If you want to know one phrase that every boy mom could do without, I can tell you what it is. It’s a simple question that is offered up harmlessly when random strangers see mothers of boys:
“So, are you going to try for a girl?”
And I would know because, especially after having my fourth son, it’s accurate to say I’ve been asked this question nearly 500 times. It’s actually hard to go anywhere with all of my sons and NOT get asked this question at least once. And while I know no one means any harm by asking it, it just never sits well with me. (P.S. I even cringed when I had to type it.)
Maybe you don’t know this — and I assure you I didn’t know it either — but I have learned there is a hidden assumption pre-programmed into the bulk of our society that innately thinks every woman secretly craves having a daughter. And that a family is not complete until you have both a boy and a girl. Or at least that is what I gather from my eight years of being asked the ‘trying for a girl’ question.
And if that is true for most of society, I guess I do not fall into that norm. Because I do not feel slighted by my sons in the least. I love it, which is why today, on behalf of all boy moms, I would love to explain why the phrase “Are you trying for a girl?” needs to go find a nice little cabin by a lake and retire.
It creates unnecessary pity.
What I don’t like about having to say, “No, I’m not trying for a girl,” is the feeling I get that the stranger on the other side of the grocery aisle assumes I’m lying to them about my happiness with having boys. I feel pity from someone about something that I love, which just feels wrong to me. (And believe you me, it’s not that I don’t enjoy pity; I mean, feel free to give me some crazy heavy pity for what I have to endure during my toddler’s bedtime routine.) And it’s not that I don’t love little girls or that I don’t love being a girl because I do! I am just happy with my boys and don’t want someone feeling bad for me about something that brings me joy.
It projects someone else’s feelings on me.
By saying, “Are you going to try for a girl?” you are projecting your feelings that I have been trying for a girl from the start onto me.
While I recognize I am rare because I wanted three little boys from the time I was a little girl, I think it’s polite to let a woman choose to tell you if she is trying for a girl. And there is nothing wrong with being the girl who prefers girls because girls ARE awesome. Just like there is nothing wrong with having a preference toward boys, because boys are awesome, TOO. But it seems most appropriate to let someone tell you if they want a different gender rather than just assuming that they do. (But by all means, if someone shares with you that they are disappointed because they have all boys, then take that as your cue to join in pity with them!)
It implies kids were not the goal.
This question also implies that my husband and I did not make the conscious choice to have children. Instead, it implies that seven years ago, when we began trying to conceive, our conversation about having kids went something like this, “Well, we’ve been married a long time now, and I think I’m ready to become a parent. So, dear. Are you ready to start our family of daughters?” Which is not the conversation we had. In fact, our first son was a total surprise. We didn’t even know we were trying for a kid. 😉 But in the conversations that have followed, our words went more like this, “Do you feel ready to have another child? Either a boy or a girl.”
It negates science.
While it would be fun if we were all able to pick the gender of our children, this question also negates the fact that without major medical intervention, gender is not something in our control. So it seems like a bad idea to me for anyone to decide to have a child solely on gender. I think all people trying for another child should be trying for just that—a child. Not a son. Or a daughter. Or sadly, I think you might wind up disappointed. (Until you see your baby—then you’ll forget you ever cared.)
It insults the children who hear it.
And while I know no one would ever intentionally mean to be rude by asking this, this question also insults my sons when you say it in front of them. After hearing this question hundreds of times (because they hear it almost every time we take them out somewhere), you are planting a small seed in their heads and hearts that they are not good enough for me. You subtly hint to them that as a female, I will not be satisfied until I have a female child. And I hate that for them. But I do love their new response to this question. In unison, they now answer, “No, she always wanted sons.”
It implies I have no limit.
Lastly, it assumes that I am more concerned with the gender of my children than the quantity. If my goal was a daughter, would you assume I would go to 18 kids just to wind up with a daughter? It just seems silly to me. And just plain scary. I mean, four kids is a pretty hearty number if you ask me. Right? But I feel like people act like the four children we already have would not impact when we decide to call the baby-making quits. So let me just get this out there: we are done.
And if that makes you think, “Poor little thing, she just kept trying and trying for a girl, and now she’s had so many, she just has to give up.” Please don’t. Because I’m not bitter. Instead, I’m better because of my sons. And I’m overwhelmed with gratitude every time I look at them all together. I truly look forward to the day when I have four grown men sitting at the dinner table, eating enough food that I have to run out and buy more during the meal. It makes me tear up just thinking about it.
So no, I’m not trying for a girl. And I never was. But I was trying for a child. And four beautiful children I certainly got.