When I was pregnant with my second, I had an eighteen month old son. I loved him with every ounce of my being, of course, and I loved that he was a boy. No real reason, except I didn’t know much about boys before him, and there was something about the discovery that was fascinating and fulfilling.
But in the ultrasound room, when the nurse asked us if we wanted to know the gender, and my husband and I nodded, and she pointed, and I thought I saw a little penis, I was disappointed. Just for a second, but I was.
And then she said, See that? That cheeseburger looking thing? It’s a girl!
I was so excited for a girl. For a calmer version of my son, for a different relationship than the one I had already. But as soon as she came screaming into the world, it became clear to me something that is surely already clear to most – she wasn’t different because she was a girl, she was different because she was a different child. A different son would have stunned me the same.
I learned, very quickly, that my desire for a different gender was seeped in my own societal understanding of what having a girl, or a boy, meant – and very little of that meant anything real. It still doesn’t. I thought my daughter would be quieter, and calmer. She’s now, at three, the kind of kid you have to ask to be quiet at the movies. She rides bikes. She has skinned knees. I don’t know what movies I was watching that told me that she would sit and color quietly, but I kick myself for falling into it in my own mind.
My son is more sensitive, doesn’t like to be the center of attention, hates loud noises. When they fight, I always call after her to lay up. The point is, they are a boy and girl yes, and that means something, yes, but not a whole lot. Having a boy and then a girl has been a gift, for sure. But it is mostly having those two.