Friday, August 12, 2011

Fears and Joys Exist with Either Gender

I'm 19-weeks along today!  Full term is considered anywhere between 38- to 42-weeks (most EDDs are calculated as 40-weeks from LMP) so I'm essentially at the midpoint of this pregnancy.  Crazy, right?  It seems like it was just yesterday that I saw that miraculous second pink line on Easter morning.  I'm trying so hard to savor each moment of this pregnancy because I'm very aware that it will likely be the last time that I'll ever have this experience.  I love this baby so much and the time really is flying!

In less than a week I will finally find out if I will need to purchase new baby clothes or if I can make do with hand-me-downs from my son.  I technically could find out right now, actually a few weeks ago, but I couldn't get in any earlier due to scheduling difficulties.  In my typical way of overthinking things, I've been pondering parenting each gender.  The word around the campfire is that it's impossible for my husband's family to yield girls, but the name dream I had two weeks prior to conception was definitely a girl's name and I find myself mentally calling this baby by that name.  Of course, I will be beyond thankful for either a boy or a girl and I pray every night for a healthy baby born at term.

My Thoughts on Boys
I wasn't sure that I'd be up to the task of raising a young man, but I believe that I was truly made to mother a son.  My son is a bright star in my life and I adore him.  He's my joy, my heart. 

I "get" how boys think and I think I have far more in common with males than females.  I certainly get along better with XY than XX.  I like watching sports, shooting guns, building stuff, taking things apart, and getting dirty.  My superhero and sci-fi geekery is well known and I'll pick an action movie over a rom-com (the gag-inducing chick flick) any day of the week.  I love sharing my love of all manly things with my son and our relationship is a perfectly comfortable fit.

Much as I like being one of the guys and mothering one, this mother does have fears about raising boys.  I worry that my soft tendencies will make him a wimpy doormat and I alternately worry that he'll become a bully.  I cringe at the notion of a predatory woman targeting him or of him becoming a predatory male.  I ache over the thought of a woman breaking his heart, cleaning out his bank account, moving away with his children (my grandchildren!), and otherwise hurting him in any way she can. . .unfortunately, our court system so heavily favors women that he'll be pretty much guaranteed an unfavorable outcome if he ever suffers the pain of divorce.  I so hurt over that last notion that I already find myself praying about his future wife - that she'll be lovingly raised and that she'll always be there for my son, his biggest cheerleader and greatest helper.  The flip side to that is that I pray he will be the kind of man who knows how to be lovingly considerate and that he'll easily inspire such devotion in his mate.

What upside do I see to mothering boys?  I think I've covered how well-suited I am to mother boys, but it's also that I would always be the queen of castle and I like being the only female in the house.  It sometimes seems to me that sons are closer to their mothers than daughters are though that relationship often appears to reverse sometime in adulthood.  I guess the bottom line is that I have a good track record now with mothering a little boy and I think I would be more comfortable to have a familiar experience by having a second son.

My Thoughts on Girls
Pink is my favorite color, but I am not a girly-girl.  I don't like frilly dresses, I think tea parties sound boring, I don't understand why screaming about bugs is more effective than simply squashing them, and I'm not generally a fan of fussy behavior.  If it weren't for my vagina, I'd wonder if I'm really a girl.

I like being the main source of estrogen in my house and I proudly wear my queenly crown, but it seems to me that the family dynamic changes significantly when a princess is added to the mix.  I have noted that some, not all, mothers and daughters have a bond that isn't one I want to have with a child of my own; they just aren't that close or loving with each other.  Two hormonal chicks in the house at one time generally is not a positive living arrangement.

Based on mother-daughter relationships I've observed, I fear that my own competitive nature would roar to life and perhaps an unspoken jealousy would begin to exist on my end at some point.  Females are so often mean to other females and I wouldn't want a child of mine to experience that special brand of girlish cruelty - from others or their own mother.

I believe that girls are sexualized at a far earlier age than boys and, perhaps as a result, girls are more likely to be sexually and/or physically abused in some fashion by their peers and by older people.  Unfortunately, abuse often negatively impacts victims in their relationships for years, even decades afterward, and a girl who has been abused will many times end up in what is essentially the same relationship with a new abuser.  The very thought of a child of mine being so wounded actually brings tears to my eyes because it's a lifelong injury and I don't think the healing is ever totally complete.

The upside I see to mothering a girl?  Obviously it's that you can support another woman, your own daughter, on her own motherhood journey.  Sure, your son may father children, but frequently that child's mother would rather have her own mother offer help, advice, and support.  In an ideal world, you would be more actively involved in the pregnancy, birthing, and raising of your daughter's children because usually women on their motherhood journey can count on their own mothers to be there for them.  I tell myself that I absolutely would be there for my daughter, no matter what. 

I guess I am afraid of the unfamiliar and I'm not sure that I have the history or ability to adequately mother a girl.  I have many friends who are wonderfully loving mothers to their daughters and I think it's possible to be the kind of mother I want to be if I observe and learn what girls need.

* * *

Do you have sons or daughters or both?  What joys did you find about mothering your children?  What concerns did you have about mothering either gender?  Were your concerns valid or did you find that they were totally unfounded?


  1. I was in the opposite situation when I was pregnant with my second- I had a girl, so I wanted another girl. I am not girly either (hello, I raise chickens!) but I enjoy being a woman and I enjoy the fact that I can choose- I can be girly or not, I can dress girly or not. I personally think women are lucky that way because we have more freedom to look/dress/act the way we want (I know that's not the standard opinion, though).

    And on your worries- I think every parent worries about all of those things with all of their children. All we can do is provide a stable, loving home life and set positive examples. Regardless of gender all you can do is show them, by your actions and that of your husband, how to treat people and how to stand up for themselves. Neither of these are gender specific.

    As I said, I wanted another girl. But I echo Megan's sentiment on FB- God knows what you need. God is sending you what you need, either way. I wanted a girl, but I can't picture my life without Oliver (as much as he completely exasperates me every day!). Maybe it's a second/youngest child thing, but while Izzy is my companion, my helper, my buddy, Oliver is the light of my life. It's not that I love him more, it's just that there has to be more love to balance out the amount of frustration he causes me:)

    But I'm not going to lie, there may be moments, at least at first, that you don't feel that way. You know how post partum hormones can be. For about the first four weeks I resented Oliver. Izzy and I had a good thing going before he was born- she was easy, we had a routine, I got everything done and still had spare time. Then he turned our life around. Obviously I got over that, and it was a mild feeling even then, I just want you to know that if you do have those feelings (or any negative ones) after the baby is born, they do NOT make you a bad mom and you are not alone in them.

    And so far as mothering them, there aren't as many differences as you may think in those first years. Boys have a shorter attention span and take longer to learn fine motor skills and language. But otherwise their needs are the same. And just because you have a girl doesn't mean she's going to be all frilly and pink- they tend to take after their mama's, at least a little. Izzy, for example, is a frilly pink girl, but she also loves to go outside and dig in the dirt, and she loves baseball. Bugs don't freak her out at all. She loves dragons and monsters and monster trucks and fantasy movies (Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings type) and haunted houses. A lot like me.

    I know it's hard not to analyze these things, and I do think many of them are worth reflecting on. But don't worry on them.

  2. Wonderfully insightful comment, Brandis. I'm finding that I can count on you to have a reasoned opinion on just about anything - awesome!

    I wasn't sure what reaction I'd get to writing these concerns down, but you and Megan certainly have eased my fears and made me feel more normal for having them in the first place. I suppose it is only natural to have the "second baby jitters."

  3. Your thoughts, concerns, and fears are totally normal. When I was pregnant with my first I wanted a girl, I didn't feel like I knew enough about guy things to raise a son. Of course the hubby was going to be there to help, but I was the one staying home and with the kid for 90% of the day. Anyhow, I found out I was having a boy and I will be honest there was a mini grieving period where I had to get used to the idea of having a son.
    Fast forward to 21 months later and I was in exactly the same place. As much as I had wanted a girl the first time, I wanted another boy the second time. I had figures out how to change boy diapers and avoid the "fountain", I had adjusted to guy stuff, I was in my groove ...and I was having a GIRL.

    In the end I love the way everything turned out my daughter has a big brother to irritate her, teach her things, and watch out for her. Boys and girls are different other than the whole indoor/outdoor plumbing. But more than that they just have completely different personalities, that may or may not have anything to do with their gender. My son is very much like me, stubborn, easily riled up and quick to hit the emotional wall. He and I butt heads a lot, but him and my husband get along with no problems at all. My daughter is far more personality like my husband, easy going, nothing really upsets her, very even tempered. She and I get along and relate better. I personally think it has more to do with their personalities than anything else. Eric and I get along so well for a reason, and that is the same reason we relate better to one of the kids than the other. Like I would never have chosen a partner jut like myself, we would have killed each other.

    I hope this doesn't read as I don't like my son, I do, I think he is the most awesome little dude out there. Perhaps I need to reflect more upon myself and figure out how to better approach him. My point, in a long round about rambling way, is that boy or girl you never know what you are going to get personality wise.


    Either way. Don't stress it. The gender is inconsequential. Each baby is different, no matter the gender. My husband is a very manly man, and I am also a very manly man... LOL

    I had my first son and he was so easy! Only fussed when he was hungry or wet, that was it. From about 7-8 weeks on, slept through the night. I would nurse him, kiss him, and lay him down in his crib, and he would babble himself to sleep, and then sleep for 10-12 hours. When I would hear other parents talk about how hard their babies were, I would secretly think "What the hell are you doing wrong? It's not that hard! You just feed them, change them, talk to them and put them down when they are tired and they never cry! You're doing something to make this harder on yourself." Of course I never had the huevos to say that out loud, and I'm thankful for that.

    And then I got taken down a notch. My second was a boy, too, but he was clingy, needy, fussy, gassy, and would NOT sleep unless nursing on me. The second this kid was not touching me, he would wake up shrieking. Now, anthropologically, I know this is a great response as far as evolution goes, but I was not ready for this.

    My daughter (third baby) was in the NICU for 10 days. I couldn't even breast-feed her for 4 or 5 days. I expected her to be weak and demure because of this, but my GOD! She is the rowdiest of them all, although she just turned two! She regularly beats up her older brothers, and takes no crap from anyone, including random kids on the playground, but most to my chagrin... me. When I am disciplining her, it is always a battle of wills. I win, but it is always a battle. As far as girlishness goes, she LOVES hair bows, dresses, and is OBSESSED with babies. She LOVES princesses, although I'm not sure she knows what a princess is because she doesn't watch many movies. But holy crap, just when I was getting into my super-boy-mom groove, she came along and threw me for a loop!

    But you just figure it out. And if -->I<-- can figure it out, so will you. I mean come on, I'm remedial as far as moms go, so you should do fine.

  5. @ Jenny - Very good point that gender doesn't necessarily impact personality development. The thought of having a prissy and frilly girl under my roof is exhausting because I just don't know how she'd fit in with the rest of us "guys."

    @ Mandi - I think you might be as manly as I am and I mean that as a compliment! I've often thought that my son was ridiculously easy (though it may just be those rose colored glasses I'm so fond of sporting) and I have wondered if #2 will be the one that turns all my hair grey. Eh, whatevs, I can just color that mess.

    Seriously though, I think the thing that has come across loud and clear from all comments on this post is that you just don't know what you're gonna get and the child's plumbing doesn't really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. As I said in the post, I'll be thrilled no matter what. . .I'm so eager to hold this sweet little one. :)