Coming to Terms with the Daughter I Never Had.

No more babies. At least, that’s what my husband and I have decided. It just makes sense. We aren’t young whipper snappers any longer, we both just celebrated our 35th birthdays this summer. We already have two wonderful boys that fill our lives plenty enough, thank you very much. B. and I are finally starting to dream about days without car seats, diapers, naps, and temper tantrums. Days filled with family trips and our two independent boys – and even maybe more time for just him and I. Plus babies cost money, a LOT of money. Another baby means a bigger house, a bigger car, three against two, and no booths at the restaurants. It’s still fairly realistic and affordable to travel with just two children. They can fit in the back of even compact cars (at least, for the next few years). There is no odd man out; they are each other’s best friend. And call me selfish but I’m feeling ready to do more than change diapers and push kids in strollers. Not to mention the fact that I’m too vain to get pregnant yet again (there would be no hope for the pooch then, let me tell you). Seriously, we’re good at a family of four. And how lucky we are.

But every once in awhile, I hear a small voice inside making a little racket. And as we come up to September - 6 years since I conceived my first born and 3 years since I conceived my second – I can’t help but think that THIS would be the time if we were to try for a third. Because you know what that little voice inside my head keeps whispering?

“You never had a daughter.”

I always wanted a daughter. Like so many women (women like me who are only 10 year old girls playing dress up in 35 year old clothing), I think back to the days when I planned for my daughter. I kept diaries and swore that my daughter would be able to understand that what she was feeling was what her mother went through too. I used to brush the hair of my dolls and imagine having a daughter’s hair to brush. I always loved ponytails, with the little bobble elastics, one on each side of her head, hair swinging to and fro.

I know. This sounds ridiculous. It really does. Because here’s the thing. What IS my longing for a daughter really about? Is it for giving T. and C. the little sister they always wanted? Hardly. Is it because we need more women in this world? Eh, women are cool, but that’s not why.

Having a daughter is ALL about me.

When I was first planning for a family, I wanted a little girl that I could dress up in white tights with the frills in the back over the diapers. I wanted a little girl with cute bows in her hair and fluffy dresses. I wanted a little girl so I could re-familiarize myself with the Barbie section of Toys R Us again. I wanted a little girl to go to chick flicks with. To shop with. To talk about boys and read diaries and get pedicures.

Isn’t this outrageous? But I’m on a roll, I can’t stop now.

I wanted a little girl to show my scrapbooks to because I KNOW she would care. I wanted a little girl to gab about first boyfriends and share Nancy Drew books with. I wanted a little girl so I could show her my wedding gown and maybe hope she’d even like it or maybe even (dare to dream) wear it someday. I wanted a little girl to pass on the cool hand-made Thai dresses of my mother’s, that I wore and she could wear. I wanted a little girl to explain that O.B. tampons work soooo much better than Tampax, and then be able to get her a hot cup of tea when she had cramps. I wanted a little girl who might discover the wonder and excitement of the same women’s college I went to. I wanted a little girl to call me first when she got engaged and then keep me by her side for support as she planned her wedding. I wanted a little girl that I could help with through a pregnancy and be there when she was pushing because she HAD to have me there, I would have been her best friend!

I wanted a little girl so I could see myself come back around again.

I wanted a little girl because I was selfish.

So there you have it.

And are those good enough reasons to play with the odds, try for another baby and hope for a girl? Um… you’ve got to be kidding me, a resounding: NO!

Because all of that falala and frippery I’ve listed above is NOT what parenting is about. Its what *I* wanted in a parent-child relationship. But even if I had had a girl, whose to say she would have given a rat’s ass about Barbies? And whose to say my sons won’t adore and appreciate my scrapbooks after all?

Parents so often push their dreams and hopes onto their children. Our children should do what we did. They should do it better. And then they shouldn’t do what we did at all, why haven’t they learned from our mistakes?

My sons have taught me to look for so much more in parenting. While I have a brother and I was well versed in such boy obsessions as Star Wars, fishing, and Lego’s growing up - having two sons has offered me a clean slate of sorts. I’m not a boy. I had no expectations for how mother-son relationship would go. I never pretended my dolls were boys and I honestly didn’t spend hours dressing my dolls in basic Ts and khaki shorts. Having a boy was nothing I expected and everything I should have ever hoped for.

And so, now as a parent of two boys, I have learned what parenting is really about. Not outfits, toys and lecturing to them about what I did as a child. But its rather about sleeping upright in bed with your feverish baby, its about catching your son as he leaps into the pool, its about hearing him love to read, its about the same turkey sandwich everyday and demands of “snuggews (snuggles) on the couwk(couch)”. And love, this endless reserve of  it; no matter what their choices, I’ve got their back. Heck, one of them could decide he DOES want to wear those cute stockings with the ruffles after all. Knock yourself out, kid. Whatever you want to do.

But I would publicly like to warn my sons now. Someday, a long long time from now in a galaxy far far away, if they do chose to marry and do chose to have a family and if one of those grandchildren of mine is a girl… oh, heads up. The scrapbooks, the diaries, and those hand-made Thai dresses will be resurrected out of moth balls and thrust upon that sweet little girl. The poor thing. Just you wait and see.

29 comments ↓

#1 susanlindgren on 08.12.08 at 3:29 pm

Yeah for you! great piece!

#2 Julie Pippert on 08.12.08 at 3:38 pm

It’s not crazy. I think we all gone through a “what won’t be” when the reality of “finished” closes the door, however voluntary it might be. It’s really understandable. We had to adjust to no more, no boys, etc. Great discussion of this.

#3 Corina on 08.12.08 at 3:43 pm

Beautiful piece. So true on so many levels…..

And, I have a girl. While occasionally she does play dolls or get barrettes in her hair, most of the time, i have to chase her down to comb her hair and she doesn’t like to sit and talk with me at all; she is just as independent as your boys sound.

#4 Elizabeth Channel on 08.12.08 at 4:56 pm

I enjoyed reading this.

Sometimes I long for a 4th child so I can breastfeed “just one more time” and still use the crib. But, like you, I know my family is complete as it is now.

#5 Allie on 08.12.08 at 5:37 pm

I tell myself, no periods, no prom dresses to pay for, and no special “wedding” savings account I have to add to each year.
And I’ve grown to appreciate Batman in a way I never thought I would have to…

RedHeadMom

#6 Florinda on 08.12.08 at 6:06 pm

Some of the things you said that really struck me:

“Having a daughter is ALL about me,” “I wanted a little girl so I could see myself come back around again,” and “Parents so often push their dreams and hopes onto their children. Our children should do what we did. They should do it better. And then they shouldn’t do what we did at all, why haven’t they learned from our mistakes?”

I think all of these things are very true, but some parents aren’t self-aware or honest enough (with themselves) to admit it. I really admire you for being able to recognize those elements in coming to terms with being “done” with kids. My sister has two boys as well, ages 8 and 5, and had to go through a similar process in accepting she wouldn’t have a daughter either.

Great, thoughtful post.

#7 Domestic Spaz on 08.12.08 at 9:02 pm

This was such a great entry.

You’re the next little fish, btw. :) http://slackermomof3.blogspot.com/2008/08/little-fish-announcement-time_12.html

#8 wyliekat on 08.13.08 at 9:27 am

I am beginning to believe that there’s an agent of Fate out there with a really twisted sense of humour. I always thought I’d be a better mother to boys. I’m not girly, I loathe Barbies (even did as a kid), would rather look at baby frogs than baby dolls and generally just assumed boys would suit my temperament better.

My sister, on the other hand, longed for a girl. Wanted a girl child with a fairly profound and deeprooted fanaticism.

I bet you can see where I’m going with this.

The child I birthed? Girl. The child I inherited shares in by way of my partner? Girl.

And, of course, my sister’s got three boys. Three.

I don’t know why it is that it works out that way. I know that I’m acutely and painfully aware of how dangerous the world is for innocent girls. I fear that I don’t have the skills to equip them for life in a way that doesn’t leave them warped – afraid of accomplishment, afraid of independence, afraid of their bodies, afraid of other women, afraid of men . . . there are so many ways to screw girls up. And I’m constantly thinking about it.

So yeah – here I am, internally a mother of boys with nary a one in sight.

I go back to my initial comment – there’s an agent of fate with a twisted sense of humour. And a serious need for a kick in the pants.

#9 Issa on 08.13.08 at 12:05 pm

Funny, but I wanted boys and got two girls. And they exceed everything I could have ever wanted and they’re nothing like I would have expected. Now I pregnant with a boy and I wonder what in the world I’ll do with one.

I guess it comes down to, they’re our kids, no matter what. But hey, like you said, there’s always granddaughters.

#10 Karen on 08.13.08 at 3:09 pm

Awesome post. As the mother of 3 boys, I really enjoyed reading it.

#11 Lisa on 08.13.08 at 4:05 pm

As a mom of three boys who is also done having babies, I can totally identify with your piece.
For me the “sadness” doesn’t come with not having a daughter, but being done with that part of my life. I do know that when I had baby boy number three, I felt as if my family was complete. The only time I have ever craved having a daughter is right around Easter when I see all the little girls in their cute little dresses and little bonnets. The truth of the matter is, if I were to choose to have another child, I’d want another boy. It’s what I love, it’s what I know, it’s what I’m good at.

#12 Holly at Tropic of Mom on 08.13.08 at 4:05 pm

This post is so beautiful and true. I used to wish for a girl, too, until I realized the exact same things you have laid out here. We didn’t find out the sex of our son before he was born, and if we get to have another child, we probably won’t then, either. And even though one of each would be wonderful, I would be supremely happy with two boys.

#13 Sarah on 08.14.08 at 7:25 am

Yep, I know I’ll be feeling all the same things if this one turns out to be a boy, but no matter what, we’re done with 2 also. That being said – now that I know the wonder of little boys, having another would be a gift as well.

I love the little frilly tights though. Nice picture.

#14 Starwoodgal on 08.14.08 at 10:04 am

I enjoyed reading your post today.

#15 In the Trenches of Mommyhood on 08.15.08 at 11:35 am

Found you thru the Mom Bloggers Club. This post resonated with me because I am the mother of 3 little boyz.

The girl I never had? Her name would be Lydia.

#16 ilinap on 08.21.08 at 4:26 pm

God, I hated those frilly tights as a kid! If we had a daughter her name would be Audrey (after Hepburn) Beth (after my husband’s sister who was killed in a motocycle crash 7 years ago). Alas, ain’t gonna happen, and I’m still gloriously happy with my two healthy, extraordinary boys. Look at it this way, no teen angst to live through.

#17 tcmom on 08.21.08 at 9:30 pm

I love reading these comments. Thank you for getting it!

#18 Your Hot SIL (not Meryl, you doofus) on 08.22.08 at 8:56 pm

Dude. Have you MET your nieces? Seriously. No ruffly butt, floofy dress, Barbie-lovin’ ladies are these.

And, also, I suspect that in a year or two, I will be more than willing to lend you a hormonal preteen girl for all your menstruation sympathy-related needs. Because we at “The Twelve” will be ALL FULL UP.

#19 azhita on 10.16.08 at 6:38 pm

Big hugs girl! I DID read this post when you first wrote it, but as I was/am going through the angst at the moment, couldn’t bring myself to comment. In some ways I just want this pregnancy to be FINISHED so I can completely deal with what will be, mourn if I have to, and move on.

#20 Amy on 09.01.10 at 10:38 pm

I think all of these things are very true, but some parents aren’t self-aware or honest enough to admit it. I used to wish for a girl, too, until I realized the exact same things you have laid out here. Thanks for the article you post.

#21 Rachel on 11.07.10 at 6:12 pm

I know the wonder of little boys, having another would be a gift as well. While occasionally she does play dolls or get barrettes in her hair, most of the time, i have to chase her down to comb her hair and she doesn’t like to sit and talk with me at all.

#22 Rachel on 11.11.10 at 2:11 am

And I’ve grown to appreciate Batman in a way I never thought I would have to. In some ways I just want this pregnancy to be FINISHED so I can completely deal with what will be.

#23 Brittany on 02.22.11 at 11:44 pm

This post is so beautiful and true. I used to wish for a girl, too, until I realized the exact same things you have laid out here. Thank you.

#24 Amy on 03.27.11 at 4:32 am

I really loved what you wrote, right up until that last line. My mother desperately wanted a second girl, and put so much pressure on me to give her the ‘daughter she never had’. I’m now pregnant with my second son, and I dread telling her- I found in her room a few days ago a secret stash of girl clothes and dolls, ready for my daughter.
Your son might also have sons- you need to be ready for this, please.

#25 tcmom on 03.27.11 at 6:41 am

Amy – Fantastic point about not counting on your sons to have daughters either. My brother (and my only sib) is about to have a second son so now we have 4 boys in our family and my father is baffled by how we’ve managed to do that. It’s funny, since I’ve written this post, I’ve made more peace with not having a daughter. I just know boys now, I adore having them and I realize there are lots of things we CAN do together – I shouldn’t limit what we do by gender but more by our interest. Anyway, glad you related, glad many readers have.

#26 Steven on 04.25.11 at 6:05 pm

I think all of these things are very true, but some parents aren’t self-aware or honest enough to admit it. The truth of the matter is, if I were to choose to have another child, I’d want another boy. It’s what I love, it’s what I know, it’s what I’m good at.

#27 Brittany on 04.28.11 at 5:37 pm

I don’t know why it is that it works out that way. I know that I’m acutely and painfully aware of how dangerous the world is for innocent girls. I fear that I don’t have the skills to equip them for life in a way that doesn’t leave them warped.

#28 Heather on 05.05.11 at 9:29 am

That was a great idea. I know that I’m acutely and painfully aware of how dangerous the world is for innocent girls. I fear that I don’t have the skills to equip them for life in a way that doesn’t leave them warped.

#29 MICA on 10.31.13 at 12:08 pm

I found this post at the perfect time. Today I found out I’m having a second boy and I feel guilty about the intense emotional reaction I had. Never thought I would start balling upon finding out the gender, especially when I’ve always said I only want a healthy baby and I mean that. I guess I always assumed I’d have a daughter in my life and the sudden realization that this will never happen is very hard. (We are done after two.) Thank you for sharing this post – it really helped me see the positive of two boys and most importantly calmed me down emotionally so I could walk into office without tears! (Damn pregnancy hormones).

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