It is without fail that while in public, a perfect stranger will approach me and say, “So, you kept trying for that boy, huh. Good thing it worked out.” Now, I am aware these comments appear innocent and I’m not trying to be a reactive person. However, this exasperation speaks silent messages to my children that I have issues with because of the silently loud messages they send.
Before I begin to rant, let me give some background: I have three children, two girls who are eighteen months apart and one boy who is 5 years younger than my eldest. My girls were planned, we wanted to have siblings close in age (not sure what drug we were on) but it worked out relatively well. Then, our happy accident came, our brief lapse in judgment that can be chalked up to an Adele concert and too much champagne.
I’ve had three kids for six years. During my son’s infancy stage, I welcomed any kind of understanding for the hell I was living in. He was colicky, cranky, and ate like a horse. My sore nipples clouded my judgment, my exhaustion was desperate for some understanding, and my soggy brain even listened to the elderly women who loved to give me unsafe advice. I was told that if I ever needed a cigarette break, my daughters, aged 6 and 5 would be fine watching my infant son. Because you know, maternal duties come so naturally, even in five year olds. I’m proof that this is not true. I don’t smoke and there was no way in hell I’d ever leave my baby with my little ladies who wanted to both eat him with love and ditch him in resentment. It was not until I came out of the first year of my son’s infancy that I realized how horrible these “waiting for that boy” remarks truly were.
My clan and I were in Target and were approached by a woman in her late sixties. She patted me on the shoulder and sighed, “Isn’t it just great that you finally got your boy. I bet your husband is a happy man.”
I don’t know what is was in that moment, maybe pure exhaustion, but I had had enough. I was done accepting my girls being made to feel less in my eyes because they were girls. I was done with strangers putting my son, who can be a royal pain in the ass, up on some masculine pedestal. I said to her, “Actually, no. It was not a great thing. He was a complete mishap because we were drunk and furthermore, I love having girls. We were actually hoping for one more.”
She squinted her eyes at me and said, “Well, I never. You ladies these days, no class.”
I stood there feeling like I just conquered a beast. I looked at my girls and they both smiled. They continued to mock that lady for years because they knew I needed the reminder to keep standing up for them. Reminding the world that they were just as valuable as their brother. Don’t get me wrong, for a good twenty-four hours my neurosis kicked in and I felt like the rudest woman in the world, but I knew I did the right thing.
That woman, she was not unique. I still get approached by people of all ages and my reaction is a bit less crass, but I will always defend my girls. I will not let any person ever make them feel less than, ever, even if it is their brother. Nor will I let anyone put such superiority on my son. Of course I was thrilled to have a son, but I was just as thrilled to have daughters. The euphoric joy in the delivery room had nothing to do with the sex of the baby. My son does not hold a greater standing in my house because he has a penis. I love my kids equally (except when one buys me chocolate) and will always stand up to these silently loud messages sent their way.
I wrote this piece in the beginning of 2016. I think, now, more than ever, it is relevant. These messages are not so silent anymore. Our girls see the crack in the glass ceiling and need us to give them a boost to shatter it, because our ladders have been taken away. It is up to us, fellow humans, to let these girls of ours know they matter, they can do anything, and they deserve whatever they set their minds to, whether it be the Presidency or the football field.