In her latest blog, von Oy discusses Gray's love of all things girly -- and explains why she's okay with self-expression (for now).

By peoplestaff225
Updated December 02, 2020 08:45 PM
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Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 36, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, in May 2012. She is now 21 months old.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

In her latest blog, von Oy discusses Gray’s love of all things girly — and explains why she’s okay with self-expression (for now).

Jenna von Oy Blog


Like mama, like daughter – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

When I was about 10 years old, a little boy named Mikey* (*This name has been changed to protect the fashion “unconscious”) lived across the street. He was your typical 5-year-old it seemed, except for the fact that he was mildly obsessed with a pair of canary yellow rain boots.

No joke, I never saw the kid without them. It’s a 95-degree, scorcher of a summer day? Canary yellow rain boots. There’s two feet of snow, and the pond is covered with ice? Canary yellow rain boots. I recall feeling somewhat sorry for his mother who, I suspect, had visions of cross trainers, cowboy kicks, Nike high tops, and Buster Brown saddle shoes dancing in her head at night. A pair of Chuck Taylor’s would probably have made her downright drunk with enthusiasm!

But alas, there were only the aforementioned canary yellow rain boots.

I never quite understood Mikey’s fascination, but those galoshes made his world go ’round. I even overheard his mother mention that he would launch into hysterics if she didn’t let him sleep in them; temper tantrums ensued if she fought him on wearing them to school. (Which transpired every morning, by the way, because apparently he felt sneakers were the devil incarnate.)

Oh yes, and did I fail to mention he often paired those boots with his Batman cape? He was the best-dressed superhero on the block.

Anyway, I recall wondering why his mother bothered battling his favorite ensemble in the first place, since everybody knows you can’t argue logic with a 5-year-old. Heck, you can’t argue logic with some adults, never mind a kindergartener. Children don’t care that recess might not be as constructive … what kid preemptively thinks about the trials and tribulations of climbing a jungle gym in Wellingtons? (I can only imagine what an adventure dodgeball must have been!)

Regardless, I am reminded of this quirky little neighborhood anecdote, because of my daughter’s current obsession with hats … and legwarmers … and barrettes … and sunglasses. The list goes on. Yes, this month’s blog is about something totally frivolous: accessories.

Jenna von Oy Blog


Too cool for grocery shopping – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

I know, I know, parenting is rife with complex and meaningful things to discuss and contemplate, such as existentialism as it relates to breastfeeding, and the metaphysics of motherhood. (Don’t go rushing to look those subjects up on Wikipedia; I’m totally making them up.)

Nevertheless, sometimes it’s just nice to talk about the simple things in life … to take a break from the controversial “mommy war” woes, or our self-inflicted fears of inadequate parenting.

Every now and then, it’s a relief to have a shallow escape. It’s much like choosing to watch Pretty Woman (for the ten thousandth time), instead of that documentary on the hostile takeover of machines. Of course, having a 1-year old on my hands makes the idea of sitting through an entire movie of ANY kind highly impractical (if not laughable), but I think you catch my drift.

This blog post may not be nearly as thought-provoking as some of the others I’ve written, but I’d like to think it has its merits.

And now back to the academic nobility of accessories. So to speak.

My little Gray is a girly-girl all the way, which sometimes surprises me, given that she isn’t overly dainty. That said, she loves her bows, bracelets, tiaras, and tutus. If she were capable of it, she’d scale Mt. Everest — or at least her armoire — to retrieve a pair of sparkly sunglasses.

And you think I was a cap collector as a kid? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, my friends! My daughter puts my hat loving to shame. There isn’t a tam she’d turn down, or a beret she’d balk at.

In fact, one evening, when she was in a bit of a foul mood thanks to teething miseries, she pointed to a particularly fancy fedora on my closet shelf. “Hat,” she whimpered through crocodile tears.

My husband retrieved it for her and she placed it on her own head. The waterworks immediately stopped. “More hat,” she said with a small smirk, and pointed to a winter knit that hung from a hook on our wall. Again, my husband took it down and handed it to her.

Jenna von Oy Blog


Tons of toppers – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

A moment later, once the requested brims were piled high on top of her head, we were looking at the most contented girl in the world; no tears were in sight, as she pranced around in her happy hats for the next several hours. Who needs bribery or “time-outs” when you have remedy by hat collection?

When I say my daughter “loves accessories,” I’m not sure you can truly appreciate the depth of that statement. I mean she won’t get out of the car without the perfect accoutrements. She requests pigtails and bows before grocery store outings. She steals bracelets from my closet, and drags out my most colorful shoes. She’d bring her scarves into the bathtub if I let her. (Alas, the line must be drawn somewhere, as rubber duckies do not require neckwear. At least as far as I know, anyway.)

My point is, Gray adores accessories in a way that is different from most toddlers. I often have mothers stop and marvel at how I “get her to keep sunglasses on.” Little do they know, that requires no effort on my part whatsoever. One woman recently commented, “Your daughter keeps her shades on? I can’t even get my kid to keep his pants on!” Here’s hoping her kid isn’t in his 20s.

Gray’s fondness happens to be for accessories, but I find it fascinating what other kids do (or don’t) latch onto as well. One of my Cradle Chronicles blog readers wrote to me in September, detailing her daughter’s obsession with wearing orange. (Orange is the new black, after all, right?) Apparently her sweet tot refuses to dress in any other color! And from what I can tell, that isn’t an anomaly.

On the other side of things, there are also the items children won’t touch with a 10-foot pole. I, for one, abhorred wearing jeans until I was well into my teens. I would sooner have sported a burlap sack to elementary school, than to have poured myself into a pair of acid-washed denim dungarees. What’s that, you say? You hated jeans? But jeans are a staple!! Crazy, right? (I also despised pizza at the time, so I was clearly a bit off-kilter.)

So far, Gray isn’t shunning any articles of clothing, but she certainly has her affinities. I’m often stunned by the number of opinions she asserts, in reference to her daily apparel. Who knew 21-month olds were so particular about which color socks to wear?

My baby is a fashion maven in the making — the littlest Project Runway protégé on the planet. And while I am very reluctant to encourage a material obsession with clothes (pun intended), I am a huge proponent of encouraging self-expression through one’s wardrobe. Clothing has always offered me the chance to convey my unique style and spirit, and it warms my heart to see Gray embracing the same methods.

Speaking of which …

Looking back, I’m terrified at some of the things I wore out in public when I was younger. Can we talk about the awful effect the ’80s had on my fashion sense?! (I suspect I’m not alone in that observation.) My mom was a brave woman to let me experience my freedom of expression in that way. In some cases, she was a brave woman to let me out of the house at all, but we’ll let that slide for now.

Jenna von Oy Blog


Rockin’ the roller skates – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

I hope I’ll be equally courageous in my parenting because I think motherhood is often about adjusting your way of thinking to fit your child’s personality. Please don’t misunderstand me here — I’m not saying you shouldn’t set crucial boundaries for your child; they aren’t meant to raise themselves.

The way I see it, it’s about bending without breaking, and setting my daughter on a positive path without sacrificing my own parenting convictions. It’s about letting Gray take some poetic license, without exceeding the ethical limitations I’ve set.

I acknowledge that those boundaries vary from parent to parent, but mine include letting my kid pick out some of her own outfit each day. (Within reason, of course!) It might surprise you to hear this, but I’m actually a relatively conservative mom. Yes, I have tattoos and I grew up in show business, but I was raised in a fairly traditional household, by parents that wholeheartedly promoted respect and courtesy.

I love that it takes all kinds to make the world, and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but my husband and I tend to take an “old-fashioned” approach to our parenting. And that certainly transfers over into what Gray wears … We want our daughter to be proud of what she puts on her body. Moreover, we want her to be proud of the body that wears it.

All of that said, I don’t care if she matches, or if her hair is askew (as is often the case), or if she wants to wear a pair of boy’s pants instead of a dress. Self-confidence should supersede all of those things, and if Gray feels good about her choices, I’m proud of that.

Sure, there will likely come a day when I’m forced to say, “No, you can’t wear that miniskirt to school,” or “I’m not okay with your midriff showing.” But all in due time.

For now, we’re just focusing on the accessories, and I’m content letting her choose her own adventure where those are concerned! I’d like to think her choices are assisting her in acquiring a sense of pride and accomplishment. No matter how insignificant it may seem in the whole scheme of things, she is still exercising her independence each time she selects her own belt or feathered hair clip. She is learning to appreciate the decision-making process, while brushing up on her knowledge of colors and clothing-related vocabulary.

Best of all, she is learning to be unique. She is learning to be her version of Gray. And that’s the only Gray there should be.

Jenna von Oy Blog


The accessory queen – Mimosa Arts Photography

Until next time …

— Jenna von Oy

More from Jenna’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

  • Jenna von Oy’s Blog: The World According to Gray
  • Jenna von Oy’s Blog: A Big Thanks to the Little Guy
  • Jenna von Oy’s Blog: An Ode to October and Our Wedding Day