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 girl.
Aren’t you completely sick of buying everything in BLUE?
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 both genders.
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.