Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Girls vs. boys

I love that I have daughters.

Don’t get me wrong – if Lauren was a Larry and Anna was an Alan, I would adore them to itty-bitty pieces too.

But I’m really glad they came out with the lady parts.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say the exact opposite. There are many parents out there who count their blessings that they won’t have to deal with drama related to raging hormones, the desire to grow up too soon and horny little boys trying to deflower their little ladies.

Yet I would argue that I’m glad I don’t have to deal with tube socks behind closed bedroom doors, never knowing what he’s thinking and inevitable daughter-in-law drama.

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I kept saying the whole “It doesn’t matter if the baby is a boy or a girl… they’re equally amazing… blah diddy blah… yackety crap”.

But secretly? I really wanted a girl.

I wanted someone who would truly understand my feelings. I wanted someone who would one day become a friend if I didn’t royally fuck things up. I wanted someone who would let me be REALLY involved in their wedding planning.

Of course, a child is a child. They truly are equally amazing. The relationship is what you make of it and how you foster and grow and develop it. I know all this.

And I certainly don’t feel that all girls must “act like girls” or vice versa. (I’m very proud of the fact that Anna loves her toy cars as much as she loves her dressy shoes, has no clue what a princess is and refuses to let me do anything with her hair).

But I also know that it’s very likely that a girl will call me more than once a week. They’ll tell me how they feel and what they’re thinking. They’ll never make me crawl up a ladder to sneak into their house in the middle of the night to rock them back and forth, back and forth, back and forth so I can pretend they’re still my baby. (They’ll let me in the front door and welcome any and all mothering at any stage in their lives – particularly if and when they have a child themselves).

It may be wrong to admit this out there and to the open. Heaven forbid I have a son one day and he reads this and I scar him for life and he needs massive amounts of therapy and it all relates back to his bitch of a mother who never loved him enough.

For now? I’m okay with admitting that I get girls. I want girls.

I adore my girls.


  1. I agree with some of what you are saying, but would like to offer a different viewpoint as the mother of two boys. And it’s a long one, so get your popcorn ready.

    I will preface this with saying that yes, when I first found out I was having boys, I was upset. Not sad or disappointed necessarily, but anxious. I know nothing of boys. I grew up in a family of all women. I am a woman myself, how would I relate to a boy? Knowing that most likely I will never have a daughter makes me sad in a way. I accept that there is much that I will miss out on and not experience. I will have different experiences that are no less and no more than women with daughters. They will be just that. Different.

    It is an awesome experience to watch little boys do “boy” things (I say this loosely because I also have a child like Anna that does not conform to “typical” gender behaviours). A lot of how my kids act puzzles me, worries me but most of all makes me laugh exactly because I don’t understand the male mind. I have one son that will pretend to chop my head, arms and legs off with a laser sword one minute and then race over to pick every dandelion he sees on a lawn so I can have them.

    Personally, I do not think that the kind of relationship we have with our children is based even mostly on gender. I think it’s almost completely a personality match (or not). I already see one of my sons takes after my own personality more so than the other one. I think it’s very likely that I will be more attuned to what he is thinking because he seems to process experiences much like I do. I might understand what issues girls are faced with as they grow up, but if I had a very outgoing daughter, I might not really understand much of what she is thinking of feeling about the situation simply because she is so different than I am, the sharing of lady parts or not. I do not assume I will never know what my sons are thinking. I hope to build a relationship of trust and communication with them the way I could with a daughter. Of course there will be some things that are too embarrassing to share with mom – and those conversations will be left for my husband to enjoy. To me, watching my husband share special moments with my sons that I can’t as a woman relate to, is a very special thing. It’s made me appreciate men’s experience in life much more than I ever did.

    Also, I do not think mother-in-law drama is “inevitable” at all. I have a great relationship with my mother-in-law. I am very, very cautious that I include my own family and my husband’s family equally as I try my best to be the type of daughter-in-law I myself would like to have one day. I realize I will have to take a big step back and watch my boundaries, but I hope to high heaven that both my kids marry women that enjoy spending time with me and include me in their lives as much as their own mothers.

    I am not a fan of society’s general view that a grown man needing his mother on occasion is somehow weird (I’ll admit it is a weird and extreme example in the Munsch book) but women can enjoy their mothers (if they choose) for their wholes lives and that’s acceptable. Why can’t a grown man go to his mother’s for a meal he loved her cooking for him while he was growing up when he gets down or depressed? There’s nothing wrong with mom providing comfort for their grown sons once in a while (within healthy boundaries of course!). While wives certainly replace mothers as the most special woman in a man’s life once they get married, there is certainly still a role for mothers as boys become men.

  2. I agree with the commenter. I too am a mom to a boy and really wanted a girl. Not to dress them pretty, do their hair or play girly games with them, but because of the fear mentioned in your post about a boy not calling more than 1x a week, and the relationship that I see most men having with their parents all around me. My mom was the one to communicate with my mother in law - not my dad. My husband wouldn`t care if he didn`t see his mom for months, especially back when we first got married. All the men I`ve ever known have been hard to talk to, closed off emotionally, and come off as cold or not as loving and caring as the women in my life. When my son was born and started developing his personality I was shocked at how sweet and loving he is, and how strong our relationship has become. I hope as he grows up this doesn`t change. Since having my son we have also met lots of other little boys and most of them are also very sweet and loving. It makes me wonder why sweet loving boys often turn into rough tough men. I think it`s because of stereotypes and how teenage boys and men think women want them to act. Most women want the bad boy type and society seems to put pressure on them to be emotionally strong and not show any feelings. I never did want a rough type or bad boy type and never understood why that was the case with lots of my friends. But I can only hope that I can raise my own boy(s) in such a way that when he or they grow up they will stay true to the sweet and loving person I know they truly are inside.

  3. I don't call my mother more than, (or even at least!) once a week... does that make me a terrible daughter?

    I love the reference to "Love You Forever". My husbands gets teary-eyed reading that story. I find it a little creepy.

  4. Thanks for getting the conversation going, guys! I appreciate it. And I will start this off by saying that I agree with everything you’re saying – however, I still feel that a lot of what I said is true.

    You mentioned that having daughters or sons gives you a different experience – it’s no less or more meaningful – just different. And yes, I completely agree. That’s what I was trying to suggest by saying that there are pros and cons to each relationship. Girls can be hard to raise for a number of reasons – but I believe they generally have a closer relationship to their Moms later in life. Whereas, boys can be easier to raise, (they generally ADORE their Moms, can be easy to get along with, don’t end up hating their Moms in the teen years usually, etc. etc.) – but I think there is some truth to the saying “A daughter is a daughter for life. A son is a son until he finds a wife.” (This is tongue-in-cheek, of course. I can try to explain a bit better below…)

    I think boys will always love their Moms. But I think they’ll most likely always treat their Moms like Moms. Whereas, girls tend to become real “friends” with their Moms.

    When you said that the kind of relationship we have with our children isn’t based on gender but more on personality – that really struck a chord with me. I agree! I can see it already between my two girls. It’s also something I worry about endlessly. What if my daughter gets annoyed with me because we’re so different? It doesn’t matter that she’s a girl in that case. I totally agree with you…

    However, when you said you don’t think mother-in-law drama is “inevitable” at all – I have to say, I think the cases like yours are rare. In my experience, there tends to be more women who get along WAY better with their own Moms than they do with their mother-in-law. I think it’s just easier. And, to be honest, that’s one reason I’m glad I have girls. It’s not impossible to have boys end up with partners who enjoy spending time with you and include you in their lives as much as their own mothers – but it’s more likely that it’ll be easier for me to have that kind of relationship with my own daughter than if I had to try and foster/nurture that relationship with someone who wasn’t my child.

    All this being said, because I have a brother, I see the benefits my Mom has had to having a boy and a girl. And I truly see that both relationships are pretty amazing for different reasons.

    To both of the Anonymous commenters – I’m so happy you have meaningful, wonderful relationships with your sons! I’m sure that’s a reflection on you as a person and how great you are at being a Mom. :)

    Also – Laurel – of course you’re not a terrible daughter! :)

    I know with this post that I’m speaking in general terms for the most part. You never know what will end up happening – no matter what chromosomes they have. There are no guarantees when it comes to parenting, as I’m sure we ALL know! :)

  5. I do think it has a lot to do with personality. My daughter and I are extremely close, but I think that is due in large part because she and I have very similar personalities, likes and dislikes. I don't know how I would feel if she wasn't independent, social, and friendly. I also don't know if I would feel as strong a bond with her if she didn't like doing the activities that I like to do.

    My son and I have a lot of similarities in our personalities too, but mostly in our quirks/negative qualities...we are bothered by similar things, get anxious a lot, worry about everything, etc. This is a blessing and a curse for he and I. I completely understand how he feels most days, but it also annoys me because those qualities are ones that I wish I could change about myself and seeing them in him just reminds me of that. He tends to like to do different things than I do, which makes it hard to connect sometimes.

    So, I guess it isn't so much about gender, although in my case, it worked out that way.

  6. I think it has to do with personality too, but does not really have to do with being the same or different. My son and I could not be more different in terms of personality, yet we have a super close relationship. His personality really matches well with mine because it is so different. If his was the same as mine I doubt we would be as close. It is a deep fear of mine that your blog post is true and my son will only be my son until he is married, and then he wont care about me as much. Scares me and I do not even want to think about that right now.

    1. Isn't that interesting... because it's a deep fear of mine that my daughter will hate me when she's a teen and won't want anything to do with me. I don't even want to think about that!

    2. I guess we all have our fears and I think we were all given the children that we were meant to have - girl or boy. I do not think either of your daughters would ever hate you - even if one or both may go through a stage where they act like it. I do not think either my sister or I ever hated my mom, and even though my sister was much more rebellious than I ever was she always remained close to our mom, just like I did. I think my mom was always really open with us and we never had a reason to push her away. We knew no matter what we chose or did, she wouldnt stop loving us.

      My fear is not so much about my future potential DIL pushing me out of my sons life, but rather that I will miss out on that special relationship that happens between mothers and daughters once those daughters get married, and esp after they have children. Not that I will not have my own special relationship with my son, but I think it is different with a daughter and should I not have a daughter of my own some day I am scared I will feel much more alone after my child(ren) move out than I would with a daughter(s).

  7. Anon #1 again - You know, now that I'm thinking about it - I don't really see my good relationship with my MIL as all that rare. I'd say out of 4-5 girls I can think of, only 1 of them doesn't have a relationship with their MIL. The rest are very close - so to the last annonymous - don't get too upset. There are tons of women out there that have great relationships with their in-laws.

    Interesting enough, all the women except for one that I know that have the fantastic relationships with their MILs (including myself) come from divorced parents. Maybe we can understand a bit more how it feels to have fractured relationships and work a bit harder to maintain them for the sake of our kids? Or maybe we're used to dealing with blended/step families and don't find working with the in-laws as challenging?

    1. True... but maybe I worded things incorrectly. What I mean is - out of all the married women I know, almost ALL of them are closer with their own Moms than they are with their MIL. Which means that they're more likely to let their own Mom be super involved in their lives and their experiences, etc. That's just my take.

      However, I will say that I don't think people who don't have a fantastic relationship with their in-laws is because they aren't willing to work hard to maintain it. And I don't think you need to come from a family that's blended to know the value of maintaing a good relationship for the sake of the kids. It's extremely important to everyone I know (myself included) that their children have a great relationship with their grandparents. And I certainly think everyone I know works hard at it - whether they have blended families or not.

    2. Actually, and I need to add that I think my initial comment is getting a bit lost. I didn't say or imply or intend to say that good relationships with MILs are rare. I honestly just meant that in most cases, it's easier to be closer to your own parent than it is to be with someone who didn't raise you or who you don't have that bond with. I don't want to imply that MIL and DIL relationships are mostly terrible... At all. It's just been my experience that as a grown woman or a Mom, when you want a Mom figure - you want your own Mom. So you're more likely to have them involved as opposed to your MIL.

    3. Well yes, I'd agree that it's more usual to be closer to your own mother. I didn't think we were talking about closer, just having a good relationship in general. I'm not closer to my MIL and I didn't mean to imply that in my first post. I misunderstood what you were referring to as rare I think. The last anon poster was worried once her son gets married that she won't be important to him any more. I wanted to reassure her that in all likelyhood she won't be pushed out of the picture.

      And of course it is important to everyone to get along with their family and they work hard at it, my point was that perhaps (and I was more just thinking out loud so to speak) that people that experienced turmoil in their families will see their own family relationships a bit differently. Definitely not to say maintaining good relationsips means more to them, just that they may be extra sensitive to conflict in their own families. Having to adjust to blended families does give you a skill set early on that makes getting along with in-laws a bit easier I think. Again, not to imply that you can if you come from a stable family environment you can't enjoy a relationship, I just see the blended/step family thing as a bit of pratice for in-laws.

    4. Interesting take! That's a whole other debate/conversation, I think! :)

  8. Oh, and yes - to the commenter who was worried about being pushed out of the picture by a DIL... I think that's a completely different level than what I meant by "DIL drama" in my original blog post. I think that's rude and unfair of someone to do that to a MIL... I would hope that would never happen and that your son wouldn't let that happen either!

  9. Anon #1 - Sorry, I misread your post. I read "inevitable MIL drama" when that's not what you said. My apologies!

  10. I have boys, and I love watching my husband with them, it's like watching little versions of my husband, which I think is adorable. I know I will be close with my kids, but I also know the special bond with dads and sons. I can't wait to watch them do their boy things together and my husband teach them stuff, and crack their silly boy jokes at the dinner table. I never really thought about how they will benefit "me", I always think how special it'll be for him. I'm not really worried about not being close with them once they are married, cause I think I'll be a pretty cool MIL! I know how to be respectful and friendly, so hopefully my DIL will like me too. :) I still plan to have a couple more kids so I may end up with a girl one day, which would be nice too. But I'll be happy with whatever I get, as long as they are happy and healthy. :)

    1. That's great! Sounds like you've got a great, happy, healthy family! :)