A sad fact about many cultures around the world is that boys are valued over girls. This ideal stems from ancient traditions of boys ultimately inheriting land and caring for their elder family members. In these cultures, it is common for parents to be disappointed when discovering their new baby is a girl. Some couples keep trying for a son, while others in poorer areas have to make due and hope their daughter will someday marry into a wealthy family that will take them in and support them.
I do not live in such a culture. Yet anytime complete strangers notice my husband and me out with our three daughters in tow, they have the audacity to ask if we’re going to ‘try again for a son’. Now, I think these folks are good-intentioned in their inquisition and mean no harm, and thankfully, my daughters are still too young to understand the implication of what is being asked, but it still cuts me to the quick. Perhaps I truly think every man wants a son; or else everyone around him thinks he does.
If my husband does want a son, at least he’s been courteous enough not to say so. When I first met him, he wasn’t much of a ‘man’s Man’. He didn’t really care about sports, cars, or fishing. Now he likes all three, much to my dismay. I remind him often that I didn’t sign up for this as he spends four hours every Sunday watching football. His relatively new interests make me wonder if he wishes he had a little Junior by his side sharing in the festivities, but I try to give him more credit than that. I’d hope that he’d want a son for far less shallow reasons than having a sports buddy.
Before I found out my first baby was to be a girl, I did hope for a son. My relationship with my own Mother had been so strained for years that I didn’t feel equipped to parent a daughter, or at least not to have a healthy relationship with her. After my first daughter was born, I realized she was all I ever wanted and needed and that she came into my life as a form of redemption. Now I could participate in a healthy Mother/Daughter relationship if I so chose, even if I was playing the opposite role this time around. For the record, becoming a Mom mended my relationship with my own Mother and now we’re the best of friends.
My heart leaped for joy the second and third time I was pregnant and the doctor announced I’d be having a girl after performing my ultrasounds. Reveling in the euphoria of the moment, I’d glance over at my husband to try to read his innermost thoughts, and was relieved to see that he seemed happy each time. When I’d ask him later if he was disappointed, he would answer, platitudinously, that he just wanted ‘a healthy baby’.
Perhaps I’ll never know if my husband wants a son and maybe he doesn’t even know himself. Any mention of adopting a child in the future, whether it be a boy or a girl, is rejected as a possibility. Truth be told, I’d choose another girl, but I’d let him decide just to see who he would select. Presently having three young kids who suck up all my time and energy may skew my perception of the future, but as they grow, maybe my husband and I will both change our minds.
As for my three daughters, I adore having them. Not because I like to dress them up, though it is fun and they are mighty cute, but because I get to teach them how to navigate this crazy world as a female. My husband also plays a significant role in their self-perception and level of confidence whether he realizes it or not. The traits he portrays to his daughters are the same that they’ll seek in a future husband. I’m not sure there is a more important job a man could occupy.
So why do people insist to ponder if trying for a son is in order? What is it about having a boy that people find so necessary? I cease to wonder. I feel no void in our lives and can’t comprehend what the addition of a son would do to make everything right with our world. Surely I’d love a boy if I had one and would treat him equally to his sisters, but I simply can’t imagine what life would be like.
As I inevitably suffer countless more inquiries into my future son-producing endeavors, I’ll continue to answer as I always have…that I love having my girls and we’re done. The interrogators will look sympathetically over at my husband as if to express silent sorrow for the exclusion he must feel being the only male in the house. I’ll continue to be incredulous at their reactions. My husband will continue to feel whatever it is he feels but refuses to tell me, leaving me to speculate incessantly about the whole subject. And my girls will hopefully never catch on that this world, with all its advancements, still puts boys on a pedestal. I can only hope it all turns around.
As my daughters grow up and go their own way, my husband and I will be left with an empty nest. As daughters often do, they will stay closely in touch with us both and come around often to visit. Rumor has it that boys grow more distant from their parents as they marry and start a family of their own. Perhaps my husband, if he ever did want a boy, will see the benefit of having had all girls. He states he isn’t sentimental in the least, but I’m convinced that when he watches our beautiful daughters play, he knows his world is complete.