Boy or girl?

boots

Tomorrow we find out the answer to an epic question... are we having a boy or a girl? I have this very strange fear that I will be sad or disappointed when I hear the news. I'm not consciously worried about having a girl or having a boy, so I'm not sure where these feelings are coming from. But in an effort to alleviate my concerns, I have decided to make two lists:

 

Great things about having a BOY:

  1. I get to have a "son." That would be fun to say.
  2. We can raise one of each gender. This would be helpful for science experiments, proving and disproving stereotypes, and finally answering the question "nature or nurture?" What makes boys and girls different? (It will be such a relief when we finally figure this out.)
  3. BLUE CLOTHES. So many blue items of clothing we have been missing out on. Starting with boy pajamas (the best!).
  4. Boys seem less costly over time. They don't seem too obsessed with fancy clothes or jewelery or princess dresses. Or prom dresses! But wait then they are supposed to pay for dinner and all that...hmmm.
  5. It's really hard to picture what our boy would look like. Blonde maybe? It's fun to imagine.
  6. Jake and I only have sisters. So raising a boy would be like a wild new frontier for us. (But just so we're clear...it wouldn't be THAT different. See #5 to the right)

 

Great things about having a GIRL:

  1. Olivia gets to have a sister. How special is that?
  2. Olivia's dream of becoming ever more like the characters from Frozen comes true. (But which sister will be Elsa, the one with the power to freeze your heart and make you dead??)
  3. HAND-ME-DOWNS GALORE! We have boxes and boxes of adorable things that Olivia only got to wear a few times.
  4. Girl seems like the more cost-effective option. Did I mention that hand-me-downs are FREE?
  5. Girl is marginally more familiar than boy. I hesitate to even say this though. O is a girl, but it's not as though she is exhibiting uniquely female characteristics right now. She likes painting and playgrounds and singing and fruit. She dislikes bathtime and food she hasn't tried yet. We can navigate these things pretty well, but it has done nothing to prepare us for "raising a girl" necessarily.
  6. We already know what one daughter looks like. The other one will inevitably look different. But how??!

Well, in a strange way this makes me feel a little more reassured. Whichever variety we are blessed with, it will be a blessing. And learning the gender of this baby is just one tiny step in the journey toward learning who this little human is. A tiny one. But one of the only things we get to learn at this stage, so I plan to just run with it. I'm excited. (!!!)

What's gender got to do with it?

Boy or girl - doesn't matter, right?  Right!  And wrong.  The gender of a baby matters in ways that have nothing to do with value judgments or personal preference.  One of the most common things people ask me whether I would prefer a boy or a girl.  I suppose there are some people that freely answer this question one way or the other, but not me.  I can't.  And I won't, even if I could.

There was a time when I knew that I wanted a girl.  Three girls, actually.  Hope, Faith, and ... Love? Peace?  EarthMoonSunshine?  I forget.  This was yeeeears ago...circa 5th grade.  Circa Jennifer Love Hewitt, Party of Five, and apparently some kind of hippie influence.  Now I can honestly say that I don't have a "preference."  I have fears.  And concerns.  And I also dream about the fun little things that come with raising a boy or a girl.

The fact is, having a boy or girl does not matter to ME, but it does matter.  I studied gender long enough to know that boys and girls grow up differently and probably have some innate differences as well.  By the time children are 8-10 months old they have started developing a gender identity.  They learn that they are male or female in the same way they learn that the sky is blue.  From the moment they are born, in fact probably before that, we start to treat them differently.  Boys are more likely to be complemented for being "smart," "strong," or doing a good job.  Girls are more likely to get compliments about their looks- their cute shoes, pretty hair, or sweet smile.  (Here is a great blog about this very conundrum.) 

I've heard parents say that they tried to raise their kids "gender neutral," but each time it became impossible.  That makes sense to me.  Studies have shown that boys and girls tend to be naturally attracted to more "male" or "female" activities, toys, and behaviors.  Not true in every case, of course, just tendencies.  And we can't necessarily control that.  We can't control the messages kids get from other adults and kids.  And then we have our own limitations.  I have probably complimented little girls' clothing and hair 1.8 million times without thinking anything of it.  We do these things!  We all live in a gendered world.

And I know the world will not be a fair and balanced place for my children.  These fears go beyond gender too.  Chances are we not resolve sexism, homophobia, poverty, and the hundreds of our other social blemishes before my kids are grown.  But this doesn't make me "wish" for a boy any more than a girl.  It's not like that.

There is a fascinating and wonderful scene in the movie, The Family Stone, that my family watches every Christmas.  Sarah Jessica Parker's character tries to make a point about how it's a tough world out there, and even tougher if you are gay, and so doesn't every parent hope for a "normal" child?  Diane Keaton is the mother of the five Stone children, one of whom is gay.  She and the father, Craig T. Nelson, have such a fantastic response.  They remind me of my parents and of Jake's.

This video should start at the 3:15 mark - if you want to see the whole train wreck from the top, go to YouTube. I love this movie!


I think that all any parent hopes for is that their child will have the courage he or she will need to face life's inevitable unfairness.  I hope that I will find the way to pass that on to my kids.  Whether they are boy, girl, alien or superhero.