When I was a little girl, fantasizing about my adult life, it always included daughters. Never sons.
It wasn’t that I was opposed to having sons – I was just so sure I’d have daughters instead. And that expectation carried over to adulthood and into my first pregnancy.
In fact, this is how sure my husband and I both were that our baby was a girl: At Christmas time, just before the “big” sex-revealing ultrasound, there was a present under our tree that said, “To Carly, from Mommy and Daddy.”
So you can imagine my surprise when our “Carly” ended up being a Colin. When the ultrasound tech showed us the goods on the screen, my first thought was literally, “My daughter has a penis?”
In the years to follow, Colin was joined by a Cameron, a Coby, and a Corbin.
Four sons. Zero daughters.
You might think that because of this, my childhood dreams of tea parties and tutus were dashed to bits against a wall of boogers and bugs. Because that’s what everybody else seems to think.
They think that because I’m a woman without female offspring, I’m somehow incomplete, missing something crucial, condemned to a daughter-less void, with a gaping hole in my heart that only a little girl could fill.
And I’m here to say, louder this time for the folks in the back: IF YOU THINK THIS, YOU’RE DEAD-ASS WRONG.
Stop feeling sorry for me, because I don’t need your pity.
This misdirected sympathy was the worst when I was pregnant, especially by the time I got to boy #4. People would ask what I was having, then look visibly crestfallen at my response, like it was a huge bummer.
I got that reaction from casual acquaintances, from friends, from family. I may as well have told them my dog just died.
It was inevitably followed by a reassuring pat on the shoulder, and the phrase I could go the rest of my life without hearing, but hear all the time: “Well, maybe next time you’ll get your girl. You are going to try again, aren’t you?”
No. We’re not going to “try again.” And do you want to know why?
It’s because trying again sounds like we got it wrong the first four times.
I don’t want anyone – least of all my four precious, amazing, wonderful boys – to think that we just kept trying because they weren’t good enough.
People say these things, react this way, right in front of my sons. They openly feel sorry for me, where my boys can see them, and (mistakenly, yet loudly) opine that I neeeeed a little girl. Why? Because the kids I got are somehow inadequate, just a consolation prize?
How must it make them feel to hear that? Do they sense people’s pity that I have all these “icky” boys and not a single princess in the house? Because it’s palpable.
I’m not exaggerating one iota when I say that it happens nearly every time I’m in public with my kids, the pitying looks, the tight, purse-lipped smiles-that-aren’t-really-smiles.
“All boys?!” people say, and how they’re received depends on the delivery. Sometimes they say it with a tinge of awe, which is fine; sometimes it’s said with an inflection of disappointment, like they’re offering their condolences, which is not fine.
Maybe people think that just because my children are of the opposite sex, I can never really identify with them, or bond through shared interests, or hand down my genetic qualities. Maybe they’re disappointed on my behalf, at the perceived loss of these things.
But I passed down unmistakable traits to my sons, just the same as I would’ve daughters.
I catch glimpses of myself in them every day; sometimes in their personalities, their sense of humor, their preferences – and sometimes when their faces are like looking in a mirror (especially Coby, who basically looks like the male version of me).
Do I complain about my boys? Of course. They do things like neglect to aim, resulting in a toilet seat full of pee (and I suspect this wouldn’t happen, or at least not as frequently, if they were daughters).
But when I gripe about stuff like that, I’m just being a mom – not a mom who is disappointed I only have a houseful of sons.
So please. Don’t pity me. Don’t pity anyone with a brood of boys (or girls!) and assume that they walk around with some kind of deep-down empty space. We don’t.
Like any mother, of any gender, I’m proud of my kids. I wouldn’t want different ones, not even if it means going through life never painting each other’s nails and swapping stories about “girl stuff.” I don’t miss what I don’t have. Not a bit.
I may have wrestling, burping-contest-having, pants-ripping, furniture-destroying dudes, and a toilet that requires a hazmat suit to clean, but believe me when I say this: I wouldn’t change one single thing. I love it. I love them. And I can assure you, nothing is missing from our life.
Except maybe people who understand that.
This article was originally published on