I don’t know why, but I always assumed I’d be a mom to boys. Maybe because I have 4 brothers who I’ve generally gotten along with well. Or maybe because I have uncles who were teenagers when I was born, and therefore teased me mercilessly with activities such as “cutdown,” a game where I would run past the couch where they were sitting while they threw pillows at my ankles, Frisbee-style, to see who could get me to wipe out first. This sort of thing tends to toughen you up a bit, and become familiar with the male psyche early on. I’ve always had male friends, even in elementary school. In high school, my mother was completely perplexed by my hanging out with a guy friend, who was not my boyfriend, and never would be (okay, one or two of them turned out to be gay, but still). And I’ve always had guy buddies at work. None of this is to say that I don’t get along with women; I do. My closest friends have always been and still are women. And I’ve never been a tomboy, either, despite looking the part there for a while as a skinny, 6’0” seventh grader. I just “get” guys, in a way that a lot of women don’t. A woman I used to work with told me once that I had a “male sense of humor.” I don’t know exactly what that means, except maybe that I can appreciate a good fart joke more than the average woman (which probably has at least 50% to do with why Bret married me).
Anyway. I didn’t have a preference as to whether we ended up with a girl or a boy, I just figured I would make me a really good mom of a boy. And then Lauren arrived. And I was, of course, delighted. (The first thing I discovered about what’s fun about having a girl is the clothes. Holy moly, do they make some cute clothes for little girls. I have completely transferred my interest in fashion to Lauren’s wardrobe.)
I have known people who were expecting a child and hoping it was a boy – their reasoning being that “boys are easier.” I don’t know exactly what this is supposed to mean, but I think it comes down to periods and hormones and “Oh, God, what if she gets pregnant?” I don’t know why they don’t think that’s a problem if you have a boy. They think girls are moody or mean or prone to drama. Yes, some of them are (or all of us are, some of the time). But so are boys (see above: four brothers). And I think it’s incredibly sexist to assume a girl will be “harder” to raise than a boy. Boy, girl, doesn’t matter; it’s the individual kid’s personality, not the gender, that makes him or her “difficult.”
One thing I’ve discovered about mothering a girl is that the world is more open for girls – what’s available to them in a socially acceptable way is broader than it is for boys. (I’m not saying it’s right that boys are often discouraged from pursing activities or interests that are traditionally those of girls, I’m just saying that’s the way it is.) Girls can play dolls and wear pink one minute and the next be sweaty and grimy on the soccer field. I love being able to expose Lauren to a whole world of possibilities – bugs and hair clippies, being a doctor for Halloween and loving new shoes, playing sports and playing kitchen.
I think I was given a girl, in part, because there’s something I’m supposed to learn about myself along the way. Something that I wouldn’t learn if we had a boy. I don’t know what that is yet, but I’m enjoying the journey so far.