I'm the editor of Smart, a magazine for women in southcentral Pennsylvania. I said "I do" to my wonderful husband in 2002. We have two adorable children who have taught me much about life and love. With the birth of my second child, I bid farewell to my dreams of having a clean house, folded laundry and family dinners on weeknights.

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More than just a costume

Dr. Mara and Charlie the Tiger head out for some tricks and treats.

By KARA EBERLE
Smart Mama

While shopping for Halloween costumes this year, I noticed a theme.

Girls could choose from a wide array of princess, fairy and witch costumes.

Boys could be firemen, police officers, ship captains, ninjas and doctors.

And, although I know it’s just a Halloween costume, I couldn’t help but think about the message this sends to my little girl: Boys are protectors and professionals. Girls are fair maidens waiting to be rescued or ugly witches.

As Mara and I scanned the costumes, I tried not to influence her decision, except to point her away from the ones that cost more than $30.

When we came to the doctor costume in the boy section, she was excited.

“I want to be a doctor!” she proclaimed.

My heart filled with pride, no matter how silly or insignificant her decision might seem.

“Of course, you can be a doctor,” I said and put the outfit into the cart. I chose not to tell her it was supposed to be a boy costume, even though the tag clearly said “BOY” on it.

When we got home, Mara beamed as she told her daddy what she picked out. Mark told her that she could be a real doctor when she grows up. Mara maintained that she wants to be a princess.

“But you’re already a princess,” said my wise husband, “so you can be a doctor when you grow up.”

Mara seemed OK with that idea and then used her pretend stethoscope to check her baby brother’s heart beat.

***

Since that day, I have had many daydreams about my little girl being a doctor. “Paging Dr. Eberle” seems to have such a nice ring to it.

But, just as I don’t want costume manufacturers to influence my daughter’s decisions, I need to remember not to push Mara into being something just because I like the idea of it.

I’ll make sure she knows that I will be proud of her no matter what she chooses to do.

And I’ll tuck away this year’s Halloween costume in her hope chest, just in case.

Kara Eberle is editor of Smart. Sign up for a free subscription to the magazine at www.smartmamapa.com/subscribe.

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