When people find out I have kids they usually take an interest.
When they find out that I have 3 they become sympathetic to the challenges of having multiple young children.
When they find out I have 3 daughters they start to apologize.
I don’t mean anyone’s actually said, “I’m so sorry that you have only daughters.”
No, it comes with a subtler nuance. A more sophisticated disdain for girls.
“Were you trying for a boy?”
“I bet you want a boy. You need a son.”
“There must be a lot of pink in your house.”
“Get used to ________________ “(fill that blank with tea parties, Barbies, painting nails, whatever it is people think little girls do a lot of.)
“Get a gun to chase away all those boys.”
“That’s a lot of weddings to pay for. Start saving now.”
The worst might be when they feel the need to point out that my house will one day be filled with menstruating women.
Now, this isn’t the universal response to my daughters, but it has happened enough times to make me wonder what this weird pride is that people have in sons and why it isn’t extended to daughters. What is it that people think young boys will be able to provide that a girl can’t? Is it gender specific? Do they only think fathers want sons, and mothers want daughters? As if opposite genders are unable to connect in any truly meaningful way?
This gender matching actually began before my daughters were born. Before we knew it was a daughter, in fact….”Are you hoping for a boy?”
No. No, I’m hoping for a baby. Not even a healthy baby. Just a baby. Because no matter what that baby turns out to be I’m going to include them in every area of my life, my interests, my family, my hobbies, my town, my friends, everything. And I know that some of the things I love they’re not going to, and that will be okay. And I know that they’ll find interests in things that don’t interest me, and that will be okay too. Because not only am I going to include them in my life but I’m going to involve myself in theirs because I understand that their life is not my life and my life is not their life. And so, I will discover new interests, new hobbies, new friends, new family, new everything through their eyes and my life will be better for having them in it no matter who or what that child is.
And so, my response to the comments above:
We were trying for children. The gender was unimportant. Multiple children does not mean we were playing the pregnancy lottery hoping to “win” with a son.
I’m not sure having a son would change my relationship to my children. I’m a very involved father and my girls love most of the things I love so we connect pretty deep. If I had a son we’d still be watching fantasy and science fiction movies, we’d still be reading comic books and watching cartoons, we’d still be dancing and laughing and hugging and kissing and snuggling, we’d still say “I love you.”
There’s pink in my house. I’m not sure it’s “a lot.”
A quick check confirms that it’s moderate at most. We tend to encourage diversity in our children so they wear a variety of colors, rooms are shades of blue and green, they play with so many different kinds of toys that so few are pink, and they watch so many different kinds of shows that they have interest in more than just “girly” (ug) things.
Yeah, I got used to imaginative play, going to the park, watching shows and movies, rough housing, noise, whatever real fast. Again, we encourage diversity in many ways. We don’t linger on one thing for too long. So, they play some really great games and have amazing imaginations and interests in a lot of things. The last tea party my oldest daughter threw had poison tea so I had to fake die like 20 times.
Before showing a boy my daughter brings home a gun I will extend to him my open hand. I am confident that my relationship with my daughters, and the relationship they observe between my wife and myself, will help teach them about healthy relationships and so I will trust that when they bring a boy home he is someone that I too will find interesting and personable. Yes! Yes! There WILL be those boys they bring home that I’m not at all in support of, but this again goes back to our family’s relationship. We’re working hard now to create a strong bond in our family. One that’s stronger than poor decisions in dates. If someone doesn’t fit with the family then it isn’t going to fit for them.
Geez, I wasn’t even thinking about weddings. I’m more concerned about their college tuition. You can have a very nice, very modest wedding for a low cost (trust me that’s how I got married and it was perfect.) But, college cost what it cost and all 3 of them are going to have to have some kind of degree.
And finally, I will be very sad when my house is no longer filled with the silly and rambunctious little girls that live here now, but my heart will be so full when it is filled with strong women.
Art by Christina Steenz Stewart