A few weeks ago, we went to a potluck with three other families. By coincidence, we all have two daughters, a preschooler (yes, I have to call Wildling a preschooler now!!!) and a baby. As the parents were standing there surveying this gaggle of girls, someone (Me, I think) commented how crazy it was that we all had girls, and one of the dads said, “I know. What did we all do wrong?”
What did we do . . . wrong?
There’s something wrong with having daughters? Are they inferior somehow? Should we have been mourning our collective tragedy, all devastated that there were no penises under those diapers?
I love my daughters. I wanted daughters. I was beyond thrilled at my ultrasounds when we learned that we were having girls, and relieved at their births when we confirmed that the ultrasounds were accurate.
But I guess some people don’t feel the same way, they instead view daughters as a failing, as though the merit in a man is the sons he can produce, not the children, no, just the sons.
Lest you think I’m being over dramatic and reading too much into an innocent comment, let me assure you I am not. I have two daughters, I have heard the comments.
“Guess you have to have another one so you can finally get your boy,” as though the sole reason we conceived Mellow was to make up for her sister’s sex.
“Don’t worry, third time’s a charm,” as though we are now obligated to bring another baby into the world to fulfill our duty to produce a male heir.
“You have to have another one, Will needs a son,” as though fathers can only properly bond with male offspring. Tell that to Will. Tell Will he needs a boy to play sports with, because running and jumping with Wildling isn’t the same as running and jumping with a boy. Tell Will that when he builds block towers and lego creations with Wildling, somehow those structures aren’t good enough or fun enough because her reproductive organs interfere. When Wildling is handing him screwdrivers and sorting his drill bits, tell him she’s doing it wrong because her uterus is getting in the way.
“Poor Will, a house full of girls,” ok, that I get, sort of. Poor Will, he’s got a house full of Wildling (poor me too, that kid has energy!), poor Will, he (and his wife who should receive the same sympathy) has two young children and not enough sleep. But it shouldn’t be because of the sex of the children. I sympathize with him because he lives in a house full of us, of his crazy family, his preschooler with her epic tantrums, his mild and happy baby who moves too fast to catch and is always climbing on something dangerous, his wife who always always always has a new idea or project for him to do. Poor Will for that, but it isn’t because we’re girls, it’s because we’re active and busy, and sometimes too loud.
When I was pregnant with Mellow, before we had our ultrasound and learned her sex, people assured me that I shouldn’t worry, that they just knew I would get my boy. My father in particular, every time I talked to him, told me that I would have a boy, that I should have a boy, that I should be excited that I was going to have a boy, and every time I told him that we were actually hoping for a girl, he laughed at me and promised that Will would get a son.
At Mellow’s ultrasound, my doctor, after viewing the screen, asked Will and I if we had a preference. We told her honestly that yes, we were really hoping for a girl, but if it was a boy we’d still keep him. The doctor laughed and told us that we were getting our girl, and that she was glad we were happy about it – she said that often when she had to tell parents of daughters that they were having another girl they were disappointed or upset about it.
I can understand that sometimes you really want a son, I don’t want to discount people’s preferences. I know that when my nephew was born my brother Jack was thrilled to be having a boy, and it wasn’t because he didn’t love his older daughter, it was that he wanted a boy too. But had he gotten a girl, he would have been equally thrilled by it. I understand that some parents want boys just as badly as I wanted girls.
I don’t mind if people have strong leanings toward having a child of one sex or another. I get it, I wanted daughters. What I object to is after a child is born and the parent or family members or strangers look at the child and decide that something is wrong, that the parents somehow screwed up. I would not be surprised if parents of multiple boys received similar comments about needing to have a daughter, or how they need to ‘try for a girl’ next time, because people always want to provide unasked for input on other people’s reproduction. I know people say these things all the time, and as annoying as the comments are, they are just coming from nosy people. It’s different when it’s the parent. It’s different when it’s the parent and he thinks the other parents of daughters must feel the same way, that they’ve done something wrong, that their daughters are just not good enough, that the daughters are the second prize, the error, the kind of kid you get when you did something wrong.
We did nothing wrong. We love our daughters, and we would have loved sons too. I love our girls for who they are, for the people they are becoming, and Will does too. Will loves our girls for who they are, not for how well they can prove his manhood.