On Daughters

An odd thing happens when you tell people you are having a girl. When I would tell people that my wife is pregnant, naturally one of the first questions is, ‘boy or girl?’ I don’t remember exactly, but somewhere between 1/3 and as much as half of the responses after my answer (a girl) were something along the lines of, ‘how are you doing?’ or ‘are you okay with that?’ Sometimes it was worded more subtly, and I didn’t quit understand what they were referring  to. Was I happy with a kid? Absolutely, we’d been married for six years and had been trying for months to get pregnant.

Being asked this over and over, and often much more bluntly, I finally realized what the major issue was that people were so concerned with: how disappointment was I, a man, with have a daughter. More often than not, it was women who asked me, especially older ones, who would make a sad and concerned face while asking. It makes me sad to think of how they must have felt growing up.

To be fair, if I could have had my perfect situation, I’d have a son first then a daughter. Partly because I don’t understand babies/children or women, but I do understand boys, so I felt the transition would help prepare me as a parent. But then there is also some idealistic about have the other son helping to protect and look out for their little sister.

Either way, one of each was generally the ‘plan’ as much as random occurrences can be planned. It just seems so anachronistic to be disappointed with a daughter.  I won’t be burdened with her until I can marry her off. I am not part of the titled gentry, where I risk losing my land rights for future heirs if I don’t have a Sir Monday Morning Theologian the Second the carry on my name.

It is also just sad thinking how common this feeling must be (or hopefully, must have been) that so many people felt the need to express sympathy for me. I can’t imagine how some little girls must have felt and how that impacted them later on in life.

A good friend of mine and his wife were also pregnant in some overlapping time. He was having a boy. I was at talking with people after service one Sunday, and the group included the wife and an older couple, who, upon finding out that they were expecting a son said, “He must be excited.” She noted that many people ask her some form of that question. When I asked him about it, he confirmed that he quite often received a congratulatory type response from people, as if he had no interest in a daughter. It truly is a sad state for this to be such a common thing in our society today.

It sounds cliche, but when it happens, it is actually true: you really do not care what comes up on the ultrasound, as long as it is healthy. Even if you have some lingering sadness/disappointment/whatever else there is, it should dissipate quickly after holder her and looking at her little potato face. It certainly should be gone by the time she can smile at you.  Look, you really need to talk to Jesus and spend some time reflecting, if, when you go pick her up from day care, and she comes running to you, smiling, with her hands out, and you still care what’s under her diaper.

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