let it goooo' is the regular background sound in our home. Their little fairy voices are heartachingly innocent (and very, very high). I wouldn't change it for the world - well, maybe just the song choices.
4. My girls are VERY independent.
These little beauties are champion snugglers, but sometimes my girls give off an air of 'we don't really need you at all' that is sometimes hard to take. They just get on with things. The other day, my daughter (she's 6) was washing an empty milk carton at the sink. When I asked her what she was doing she told me that her teacher had asked for it for school for arts and crafts. I didn't get a look in.
5. They are in constant conflict.
My girlies are the type (like I was) that will believe in fairies until they are 12. Their vulnerability and innocence is achingly sweet, but there are also moments when they ooze a strength that is directly at odds with that childishness. My 6-year-old recently drew a picture of me dressed as a knight with the words 'Mummy is as brave as a knight and a king and a lion.' It came from nowhere, but it meant everything. I'm proud that my girls see me as such a solid figure. And while I treasure this innocence, I am also trying to teach them that they can do anything and be anyone. Even a knight...
6. Girls can be SO bossy.
'Put your shoes over there and help me lift this corner,' I hear my toddler boss her older brother. The funniest part is that he complies quicker than if I had asked him. She bosses her daddy around too. 'Get me my bo-bo,' she demands confidently. Sometimes when I'm in the shower, I can overhear my crew at play and my daughter chastises her brother in a voice that can only be described as 'sassy'. There is a reason we call my two-year-old 'Boss Baby' in our house.
7. Sisters are everything.
One of my biggest desires in life was to have a little girl. Then, I wanted, more than anything else, for her to have a sister. They are four years apart so don't really fight (yet) over clothes or toys because they like different things, but the love that passes between them is just beautiful. Whenever I glance up they are giggling together, singing together (see point 3) tickling each other or 'doing' each other's hair. I know as they get older, rivalries will emerge and the drama will escalate, but for now - my happiness is watching my girls interact with a bond that I hope they will share for life.
8. You will see a sweet side to your partner
Watching my husband (attempt) to plait the girl's hair or seeing his giant hands scoop them up onto his shoulders is a joy to watch. There is something so lovely about seeing a huge man (that you love) gently wiping tiny tears from the tiny faces of his little girls.
9. You can never have enough bows.
My girls are obsessed with accessories (what girl isn't!) On any given day, you will catch my girls in polka-dot wellies, with fancy handbags, colourful beads and a giant bow in their hair. It's not like they want to look like boho chic meets eclectic anime meets birthday present wrapping, but they just love anything they can stick on to themselves. And sunglasses.
10. They really do sparkle.
My daughter and her friends are currently into glitter tattoos (at birthday parties) They sport them while playing with glitter, while wearing sparkly bags and talking about their glitter fairies. We all love a bit of bling so who can blame them.
But all children sparkle in their own way - their eyes shine with mischief as they explore and discover, their personalities glow as they watch and learn from those around them, and they radiate love with their sweet smiles and never-let-you-go hugs.
Little girls are amazing because we see so much of ourselves in them. Raising them isn't for the fainthearted, but it takes a strong woman to raise another. I'm hoping my little sidekicks absorb all my good parts and help me become a better mum to them every single day.
Good luck, girl mamas!