FamilyLife

What’s your flavour?

c65b031494943e5f8d322ad4fca91b18The other day, a friend was congratulating me on being pregnant. Shortly followed by “I bet you want another girl, don’t you? I was so relieved to have girls. Boys are just so loud and messy.”  (In fairness, she has three girls, so boys must feel like another country.) A father of two girls said much the same – he was ‘relieved’ when they found out the second was another girl. Someone else commented, “Well, you’ve got your girl. You must want the boy now.” (What? Like I’m buying bookends?) Another pregnant friend told me that was a bit disgruntled that her second was a girl.

I think I get it. The unwritten rules state that it shouldn’t matter; you ‘just want the baby to be healthy’. Unofficially – it seems like most of us have a preference. Even if it’s a ‘well, one of each would be nice’ (“the full set” as my husband calls it, as though we’re talking about salt and pepper shakers).  It seems the norm to crave one ‘flavour’ over another. Many women I know evinced a preference for a girl with their first pregnancy (a case of stick with what you know?), then hankered after the opposite when pregnant with their second.

Full disclosure: I have a three-year-old girl and when I was pregnant with her, I was convinced she was a boy (even though I could more easily see myself with a girl). This time, when I first discovered I was pregnant, I simply assumed the baby was a girl at first. Until recently, when I’ve started thinking what it would be like to have a little man of our own about the place. (Pretty darn cool, I reckon.)

In fact, I always thought that I would be the one who ‘got’ my girl (because we share a sex), but it’s my husband who has had a more intuitive understanding of her and what makes her tick. (They look alike, share many character traits – at times it as though she is a small, feminine version of him. At the very least, I know exactly what he would look like wearing a hair bow.) I’ve had to learn to read her – am still learning, every day. So perhaps a boy would be more like me?

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A wise friend – a mother of one daughter – relayed how she has been told that you might crave having a girl, and adore your daughter; but fall in love with your son. I can certainly attest that all the little boys I know are in love with their mamas. I had the only girl in my NCT group – and would watch as the boys gazed adoringly at their mamas, wanting only their presence to be complete. My daughter was born with Elusive Party Syndrome – and was constantly looking around, checking she wasn’t missing out on any thrilling action. Boys are also hugely affectionate. Alex, a mother of three boys, attests that “my boys are the most beautiful wonderful boys in the world and no girl would be better than them”. (This is true. I not-so-secretly hope my girl will marry one of them. Surely, there’s a chance?)

Alex also notes that, despite the constant stream of media thought about ours being a misogynistic society, “Since having boys, I really do think there’s prejudice about them: boys are messy’, ‘boys are dirty’. They’re never celebrated. The fact that, generally, they’re more affectionate, more cuddly, more loving, less manipulative than girls – that’s not really mentioned”. She alludes to the ever-wonderful Caitlin Moran, who recently wrote a column which made me cry (she has a knack of doing this – because so writes with such truth and SO brilliantly) about her brothers – how wonderful they are; how sweetly they behave to her two daughters. (She is exactly right: my brother’s tenderness with my baby daughter makes me well up just thinking about it.) “The chord it struck me,” writes Alex, “was that she said she always smiles at teenage boys ‘because no-one ever smiles at teenage boys’ – and it’s so true. I think boys are badly maligned in Western society.” (But this is a subject for another post; it deserves space of its own.)

The little boys I know are by and large utterly gorgeous. Sweet, affection, hilarious, smart, straightforward. I would be delighted (and honoured) to have one of my own.  It would open my eyes and enrich my world. If not, I shall still be the luckiest mama in the world; I shall simply have to borrow my friends’ boys every now and then – just to get a fix.

What about you? Did you have a preference? Did you suffer from ‘gender disappointment‘? If you felt that you would be a ‘better’ mother of boys or girls. If you are a mother of boys and take issue with what Mumsnet call ‘SMOG’s’ (Smug Mothers of Girls), or sweeping generalisations about the male of the species. Or vice-versa: perhaps you think the ‘son and heir’ mentality still rules. We’d love to know what you think.

[A late addendum: Yes, we know how lucky we are to have our children. Every single day.]

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Images: Simply Divine Creation; Xo Emma Nicole; DolceRandy

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Jemima
    March 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I wanted a girl so much that when my third child was another boy I cried at the scan. How could I do that when the scan had shown a beautiful, healthy baby? I actually wanted my fourth child to be a boy because I felt it would make my family complete. I cried when my sister had a girl because I knew a daughter was something I would never have, but actually I have everything I could ever want, four divine boys who are best friends to each other and who I would not change for the world. Perhaps we get what we are meant to have or perhaps it is only after having a child that you realise that you have been given the best prize in the world, whether it is a girl or a boy.

  • Reply
    style at every age
    March 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I have three daughters aged 25,23, 21 and a boy of 13. I broke my heart when I had my scan and they said I was having a son. No more dressing up little girls in beautiful clothes, instead a boy for jeans and baby Timberlands (at the time). I have to say from the moment he was delivered and the midwife walked off with him I was calling that I wanted him and from the moment I first held him, it was a love affair no different in stature to that for my girls. He has never been one to jump on the furniture or fall from a tree as I also envisaged, but a complete and utter joy in my life. x

  • Reply
    shelley
    March 17, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    You have literally just spoken my thoughts. I have one of each, and when I was pregnant with my 1st desperately desperately wanted a girl, and like yours, she has literally been miss independent from birth! She walked at 81/2 months and still now at 6 does everything her way! I battle with her constantly whereas my husband just ‘gets’ her and she too is the female version of him! When I got pregnant with my 2nd I presumed it would be a girl as I saw myself as a mummy to girls. I then had my boy! And he is, I think, much more like me! He is SO easy going, so loving, he’s not messy or dirty he just literally adores me and is magnificent. At 3 he now tells me how beautiful I am and how much he loves me…..I have to beg Daisy (my girl) for this info! I had never imagined myself with a boy, but, they are every inch as good as a girl, even the clothes I love. I do wonder, however, if he is chilled because I was a chilled mummy with him? I believe we are so different with our 2nd child, and (if) you have another girl, she could be very different to your 1st.
    xx

  • Reply
    Natasha
    March 17, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    These are such lovely, thoughtful comments, You are so right that we probably do get the children we are meant to have. And yes – our children are like winning first prize. (And I must also admit that dressing little girls is part of the charm of having them! And – yes – my girl is gloriously independent and fiercely loving.)

    But what I love most is how everyone falls in love with their boys. Their babies.

    Natasha x

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