If I Had A Daughter, I’d Totally Take Her For Manicures

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spa kids manicureLong before I had kids, back when I worked full time at a fashion magazine, I’d get a bit irritated by the mothers getting manicures with their mini-mes in tow. “Honey, do you want to pick out a color?” they’d ask. Their excited little 4-year-olds would run off to the polish display, proudly choosing a hot pink, florescent yellow, electric blue – whatever the toddler color du jour.

“Do little girls really need polished fingernails?” I’d think while flipping through gossip rags and observing these kids out of the corner of my eye. Granted, some of them were absolutely adorable – and so proud of their rainbow-colored digits. Others were less endearing, like the ones who expected to be there, as if going to the salon was a right and not a privilege – or, more aptly, a special treat for a special occasion (as it is for almost half of Mommyish readers).

Now that I have children of my own, I’m wondering what the hell my problem was. I mean, I still think it’s obnoxious to see children who expect to be pampered, especially those who show up at the salon weekly. But more often than not, I see happy little girls who are THRILLED to be spending time with their mom doing something fun and care-free. And oftentimes the mothers themselves are lovely, which translates into little girls saying “please” and “thank you” and, in general, being gracious and respectful (and so darn cute).

To be clear, I think there’s a big difference between taking your young child for a manicure every now and then versus insisting that she get her hair chemically straightened each week (true story). I’m talking about the former type here, the moms who themselves are due for a manicure and so they bring their daughters along for the ride (as one Mommyish reader, a self-declared feminist, pointed out, “Sometimes a manicure is just a manicure… it’s cheaper to take your kids with you than hire a sitter”).

My view pre- and post-kid changed so drastically that I went from secretly judging the mani moms to treating my own little nieces to a mani/pedi for their birthdays (last year my sister joined us, and we all sipped coffee/hot chocolate and talked about school and sleepovers). We had a wonderful time – family bonding at its finest – and we’ll do again this year.

Now here’s the part that’s going to bring on the haters, but I’ll say it anyway: As a mom to two boys, I’m envious when I see all the cute mother-daughter pairings at the nail salon. Don’t get me wrong, I would not change what I have for the world. But I think of being an adult, and how running to get a quick mani is something I like to do with my own mom or sister or girlfriends, and how it’s really about female bonding more than anything else. That’s not to say we don’t bond over other, more meaningful, activities as well – but a mani is a no-brainer.

With boys, bonding takes on a whole other meaning. And it certainly doesn’t include sitting side-by-side, yakking away as we get primped (at least not with my boys). It’s an issue I’ve discussed with fellow moms of boys, and it appears we’re in the same boat. For one friend, spotting a mother-daughter pair at the salon makes her think of all the girls’ trips and spa weekends she’ll never have; and while she, too, feels blessed to have two wonderful children, she can’t help but feel envious.

With this envy comes the inevitable guilt. We know we should be happy to have healthy children regardless of gender – and happy we are – but let’s get real: there are there certain fantasies that get quashed when you’re the mom of boys only. And it has nothing to do with love or gratefulness, and everything to do with female bonding. For some reason, it all gets manifested into the season’s must-have polish.

(Photo: iStockphoto)