Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mother of Brothers

We decided to learn the sex of our kids before they were born. But not for the usual reasons. Not because we were worried about planning an elaborate gender colored nursery and trousseau.  Hell, Caleb ended up in a pink crib anyway when we moved to Kenya. And not to make things, like naming the child or imagining after school activities, easier.
Completely secure in his manhood, practically daring you to say something about that pink crib.

Some parents wait to find out the gender so it will be a surprise when junior or juniette pops out, but we figured it would be a "surprise" just an earlier surprise in a different doctor's office.

Truth is, a "surprise" is not always such a great thing.  I wanted the news early so that the moment of birth stayed totally and completely magical.  So that there was no twinge of anything approaching disappointment marring that beautiful moment of birth.

I know, I know.  First time parents will always say "We don't care.  Just as long as the baby is healthy."  And I truly did not have strong preferences one way or another, but I felt myself starting to assume that I was having one particular gender. I summoned all my feminine and budding maternal intuition.  I placed my hands on my belly and meditated.  I had dreams.  I really *listened* to my body.  And it told me I was having a girl.  I started expecting her and even being excited about her.

And I told all my friends. I told my husband.  

And then my radiologist announced a congratulatory... "It's a little boy!"  My husband looked at me with this at once precious and monumental news, and asked me if I was going to cry.  You know, because of all the disappointment.

I was disappointed. I had pictured a girl. People tell me that new moms often picture a girl.  It's the gender whose experience you relate to the most. You can picture your relationship with a girl because you were a little girl to your own mom. Maybe I even started to picture taking her to dance classes and putting those cute little bows in her hair that she would immediately angrily remove.  I would be frustrated but secretly admire her pluck. Oh... the times we would have...

So, I guess in that radiologist's office I was a bit disappointed.  What am I supposed to do with a boy?

But he came and his gender, for the first few years, was completely besides the point. Like a typical new mom, I was completely and utterly in love.

When I got pregnant again, I learned not to listen to my clearly faulty intuition.  My husband passionately wanted a little girl though, so I suppose I absorbed some of that.  Having a girl would lend some finality to our child-rearing; make our family complete. I put some effort into willing myself to have a girl.  I may have even prayed on it.

I sat in my radiologist office thinking that God would be good to us, that little bean we saw on our last ultrasound would start to form girl parts, or lack of boy parts, or whatever.  My radiologist patiently pointed out all healthy grown parts of my fetus, " This is your baby's kidney. It's healthy kidney. This is your babies heart.  Very strong.  This is your babies penis...."

What?  Ok. So... huh?  So, I'm having another boy. I guess it's just all odds. Roll of the dice.  Probability.  We have no control.  No one upstairs is "listening."  So, my first thought when I was told I was going to have another boy was: "There is no God."

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This all makes me sound a lot more disappointed than I was. I mostly felt sorry for my husband who had his heart set on a girl.  I had actually come to love the idea of boys.

When you tell friends you are pregnant with a boy, you get a lot of  "Oh, that's wonderful!" And then a whispered almost conspiratorial, "You know, boys simply adore their mothers."

And I have to say it's true.  I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions, but it seems that girls often have complicated and even competitive relationships with their mothers, but sons simply put their moms on some kind of an irrational pedestal   They are protective and admiring and unconditionally loving to their moms.  Want to touch a nerve?  Tell a man a "your mama" joke.

Right now it's terrific. I'm adored from all corners of my family.  My babies want nothing more in life than to snuggle with their mother and run to her to make it all better when anything goes wrong.

But I'm starting to think about the future.  Soon enough, those tiny legs are going to stretch out into sinewy gangly boy legs, Adam's apples will emerge, voices will lower, hair will sprout, and I'll be surrounded by little men.  By testosterone and acne and competitiveness.  By people who are into things I cannot relate to, like video games and boobs. So, while they'll still be "in love" with their mama, their mama might start to feel a little estranged from their world.

At that point, I suppose I'll be lonely, even achey for some female energy in the house.  I'll be outnumbered, outvoted, out-manned. There won't be anyone interested in talking at length about their budding romances.  There won't be anyone not disgusted by my tampons.  

But we won't be a having any more children so I suppose I need to make my peace with this uncomfortable prospect.  Lots of women do.

My high school boyfriend had all brothers and his mother was overjoyed by her sons' first girlfriends who finally brought some female energy to the household.  I know this because she said things like "I'm overjoyed to have some female energy in the house!"

There were a bunch of mothers of all boys in the neighborhood. You probably knew the type.  They hungered for a girl to talk about things like Hollywood gossip and how piggish their sons were.  They took some surrogates under their wing, maybe even took them shopping.  They'd lurk around the kitchen table where the kids were gathering and try not to appear desperate in their attempts at initiating some girl talk.

So, that's going to be me, surrounded by testosterone and desperate to impart the lessons I learned as a girl entering womanhood to anyone.  I'll be that aunt that my one niece can go to when she doesn't want to tell her parents something.  I'll be that mom that girlfriends can confide in. I'll have that house that my sons' friends want to gather in.  Because while I can't have my own girls, I can have yours.  Keep your daughters close.


33 comments:

  1. We found out, too, for the same reasons. The first time around my husband was set on a boy - and we had a girl. The second time around he loved our girl so much he decided he wants only girls - and we had a boy. It took a long time to sink in, that we were really having a boy. In fact, our son is now 13 months old and it's still sometimes a little hard to believe. :) So it was definitely the right choice for us to find out, so we started processing those emotions before he was born and not in the hospital when they cut the cord. We love our boy, but it's definitely good that we had the time to prepare for him first. :)

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  2. You are so funny and I love that Caleb had a pink crib. We didn't find out with our first but we moved from Zambia to Malawi when I was pregnant with my second. We wanted to find out if we should move our baby girl clothes or donate them and were told at the ultrasound that we were definitely having a boy. In fact the ultrasound tech got really frustrated that we couldn't see the parts she was pointing out. Right before the birth the baby was breech so they couldn't confirm but we were pretty shocked when our daughter arrived. Her middle name means surprise and she wore a lot of blue when she was tiny. Someday we'll have to meet in person and borrow each other's kids for a while.

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  3. Kimb-

    Just wait until Caleb and Emmett turn 6 - there is nothing like a 6-year old boy's love and adoration for his Mom.

    Before you guys were born the nurses kept telling us we were having two boys and a girl based on the fetal heart tones (You have seen the ultrasound pictures; they are pretty primitive by today's standards). I so believed it, that when the nurses would say, "What did you have?", it took me about two days to change my answer from two boys and a girl to two girls and a boy.

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  4. My hubby has three brothers -- in fact, until the 2007 when my daughter and our niece were born, it had been 56 years since a girl was born into my mother-in-law's family. My mother-in-law is THE BEST, I just adore her. She dotes on my niece and our daughters (we went boy (7), girl (5), twin girls (19months)).

    We, too, found out with all of ours because of the "girl curse." Actually, we weren't planning to find out with our third since we had one of each and all the gear for each, but we decided that the surprise of twins was surprise enough, LOL!

    I don't know if it is because he was first or because he's a boy, but my son and I are closer than I am with any of his sisters. He's my homebody and would rather hang with me than anyone. My 5 year old daughter wants to go everywhere with everyone, but my son wants to stay in my nest right now. I don't mind at all.

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  5. My first child almost 21 years ago was a girl. I love her dearly, but she's really hard on her mama.

    When I got pregnant last year, my first desire was to have a boy. I'd always heard that boys love their mama. And I got my wish. It will be fun to see how different they are as they continue growing up and how alike.

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  6. Love the pink crib! I also have two boys. I also wanted a girl. I think it's natural. But of course, I wouldn't trade them for anything! If I ever had a third (which I won't), I might even wish for a boy now that I'm a boy expert ;) We'll just have to get our girl energy elsewhere (even my dog is a boy...)

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  7. I found out because well... I'm nosy! I figure - whenever you find out, it is a surprise. But the earlier surprise is one that you can prepare for. I have a little girl and now we have another. It would have been NICE to have one of each but I am ok. I am sad for my husband though because he would have liked a boy. He's always surrounded by women but it is what it is!

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  8. I laughed out loud at the last 2 lines. Beautifully written, as always!

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  9. I thought the second was going to be a girl... right up until I pulled him up to look. A fun club though, the mom's club of two sons!

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  10. YOu are so right how everyone tells boys' mamas that boys adore their mamas. I guess I hope that's true, but it's so weird to say. I love this piece.

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  11. I love this. And I'm so there with you. My husband and I are trying to get pregnant now. I've always wanted a girl. Thn today I thought, what if I only have boys? I'll be like you- the cool aunt. There for my son's girlfriends. I love that. Great post.

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  12. I am the oldest of three girls, my mom is the youngest of three girls, my grandfather had six sisters, my dad has a sister, of my nine first cousins, only two are boys (and one of those boys has a twin sister), and my sister just had her first baby - a girl. We are positively swimming in estrogen in my family. My sister is pregnant again, and we are all speaking in hushed tones saying things like "what if it's a boy?" We would all be perfectly thrilled with that, of course, it's just that none of us know quite what to do with a boy!

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  13. I love your last line. I'm glad I had a girl first, because I really did want one. But I was kind of excited to have a boy this time. It will be interesting to see how they're different.

    That comment about boys loving their mama intrigued me. Part of the reason I wanted a girl was because I thought a mother always has her daughter, but you lose a son to his wife.

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    1. You're so right. I'm actually irrationally worried about when my sons get married and have kids. Their wives will be calling their own mothers to talk about child rearing in ways that my sons probably won't. But that's all odds. Who knows what my future reality will be - daughter in laws who are closer to me, very involved sons, hell, son in laws who come to me for advice and friendship. Who knows? I suppose it's waste of energy worrying about ALL this stuff. ; )

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  14. I have a 4 yr old girl. She's a girly girl and even though I am not at all girly I am thrilled. Since I never expected to have any kids I would have been delighted with a boy, but now I can't imagine it. I did not know the sex before she was born. I had a dream that I was having a girl and I did. But who can say - 50/50 chance the dream was correct. :) I love your last line. Keep your daughters close.

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    1. 50/50 chance, true, but I still wish I had better intuition about these things. Other people seem to be able to "sense" the gender. You can give yourself credit for that! ; )

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  15. My aunt had 4 boys in the 1950s and 60s, before ultrasounds. She was so upset that the last child was a boy that she named him Aaron, the first name in the book.

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    1. Woah! At least she didn't name him Jessica. ; )

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  16. I couldn't get used to the fact we had a boy for ages with my first - long after he was born. I'm so glad we found out beforehand, or I'd probably still be weirded out (he's four). And then if course with my daughter I was equally non-plussed. A girl? What do you do with girls?

    A run up is always good.

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    1. I think we probably don't know what to do with either. And then when their personalities come out... It's more "what do I do with a high energy neurotic?"

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  17. Hahaha. I good female role model is good...and moms of boys seem to have less drama in their lives!

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  18. My mom always said that same thing about little boys! I have two little girls, who will be showing up at your house in about 8 years. ;)

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  19. I have two boys and a surprise on the way. I totally understand your wanting to just enjoy and not have a potential looming disappointment on the way, but we wait to find out. I was scared I was having a girl with the first and so my way of getting on top of the disappointment was to convince myself I was having a girl so I would be on board with it just in case. About two weeks before I had Sawyer I swear I was hit with this realization like a ton of bricks: it's a boy in there. And it was. (Ps-the reason I didn't want a girl first has to do with a lot of weird and personal stories and a lot of people meddling. Long story.) Now with two boys, I love it and am happy with whatever comes next, boy or girl. My boys right now say they will grow up and marry me and want to be close to me at all times. I don't coddle them into momma's boys, but enjoy those moments because I know they'll soon be gone!

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    1. I love your self reverse psychology! I do the same thing. And you're right - I'm going to cherish this precious tiem with my little boys who think I can do no wrong. I know that will change...

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  20. I really enjoyed reading this. The whole piece was so thought-provoking for me. I've felt a lot of the same things you have.

    Before finding out about my firstborn, I dreamed that they told us he was a boy, and in the dream, I was disappointed... but then, in real life when we found out he was a boy, I wasn't. When we found out that the next pregnancy was a boy too, part of me was so excited for there to be two brothers, but part of my was sad that I'd probably never have a daughter, because... what if we tried again and ended up with three boys? Yikes. I also anticipated feeling outnumbered.

    Then, my second son was stillborn. And now, we have a daughter. Life is weird sometimes.

    I was quite close with my boyfriend's mom in high school/university (she had two boys and I know she felt "out-manned"). I'm still friends with their family and she's thrilled that they're both now married and there's plenty of female energy around. :)

    Sorry to ramble on in your comments... But thanks for your perspective!

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    1. I'm so glad that this resonated for you. And no worries about rambling - I think my whole post was struggling to find a point, so I'm clearly quite comfortable with rambling. ;) Nice that your dream seemed to absorb some of the possible disappointment for you. Funny how dreams can do that.

      So, I tried to read your post this week, but I kept getting an error. Are others having that problem?

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  21. I don't think this piece could come at a better time!
    I'm expecting baby three in less than three weeks. Already with two little girls, I have been bombarded with various comments. "Going for the boy for your husband?" often with a wink and a nod. "Oh, I do hope it's a boy!", "Three should be the lucky charm!".
    But honestly, while I lie through my teeth and say, "Just want healthy and happy", I'm actually kind of hoping for another girl. More so the logistics, we 'get' girls. We have the clothes, the toys, the stuff.
    Of course, I don't doubt if they announce "It's a boy" in the delivery room, I'll be just as head over heels as I was the past two times, but I also think there might be a twinge of disappointment at the loss of the idea of three girls.

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    1. I totally know what you mean. I really did fear that twinge of disappointment. But I also know that it would have lasted about 4 seconds. It's good I think to give yourself a positive spin on either gender I suppose - if it's a girl, like you said, you know them, get them, have the gear. If it's a boy, you'll have a more diversity in experience in your child rearing, and likely unending adoration. ; ) Congrats and I hope these final 3 weeks aren't too painful! I'm really excited for you!!

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  22. mother of two boys, now 8 & 12. I love them more than I thought possible and even so, am lonely for a girl (even a teen-age girl, and that's saying something). But here's my plan: one of them will marry an orphan girl who wants a mom, and the other will be gay, so I will always have a shoe-shopping, ironic eyebrow-wiggling companion. That's my plan, anyway. And as we know, our plans for our kids ALWAYS work out.

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    1. You're hilarious!! I love your plan, and might have to adopt it myself. And then I'll watch as it's undone.

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  23. The pink crib picture is so great! And I loved the honesty in this post. Yes, we all say as long as it's healthy, and ultimately, I would not give my children up if they had been the other sex, but yes, I had hopes too. So few parents would admit this, like it would make us bad moms or something. It doesn't. I would be happy to have my daughter hang out with you and the boys. :)

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  24. This made me think about one of my friends, who has four daughters. She did not find out what she was having beforehand for any of them. She "felt" that she was having girls with the first three, so when she "felt" that the fourth one was a boy, she and her husband went with it. They didn't have a girls's name chosen as back-up or anything. She told me it was quite comical when the doctor announced "It's a girl!" and she and her husband both said, "What?"

    However, I'm enjoying my teenage son more than I thought I would, and enjoying my almost teenage daughter differently.

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