When Ben and I announced our third pregnancy, we were met with the usual host of congratulatory responses.
And one particular sentiment I’ve heard over…and over…and over again, “I hope you have a boy.”
Family, friends, random strangers in the cereal aisle, it’s come from all sides. What’s been equally surprising is my visceral reaction to any variation of those words.
I feel this blog should be prefaced by you knowing that I do actively work to remind myself no ill is meant by the remarks. I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of others. The speakers are simply voicing a held sentiment; it could be as benign as any other comment, “You look good in red.” But, if I may, I’d like to invite you to listen to my point of view.
My eldest daughter is nearing age four, her younger sister just turned two. As a mother of two girls, here is a sampling of the comments I’ve received so far regarding my daughters:
- “I would never want another girl! Girls are so high maintenance!”
- “She’s going to cause you a lot of trouble when she gets older.”
- “Girls ask for too many things.”
- “Oh man, two girls!? That’ll get expensive!”
- “You have TWO girls?!? I bet your house is full of drama.”
- “Are you going to try for a boy?”
- “I bet you’re hoping for a boy to carry on the family name.”
- “Your family has too many girls, I hope you have a boy next to balance things out.”
I could go on, but I’ve tried to block as many of these comments from memory as I can. (And tried to ignore just as many gender reveal videos featuring a disappointed father over news that the new baby is female.)
*Thank you to Callie of Through Clouded Glass for commenting on my original post and helping me clarify these thoughts.*
I think these baby gender wishing comments are striking to me NOT because of the intent of the speaker, but because of all the baggage I know gender still carries in our world. I’m raising two, beautiful, independent girls in a culture that tells them their primary value is in their looks, and since they look good they better be careful because you don’t want to look too good because then you’re ‘asking for it’. I’m teaching my girls to work hard, knowing they’ll have to also fight to get equally compensated as their male counterparts in the workplace.
Knowing that context, I hope you’ll understand my inner bristle at the comment, “I hope you have a boy.” Though I KNOW it isn’t the intent of the speaker, to my ears it sounds like, “Your girls are okay and all, but your family really does need a boy. You can’t possibly be happy with just two girls. Girls are, you know, well…girls.”
I come from a strong line of Southern sass and Yankee moxie. I am prone to drawing hard lines, administering rash judgment, and mouthing off at every opportunity. But that is not the way I have learned Christ. As a Christian, which is my primary identity, I know I ought to be quick to hear and slow to speak. I ought to speak the truth in love. I ought to lay down my life (or thoughts) for the good of others. The refiner’s fire has been heating up in this pregnancy – for a number of reasons, and not just over whether my child will be born boy or girl. As it comes to receiving these comments, I’m making a conscious effort to acknowledge these opinions with a smile, while assuring thee person we would be thrilled with another girl or a boy.
Inwardly, I’m refining that answer even more. “I want a human being made in the image of God I can love unconditionally regardless of circumstance.” Because the reality is not all babies are boys, not all babies are girls, not all babies are happy, not all babies are healthy. But the unifying factor is they all carry the imprint of their Maker. Humans are made in the image of God, which means they are deserving of regard, love, respect, and worth.
I expect a few more boy-oriented gender comments before this pregnancy is over. This post has been a cathartic processing of the emotions which have built over the past 15 weeks. And I hope it has given you some perspective.
And to you, Baby Wilson #3, your Daddy and I want you to know that we love you for YOU. We cannot wait to meet you.