The comments and questions started almost immediately after the
birth of our second son:
When are you going to try for the princess?
I bet your husband is dying for a daddy's little
Aren't you completely sick of buying everything in
Now to be fair, I am not one to take offense to such things. As
a person who accidentally allows her mouth to move faster than her
brain on a regular basis, it would be hypocritical of me to judge
my friends' unfiltered musings. I myself have repeated similar
statements to moms with gaggles of same-sexed children. It seems
that many of us figure the "perfect" family includes a desire for
For those ready to pounce, I promise to address that "perfect"
concept in a moment. Fear not. Most of my theories on perfection
were shot to hell the first six weeks of parenting when I was
operating on no sleep and with baby vomit crusted to my neck.
After I became pregnant with my third child (whom I understood
for medical reasons would be our last), I was surprisingly
desperate for another boy. At that point, I had the clothes, the
toys, and the wherewithal for wee lads. I also recognized from my
own Barbie Doll years that I had zero proficiency in combing,
braiding or styling hair. I feared producing a ballet-loving,
girlie-girl who would be ashamed of her mother's lack of
coordination, style, and grace.
If you've seen that Honey Boo Boo show, you get the idea.
Before I went for the 20-week ultrasound (or as most pregnant
mothers refer to it, "the big reveal"), I was mentally prepared for
a girl. I planned to read up on books like Queen Bees and
Wannabees. I bought a guide on how to get those foo-foo bows
to stick to a kid's head. I would work hard at understanding the
complex nature of little mademoiselles, leaving behind my simpler
world of slugs and snails and puppy dog tails.
As the ultrasound tech rubbed goopy gel all over my abdomen, I
suffered sudden flashbacks of all the horrible things my sister and
I did to my mother growing up. My brothers? They simply played
ball, oblivious to the war being waged inside our suburban raised
ranch. Megan and I engaged in all-out battles of histrionic
proportions during our teen years. I am amazed both of us are still
alive. We were also the reason our neighbors behind us (nearest our
bedroom window) moved out every year or two.
With my husband at work, my mom and a friend accompanied me
downtown for the ultrasound. My mom even stuffed a little pink doll
in her purse with "It's a Girl!" stuck to it. I had been so adamant
that I was having a daughter that she figured the doll was a sure
bet. When the tech announced that my last baby was instead another
boy, I burst into tears.
Everyone in the room assumed I was disappointed.
I was relieved.
Looking back, I realize that I had underestimated myself. The
unknown has always scared me a bit. When I go to a restaurant and
discover something I find tasty, I continue to order it for 20
years. At the time of my last pregnancy, I already knew I enjoyed
my sons. They were the equivalent of my favorite burgers from Top
Notch. The idea of a daughter seemed far more exotic, like a squid
entrée off the seafood menu.
It felt iffy.
I now watch friends raise wonderful girls, and I am sometimes
envious of the strong bond they share. My own mother and I are also
very close, and a part of me wonders if I will maintain the same
type of relationship with my sons as they grow up and marry. I have
heard so many tales of men who pretty much relegate their
relationships with their mothers to every-other-Sunday phone calls
and Mother's Day brunch.
Boys, if you are listening, I am willing to pull out every Irish
Catholic Mother Guilt Card if you EVER try to get away with such a
thing. I expect a call every week. Texting doesn't count. And
brunch on Sundays. EVERY Sunday.
After all, I took you people to ice hockey for chrissakes.
There really is only one number that reflects the perfect family
ratio. As long as there is 100 percent love (not to be confused
with 100 percent patience, 100 percent kindness, or 100 percent
lack of swearing), there is perfection. No matter how many
children. No matter what the obstacles. No matter how deep the
doubts and fears.
But if my boys want to shoot for 100 percent shooting accuracy
in the bathroom arena, I am not opposed.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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