Written by Love Isn’t Enough co-editor Sarah
So tomorrow is my second trimester ultrasound and I am excited, but really nervous…and not just because tomorrow is the day when they will let me know if everything is looking anatomically okay with Baby. Tomorrow we could find out Baby’s gender and, like it or not, that has some big implications for me, personally.
Let me start out by saying that I really, honestly, one-hundred percent DO NOT CARE whether Baby is a boy or a girl.* My husband does not believe me, but I mean it. I used to think that I really, really wanted a girl and that if had a second boy I would be really disappointed. But somewhere during my son’s first two years of life I realized that I didn’t care anymore. I don’t need to have a little girl to feel like I can identify with my child. I know why I thought I wanted a girl. I thought that I’d be able to understand a girl better. That I’d be better able to relate to a daughter and that we’d have more of a bond than I would have with a son. I have a sister who is close in age so I know what families with girls are like; they are familiar to me. However, after having a boy I realize: you never fully understand your children. They are unique individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and agendas (yes, my son has an agenda…and if you met him you’d know exactly what I mean). Boy or girl, I’m not sure I’d ever really know why my son does what he does. He’s often a mystery to me. Other times, I see so much of myself in him that I can’t help but laugh when he throws his blocks in frustration because he can’t line them up in a perfectly smooth-edged tower. He comes by that temper honestly! So, basically, I realize now that no matter which gender my child happens to be, I will always be able to relate to them and to bond to them…and there will always be times that they leave me scratching my head. And that’s okay. In fact, I’m kind of excited by the prospect of having two boys because then I’d be able to delight in how different and unique they are without attributing it to gender differences.
Actually, if I’m really being honest with myself I’ll admit it: I’m now a little scared to have a daughter. Okay, so not scared per se, but I am intimidated. In the last two years I’ve spent lots of time reading up on anti-racist parenting, anti-sexist parenting, and raising children of color and I’m a little worried about how I will be able to provide a positive sense of self to my black/biracial daughter. I mean, my son has my husband (not to mention lots of other male relatives and friends) as a model of a smart, strong man of color. Although my daughter would have my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, dozens of cousins, family friends, and neighbors as models of strong, intelligent women of color in her life, there will be no black/biracial role-model present for her in the home. I’m sure at some point in her life she’ll feel like I can’t relate to her and that I don’t understand what life is like for her…the sad thing is that, unlike most teenagers that feel that way about their parents, she will probably be right. Of course I know what it is like to move through this world as a woman, but I have no idea what it is like to be a woman of color. Now, I know that this is not uncommon in families and that we (my husband and I) can work to overcome this obstacle in our parenting, but I have to be honest and say that it worries me. It is what it is and I will have to think on it more if I find out tomorrow that I am, indeed, having a baby girl.
Plus (and this is really shameful), I think I might lose sleep over a little girl’s hair. I mean, I already agonized over when to cut, how to cut, how to wash and comb, and how and if I should style my son’s hair…and his hair has only reached a maximum of maybe three inches. Hair politics being what they are (complicated), I have no earthly idea how I will navigate that with a little girl when the time comes. I can’t exactly cut most of her hair off like I did with my son.** To make matters worse, my husband could not possibly care less about hair (he’s bald) and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law live in Virginia so they aren’t around to give me any advice. Crap. Again, not the end of the world, but a consideration for me when thinking about boy vs. girl.
There are other things that I am thinking about: how to avoid really frilly and over-the-top clothing if Baby is a girl, how I can delicately refuse to put a hair bow band on the baby’s head if Baby is a girl, making sure my older son doesn’t have to deal with any “now you’re the big brother and you have to be responsible” talk, and coping with any disappointment from family members who (all) hope that Baby is a girl (this last part will really upset me). What about you, readers? Did you have a preference for a boy or a girl? If so, why? Would you be happy, indifferent, or upset if you had only boys or only girls?
*Note: I do realize that there are other alternatives to the boy/girl dichotomy; however, I can’t honestly state that I know how I would feel about that until I’m in that situation.
** I guess technically I could, but I won’t. Mostly because I wouldn’t want to, but also because both sides of my family would probably hold me down and slap me silly.