Wanting a Girl, Having a Boy
How one mom dealt with wanting a girl, but having a boy
I'm a moody person. Sometimes I struggle for equilibrium. I didn't need that sense of chaos and disorder on the outside, too -- a toddler running circles around a couch, a 7-year-old falling out of trees. I lacked the inner stability, I thought, to withstand it. What I wanted on the outside, instead, was peace and quiet: a girl coloring at a table, humming softly.
All I could think of, as we drove along the highway, my head pressed against the window glass, were toy trucks banging against walls for hours on end, fist fights, dirt and bugs, and screaming.
I spent the next couple of months in a panic. I worried, despite my husband's assurances, that I wouldn't be able to love my son; I could imagine the damage I would do to him, being a mother who always wished he were something other than what he was.
For a long while, I harbored a hope that the technician had made a mistake, that what she thought was a "winkie" was actually some other body part she hadn't accounted for. I kept picturing the moment of birth and the midwife announcing, "It's a girl," and the feeling of having been blessed with a miracle. And to be honest, I still have moments, well into my third trimester, when I wonder, What if?
I feel conflicted, it's true. But isn't so much of motherhood about ambivalence, no matter who your child is, no matter her size and shape, his preference for violin or football? I have realized this more and more as my pregnancy has progressed. There are always second thoughts, twinges of regret. Already, part of me is in mourning. My breasts will no longer be my husband's and mine to explore. My schedule will be dictated by someone else's demands. I will have so much -- too much? -- responsibility.
In those early months, it was easy for me to blame all those fears and concerns on the one concept of gender. As gender became the focus, it obscured the universality of my doubts. I could almost trick myself into thinking that if only the boy were a girl instead, I would be riding high day after day, without reservation or remorse. I know now that's not true. I also know that my regrets about not having a girl are real. They may have masked my other worries about motherhood earlier on, but they have their own weight and validity.
But I have, over time, opened myself up to ambivalence. And doing so has allowed me, paradoxically, to open myself up to love, too. Sometimes I feel such a strong connection to this creature that the time I have to wait until I actually get to hold him seems like torture, and the days pass at an unbearably slow pace.
And maybe he will surprise me. Maybe I am wrong about the way that boys are; maybe the stereotypes are just that. Maybe my son won't ram trucks into walls, maybe he won't always be running and doing, a streak of muscle zooming from room to room, no time to reflect and consider. Maybe he will want to color, take walks in the woods, talk to me about what he is thinking, sit by my side and read.
But maybe I will surprise myself instead. I don't want to make this my child's burden; I don't want to saddle him with the responsibility of bending his sturdy body to my wishes, of tamping down his exuberance to accommodate my sensibilities, my fragile wiring. Maybe I will discover that there is nothing more fun than putting on bright red rubber boots and jumping with full force into a mud puddle, that a lion's roar reaches down and finds the power inside you the way a kitty-cat's tame meow never could.
Maybe those are things I used to know myself but then forgot, as I learned to be what people expect from a little girl, as I figured out what made my own parents happiest. Maybe when my son runs around the house with his friends after school, his tube socks sliding off his feet, the color rising in his cheeks, and he accidentally knocks a vase off the mantel, I will hear chimes in the shattering of glass. I will not feel broken myself. I will see danger in those hundreds of sharp-edged parts, yes, but I will also see a bright new surface: something twinkling, lovely.