When my husband and I were dating, and it was becoming more and more evident that marriage was on the horizon, we would talk about all of things any couple who is considering marriage would talk about.
On one of our conversations was, of course, about having children. We both agreed we wanted to have several children, but just just for fun, we also answered this question:
If God said, “You can have as many children as you’d like, but you have to pick one gender” which gender would you choose?
To my husband’s surprise I responded without hesitation, “Boys. ALL boys.”
I was one of three girls. I adore my sisters and have an extraordinary relationship with my mom. My desire to parent boys wasn’t born from any kind of painful experience as a sister or daughter. I just knew I wanted boys. I loved the boy life, and I envisioned growing old alongside my husband on the sidelines of a lot of athletic fields.
Would I have loved and adored a little girl? Absolutely. But if you made me choose, I’d choose boys.
Fifteen years later, Mike and I are the proud parents of four boys. (Rest assured, most of the rest of my life hasn’t turned out as I expected, and for that I am actually incredibly grateful.) But the boy thing worked in my favor.
Which, is why, I am so befuddled every time someone sees me with my FOUR boys, and can’t help but ask any one of the following annoying questions:
· Are you going to keep trying for a girl?
· Are you so disappointed you didn’t get a girl?
· You could always adopt a girl!
· Was your fourth boy a last attempt for a girl?
People. For the love!
It is one thing to say such bizarre things to me when I’m alone. It really doesn’t bother me much. But IN FRONT OF MY BOYS? Come on.
This past weekend, while on a family vacation, we were bombarded with questions from curious onlookers who just couldn’t keep their mouths shut.
Sitting on the airplane, I was lined up in seats A,B,C,D with my four boys. My 11, 9, and 6 year old were in seats, and my newborn was in my lap. A gentleman walked past us to his seat behind us, stopped, backed up, took a good long look at all four of us and said TO MY boys, “Your mama must really want a girl now!”
He chuckled. He was the only one who chuckled. My boys looked at me with that look that says, “Um Mom, what do we do now?”
I smiled the best a mama knows how to smile when a stranger suggests to her children that they must not be enough for her.
“No, no I don’t actually. I love being a mom to these four unique fellas. I couldn’t ask for more” I explained as I looked at each one of my boys.
“Right, boys? You’re as good as it gets, aren’t you!” I said to them, hoping that the gentlemen’s words didn’t settle too deeply in their hearts.
“Oh well, good for you I guess!” he muttered and took his seat behind us.
Later, the next day, our motley crew of six boarded a shuttle. As we walked down the center aisle, passing lots of curious onlookers, one woman in particular just couldn’t help herself. She blurted out “You’re a better woman than me. I would have told the doctor to push that fourth boy right back in.”
What? Not only is that super gross but really?! I was so dumbfounded by her comment that the only words I could find were, “No, I actually couldn’t wait to get him in my arms. But enjoy your day!”
After we passed said peculiar women on the shuttle, my son Brennan said, “Mom, that was weird, right?”
“Yes, baby,” I laughed, “that was weird. I guess we all say weird things sometimes though, right?”
“Right” he laughed, “but that was super weird.” And he was right.
So I’ve resolved to use these “weird” comments as an opportunity to affirm my boys again and again. When the hurtful comments are made in front of my boys, I’m learning how to use it for good. Because THEY ARE LISTENING, people. They hear you!
“No, I wasn’t disappointed. I was thrilled. I love being a mom of boys. And they are all so unique, they each add a different dynamic to our family.”
“No I wasn’t trying for a girl. I was hopeful God would give us another boy. But I would have been thankful for either. I don’t take the blessing of children lightly.”
“Yes, we do hope to adopt but it won’t be to fill a void of a girl. We will adopt whomever the good Lord lead us to.”
“No, I’m not sad. Being a boy mom is the best. Just look at these four boys. Would you be disappointed with a crew like this? You can’t imagine the fun we have!!”
So, dear stranger, who can’t help but wonder if I’m not just so very disappointed that I didn’t get a girl, can I please give you some friendly advice?
If you want to ask weird and ignorant questions, please remember that little ears are listening. THEY ARE LISTENING, people. They have ears that hear you and hearts that are hurt by you.
When you say, “You must have been hoping he was a girl” what my precious boys hear is “he must be such a disappointment.”
No, he’s not a disappointment. He’s the greatest gift my husband and I have ever known.
Each one of them is God’s masterpiece, fearfully and wonderfully made, created on purpose for a purpose, and I can barely believe that God was kind enough to entrust each one of them to me.
So, in the future, if you must comment, perhaps a simple, “Wow. Four boys. What a gift!” will suffice.
Jeannie Cunnion is the author of "Parenting the Wholehearted Child," and a blogger at www.jeanniecunnion.com. She has a Master's degree in Social Work, and her background combines counseling, writing, and speaking about parenting and adoption issues. Jeannie and her husband, Mike, are the proud parents of four wild and awesome boys.