When my first daughter was born, my doctor had barely finished up her obstetrical duties before she told me, “If you want to try for a boy next time, come see me, and I’ll tell you what to do.” (Um, really?)
My husband and I decided just to try for a baby the next time and, thankfully, got one… a second daughter. We didn’t find out the gender ahead of time with either child, because it was a good surprise either way, as far as we were concerned. As opposed to, “Surprise! You need a new roof!” or “Surprise! You get to put in a new septic system instead of the kitchen cabinets you’ve been saving for!”
Upon my daughter’s birth, my doctor (the same one) announced, “It’s a girl” in a tone that suggested she had just delivered bad news rather than a healthy baby with a full head of hair so spikey, it was born 30 seconds ahead of the rest of her. And again, as my doctor hurried out of our birthing room, she told me, “If you want to try for a boy next time, come see me, and I’ll tell you what to do.”
Shortly thereafter, my husband and I decided that, for us, “family of four” had a nice ring to it.
When people inevitably asked if we were going to try for a boy, I usually told them, “No, we’re going to try for a goldfish instead.”
More than one kind-hearted soul looked at our adorable girls and said, “Now all you need is a boy, and you’ll have the perfect family.” I’d been around long enough and knew myself well enough to know that “perfect” wasn’t anything we were even going for. I understood the heart behind these comments, though: people who knew the joys of having boys wanted those joys for us. And I would have been thrilled to have had a son. I’m still holding out hope for stellar sons-in-law some day.
But when I look at my daughters, I don’t see “only” in the sense that anything is missing; I see “only” merely in the sense that both of the children born to my husband and me are of the female variety. I see what I have, not what I don’t have.
And what I have is wonderful.
I want to be careful to note that I am not implying that what I’ve experienced with daughters isn’t also true with sons, nor that all moms of daughters share this reality. This is just the kind of wonderful I’ve had for two decades and counting.
My 9 Kind of Wonderfuls:
- As a mom of daughters, I have chicks-in-residence who watch flicks with me my husband won’t touch.
- I have built-in fashion advisors who, when we’re out shopping together, will notice me trying to decide about a shirt or a dress and will tell me, “No, mom, you don’t like that.” (Right. That’s what I thought.)I have daughters who sometimes mother each other and sometimes even mother me.
- I have children whose “stuff” I understand, from black hair ties in bulk and vanilla body wash and polka dot anything, to hormones and mood swings and crying fits.
- I have offspring who can find things. I love my husband like crazy, and he is one of the all-time great human beings of the world, but if I’m ever lost, will someone please send my girls to find me? Especially if I happen to be located in the refrigerator next to the full gallon of milk.
- I have clothes-sharing partners so that when I’m deciding whether something is a good price or not, I can pretty much divide the cost by three. “Are you wearing our shirt next Monday?” one of my daughters asked me the other day.
- I have an advocate who, when we’re at the store together and I see something I love but don’t have to have, will go home and tell her father, “I know what Mom wants.” Then it will show up under the Christmas tree or at the Mother’s Day breakfast table or in the pile of gifts next to my birthday cake.
- I have babies who may one day give birth to their own babies in the most gorgeous kind of full circle.
- I have encouragers who, when I am feeling insecure, will somehow know that’s the moment to tell me, “Mom, you look so cute.”
- I have younger echoes of myself who know and understand me like no one else. My older daughter made me a pastel tulle tutu for Christmas one year because she remembered my sad story about dancing in a production of Hansel and Gretel. While the other classes wore frilly pink, my ballet class of gingerbread “men” had to wear brown pantsuits and brown-stained ballet shoes. And one Mother’s Day, my younger daughter gave me a basket filled with green household items, like dish soap and an oven mitt, along with a note that said, “If you weren’t my mom, I’d be green with envy,” telling me later that she knew I like puns and practical things.
Only my daughters get me in quite this way, and that’s the best and most complete “only” of all.