Things You Don’t Say to a Mother of Boys

A couple of days ago, this post by Mommyfriend on the Babble.com website hit my email box, and it struck a nerve. As the mother of two boys, I’m sure I’ve heard every one of those lines at least once. I’m pretty sure that all of us 4mothers, being members of of the Club of MOB (that’s Moms of Boys, naturally), have heard these once or twice.

Photo credit: Janineomg on Flickr

Of all of them, I think the one that rankles the most is the first comment: You need to have a girl.  It’s a sentiment that can be expressed in a number of different ways (my favourite is the direct ask: “So, when are you having that girl already!?!)  and which results in all manner of advice about how to achieve that end (hint: it’s all about flexibility) all of which amounts to the same thing: while it’s nice that you’ve got a couple of boys, you would be better/calmer/happier/more fulfilled /more blessed/more socially accepted / more complete if you just had a girl.

I remember very well the ultrasound at which we found out that Sebastian was a boy. Uncertain whether we would have any more children after him, I admit that I felt a sharp pinch of disappointment, like a mosquito bite, that I would likely never be the mother of a girl. As it turns out, we were never able to have more children; still, I no longer feel that sting. Rather, I feel incredibly blessed that some how, some way, I became the mother to these tremendous creatures who just happen to be male. To the extent that I have any residual wistfulness about not having any more children (celebrities may be able to pull off pregnancies in their 40s, but I am a mere mortal) I can tell you with certainty you that it’s not because I will never have a daughter but because I will never again have another child.

So here’s why the idea that family fulfillment comes only from at least “one of each” seems so absurd and people who make comments like “it would be so nice for you to have a girl to make your family complete” seem so insensitive. First of all, it’s not anyone’s business how many children you have, and of what flavour, anyway. Beyond that, it’s not until you can’t have something that you so deeply appreciate what you have, and only then that the superficial and irrelevant fall away, so that you can see clearly what good things you have in front of you. For me: it’s two boys, tucked into their beds as I type.

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9 thoughts on “Things You Don’t Say to a Mother of Boys

  1. We’re about to start TTC & I can’t seem to make my friends understand that we really don’t care what gender we’re lucky enough to be given. It’s an odd mindset to think we have to have one of each, isn’t it?

  2. I totally agree. My family is highly prone to boys. Out of all my cousins and brothers I am the only girl. So it was like my responsibility to carry on the torch somehow. My mother and grandmother actually CRIED each time I told them I was having boys. But I adore the two that I have – and wouldn’t trade them for the world. I don’t know if we’ll have any more children or not, but when I look at my two wee monkeys – awake, asleep, or even throwing full-on temper tantrums, I am grateful for them. I could do with a LITTLE less Star Wars in my life…..but that’s about it :)

  3. I get comments like that a lot but to be truthful there are times that I find myself pining for a girl. The reasons are all so completely selfish and based solely on fantasy and my strong desire to have a little less testosterone in the house. But would I trade any of my boys? Not ever. Would I ever be disappointed if I were blessed with another boy? Not for a second.

  4. I had a son first, and then a daughter. I really wanted a daughter the second time, but of course I couldn’t say so, because what if the second was a boy?

    In the delivery room, when the doctor announced it was a girl, I knew in the depth of my soul that the child’s gender was purely icing on the cake. The real joy was in having the second child, a new human being, regardless of gender. I would have loved a second son equally (but wouldn’t give up my daughter now for the world).

  5. Thank you so much for the wonderful post. I am a MOB, and so happy to have found your blog. All three of my boys started out as babies in the foster care system. We adopted our first, (who is now 5) and are waiting to adopt the other two, ages 2 years, and 3 months. I am constantly asked “When are you going to adopt a little girl? Another boy? You gonna get a little girl now? Don’t you want a little girl?” The truth is, I chose these boys, on purpose, period. I love them with all my heart and look forward to the many adventures that lie ahead. No, I don’t need a girl to feel fulfilled or complete my family. I am happy to be blessed with the three little men the Lord chose to put in my life. I’m so glad to find others who feel the same way I do :)

    Karla

  6. It’s fascinating that a long-standing cultural preference for boys has been overturned–I’m a mother of girls, and I don’t think anyone’s ever suggested anything about “needing” a boy.

    I have to confess that I read the “eight things never to say” nervously, in case I’d ever said any of them! The closest is that sometimes a mother of boys having a particularly wild day will comment wistfully on how calm my girls are and I’ll say that I’ve heard that girls are tougher when they’re teens–but that’s still relying on stereotypes and all that, so I probably need to work on a better response. For what it’s worth, I didn’t have a preference before they came along–no sadness at not having a boy, but I don’t think I would have felt any sadness about not having a girl either.

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