Girls 3, Boys 0
I have three children who happen to be girls.
This brings about the usual quips and remarks as we roll through life. “Your poor husband is outnumbered!” they say, “Must make for great hand-me-downs,” or “Oh, those teenage years will be interesting. Not!” Then occasionally a man – always a man, frequently with white hair and a thin voice – will point out that my husband didn’t get his boy.
Like talking about the weather, these responses are standard fodder, something to say when you have nothing else to say.
It’s required information, the sex of your children, just like the age of your children, and almost immediately follows the number of children you have. It’s part of the fabric of our lives, the questions we endure after announcing our name. It tells something about us, enables strangers to form a picture in their minds of what our lives must be like.
But of course, it tells nothing about us.
While pregnant with my third, with two very obvious girls in toe, I fielded questions fast and furious about the sex of my unborn child. Oh how those people hoped I would have a boy, almost as furtively as I wanted a girl. I have nothing against boys, in fact I love them; I love the different perspectives they bring to situations, whether it is one of calm rationale, or to infuse a situation with energy. Thank god for boys and men. Yet I felt totally ambivalent about the sex of my first child – a baby was a baby, health was my only concern. Once I had my healthy baby, a girl, it seemed easier to have another. And then another. I was completely happy with the score in our family, girls 4, boy 1.
Come on, fine for you, but what about your husband? People scoffed. Once, at a family gathering, I was chastised for not hoping for a boy. They thought it was selfish of me to not want a boy, for my husband’s sake. I found this hilarious, since it was my husband’s prerogative to wish for a boy if he so chose, and what difference did it make in the end? They were entitled to their perspective, but I didn’t like them imposing their thoughts on me. (I may have mentioned this to them.) I know there are people out there who feel your life is not complete unless you have the experience of raising both a boy and a girl, but I’m not one of them.
My children may share the same gender, but otherwise are as different as Barbie and Skipper. In fact, they are more like the children of Phil and Claire on Modern Family, three people thrust together under the same roof with vastly different personalities, entirely separate strengths and weaknesses, who bear little resemblance to each other.
My kids are now 8, 11 and 13. One likes pink, the other anything but pink, and my youngest prefers black, so they have carved out a need for individual wardrobes, laying to rest the hope of hand-me-downs. My oldest has a passion for fashion, my middle a passion for sports, my youngest a passion for debating. Yes, they are all gifted in their passions, which means we spend a lot of time spread out, trying to keep everyone happy, whilst arguing.
Still, I field the questions everyday about the genetic makeup of my children, and endure those occasional clucking sounds when they hear the score. To keep things interesting, I now reply, I have three children, three individuals, who happen to be girls. I think that paints a more accurate picture.