During the first stages of my pregnancy, family members -who are always the first to know- couldn’t keep mum about their desire for a girl. As for me? Did I have a preference? I would lie if I said I didn’t. There was a secret preference for a boy. I absolutely love being a mother to a boy and sort of wanted to keep to what I know and am good at.
But above all I wanted another child. Not a boy. Not a girl. Just another baby.
Unfortunately it seems most people have a different opinion when it comes to expecting a baby and its gender. And they’ll express it no matter what.
‘You know, boys tend to stray from their mothers when they’re older.’
‘I would have preferred a girl.’
‘Everyone’s having boys.’
‘Better luck next time.’
And the most popular of responses: ‘Well now you’ll definitely have to go for number three.’
To say I was -and continue to be- shocked by peoples’ reactions to the news of my baby’s gender would be an understatement.
Some of my closest and dearest girlfriends were the only ones to congratulate me with a smile on their faces.
I cried that day. Not just because of these unexpected comments but because something else was knocked into me: I may never have a daughter. Later that night when I tried to explain to papa why I was upset despite ‘wanting’ a boy I said that it felt like I was mourning a relationship I would never have. The mother-daughter relationship. Of course I always imagined having a girl. What woman doesn’t? I imagined painting her nails, teaching her how to pluck her eyebrows and how to say ‘no’ to boys. I saved favourite clothes I would give to her when she’s older.
These thoughts had not occurred to me between the moment we were told ‘It looks like it’s a boy’ and when we began telling family and friends. None of this was relevant when I was hoping for another baby. And thankfully I am smart and strong enough to realise that it still isn’t.
Now, more than ever, I understand that we live in a society of gender stereotypes and ridiculous media-influenced conceptions. And it’s not just the older generation. People my age have the same narrow-minded opinions. It saddens me a little.
Soon after I couldn’t stop thinking of friends and family with children of the same gender. I tried hard to remember if I had ever been so insensitive when they were expecting, if it mattered to me what gender their child was, if it made any difference TO ME.
What is more, I can’t help but wonder if reactions would be the same if I was expecting a second girl? I wonder if the importance of raising a strong, independent and confident woman in today’s society is the reason we are reacting to boys in this way? If it is so then I say: How equally if not more important is it to raise men who are gentle, compassionate and confident? Men who have great respect for these women? Men who will stand by their wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers unruffled by the stereotypes of today?
As I sit here with my growing belly thinking of all this I feel strong and privileged. I feel privileged to be a mother of boys. I feel privileged to be a mother.
Have you experienced similar reactions to a pregnancy? I would love to hear about it.