mean mama

sex/gender rant
April 9, 2008, 1:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have a few bones to pick.

First let me say that my family and P’s family seemed to be pleased to be having another grandson/nephew. I didn’t hear any disappointed sighs, and frankly I expected at least one. What a relief to not have to deal with that BS.

However, every nurse or aid who has asked what I’m having has expressed what a pity it is that I am not having a girl. WTF? It is so annoying! It’s like people actually just can’t believe that I would be happy with a third boy. Like they think I’m lying because, what else are you going to say? I have even been asked if I am going to try for a girl after this. Are you f*ing out of your mind? Consider the fact that I have been sitting here for 3+ weeks with amniotic fluid leaking out of my vag, not to mention that I already have two other children at home, and reconsider asking that question.

And that brings me to another rant. Now, I apologize in advance if my views offend you, but I am just being honest here. I just do not understand the logic behind trying for a girl or boy over and over again. What do you do when you don’t get one? If the whole point of having another child is based on the hope of getting a specific sex, then what do you make of the child when s/he is *not* the one you’d hoped for? I wish I didn’t sound so judgmental, sorry. Each family to its own. It’s just not for me, that’s all.

I think parents who have same-sex twins are at an advantage, in a way. Our kids go through stages of development at roughly the same time, so their differences and likenesses are right in front of us. We notice both big and little things that lead us to appreciate our children’s uniqueness, not interpreted by us through gender roles but seen more for what they are. Outsiders do not see it in quite the same way, however. Since I’ve had twin boys, I get a lot of reactions from people like, “Wow, two boys… they’re gonna give you a run for your money!” So am I to assume that girls do not ever disobey or act wild? That would not describe me as a child. My boys show many different types of aggressive and docile behavior that I could easily interpret as male or female, but it seems to me that that does a disservice to both sexes because it puts limits on them. It feels better to me just to be an observer of my boys’ behavior, to appreciate their strengths and help them with their weaknesses.

There certainly are qualities to both of my boys that many of us would see as boyish; however, if you’re going to play it that way, then what do you do when some of their traits fall into the girlish category? For example, M loves trains and trucks. Do you know how much he loves them? He loves them so much that he literally cradles them in his arms like a mommy caring for her baby, kissing them, and saying, “I LOVE you, truck.” M says, “I wanna cuddle, Mama.” He loves to sing and dance. He is obedient, sometimes to the point of kiss-up status.

J, on the other hand, laughs as he tests your limits. But when he looks up at you and pleads, “Hold me,” your heart melts. He loves to lie against me on the couch. J loves to color and paint and do playdough. He is not so much into trucks or trains. He is more into his two identical bears, both of whom he calls “Gussy.” He also likes to build with blocks and do puzzles on occasion. He loves books and being read to. J would spend all day running, climbing, and being chased and tickled if you let him. Both boys have great senses of humor, care for others, and enjoy attention. Both boys can be a pain in the butt.

Haven’t I just described two great kids with balanced personalities? Why do we to talk about them in terms of gender all the live-long day?

Yet it’s important, it seems.

I had just a sister growing up. I am not a huge fan of my parents’ parenting techniques, but on the other hand, I think they mostly treated us as unique individuals rather than “the girls.” I think not having a brother was helpful in this vein. We were growing up to be strong people with our own strengths and weaknesses, without reference to how those strengths and weaknesses related to sex and gender. I’m not sure if that would hold true, had I had a brother.

I notice that the parents of boy/girl twins I know reference the children’s differences more in terms of gender than I’d expect. These are liberal, forward-thinking people. I’m sure it is hard not to do. I’m also sure I don’t really understand it, not having “one of each” in the first place. But it still shocks me sometimes.

I have been watching a lot of TV here in the hospital, as you can imagine. I have now seen three ads that drive me crazy because of their implications about boys and men. The first is for some walker toy for toddler boys that states, “Boys are just built differently!” They never really explain what that means, but there’s a lot of monster truck rally-ish music in the background and footage of a boy toddler ripping through a dining room with the walker. What. do. they. mean? What can’t a girl use that toy? Last time I checked, both boy and girl toddlers have to learn to walk, and they are both on the reckless side.

The other two ads that rub me the wrong way are for cleaning products, and they both reference wives having to clean up after their husbands. In one of the ads, the husband actually is shown washing a pan, with the wife eying him from across the kitchen as if to say, “You idiot, you can’t wash anything for sh*t! (Sighhhhhh.) Guess I’ll have to redo it. Again.” My husband and I really can’t stand these kinds of ads because, frankly, he probably does more cleaning than I do and is better at it in the first place. But I guess that makes him less of a man. And maybe it even makes me less of a woman.

So, if we should not be bound to gender roles, why do even the most progressive among us have preferences for a boy or a girl when we’re expecting? If it really doesn’t matter, then why do we care? What do I mean when I say that I love having boys. I don’t know. I guess what I means that I love having my kids, and they happen to be boys. And to be fair, I do think gender roles play into it a little. For example, I liked playing sports as a kid and I like watching football to this day, so maybe there is an assumption that my boys might like those things too. Honestly, I won’t be disappointed if they don’t. But that’s an example of how gender ideas would creep into it.

It is interesting that we all have our ideas of what it will be like to have a boy or a girl. I am certainly hoping that I will not raise macho men, but to some degree it is out of my control. Parents do their best to infuse their values and ways of life in their kids, and sometimes the kids totally reject those things and do the opposite. I have a friend who reallllllllllllly wanted a girl, and she got one. My friend was picturing a daughter whom she could dress up in funky rainbow tights and who would play in the mud and kick ass at the playground. You know what happened? Her child, who is now in elementary school, insists on wearing dresses every day, asked for her room to be painted pink, and spends much of her time playing princess. Sometimes we get what we wish for, just in a much different form. My friend has adapted to playing princess, though she trying to infiltrate the plots of pretend play with the princess seizing pirate ships and the like.

Anyway, I am happy with my almost three boys. Why anyone wouldn’t be happy for me because I don’t have “one of each” is beyond me. What do anyone else’s wishes have to do with me? It pisses me off in the name of my boys, and specifically in the name of this little one inside of me, who is going to be his own person, his own boy, as opposed to the “ungirl.

PS- If you notice, I have no objection to my boys playing with toys that are usually marketed to boys, such as trucks and trains. Nor will I object to them participating in traditionally male activities, such as sports.  Nor is it my desire to stand in the way of them defining themselves in terms of gender. But as their parent, I want to appreciate their wants and hobbies as their own, individually, without assuming that these are the things that they will do or that are appropriate for them because they are boys. Make sense?


11 Comments so far
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Well said!

I just keep thinking what a great bond your three boys will have. How they will get together when they are older with their families and you two. How maybe they will plan BBQs at one of their homes and enjoy each other’s company. I never thought about it much till I had two girls, but I love love love the idea of same sex siblings. I have a brother and we are close, but only on paper. meaning we spend time with our families but it isn’t like we go out for lunch for “us” time. I do that with his wife. I always wanted a sister growing up. and now, my girls will have each other.

And, like I said, you are queen of that house. The one and only!

And you are getting so close to 30 weeks!

Comment by Jennifer

Let me say right off the bat that you mirror my own views on how small children should not be molded not by gender but personality.

And then I had my daughter.

She was the first girl born into my family in 23 years, preceded by two brother and THIRTEEN male cousins. When the doctor announced she was female I asked him to check again because “we don’t have girls in my family”.

I swore up and down that she would be treated just like “them” – no shoving “girly” things at her.

And then she hit 18 months, and all she wanted was dolls, carriages, dress-up growns, play jewelry (all of which had been offered to the boys and tossed aside relatively quickly). My family and friends were hysterical, knowing my views, as I tried to interest her in all the male or neutral oriented toys around to no avail. Even her Play Doh creations had a female bent to them.
So I sighed and let her be her.

The next two brothers she had would play for a while with her dolls and such – and then head to the trucks.

To this day she remains “all girl”. Pink is her favorite color. Bows and ribbons are a MUST. Gazing at her freshly painted pink nails makes her smile.

And she constantly reminds me how she would like a little sister. She ever finds out I had a tubal ligation ……

I also have to say that I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters – love them all. Am as close to my sisters as I am to my brothers. Maybe don’t go to the mall with the brothers, but enjoy baseball games and family get-togethers with them just as much.

So, as someone who fully expected (and would have been happy) to have children all of the same sex I understand how thrilled you are at having a third son – and many congratulations to you!

The bottom-line to me is that a sibling of any gender is a gift from the heart, and that is what your sons will have.

Comment by chinatears

G-d, asshats…sigh.

Amazing how folks just can’t accept the fact that a mom is happy with the children she has, be they boys or girls. Healthy is always a good start, gender a secondary factor.

I find it amazing too, those people who ask if you’re going to try for a boy/girl if you’ve got one or more of one gender. Hell, in your case, you’re not even finished gestating the one aboard now and they’re already bombarding you with this?! The nerve.

With two girls, I get those questions every so often (um, hey, how about you let me finish growing this little one in my belly before asking me such an insensitive question? gee, thanks.). Less so now that the girls are getting older and most of the people we know know that we wanted two children. Regardless, every so often, I get hit with “are you going to try for a boy next?” Yeah, because that’s how it’s done–you put in your ‘order’ and you magically get it. Psshh. Idiots.

When J wants to play with one of our friend’s two boys, and they’re off ‘battling’ with light sabers–with Miss J whipping up on them boys–my heart soars. At the same time, when she wants me to read D!sney Pr!ncess tales to her one more time, my heart also soars.

Like chinatears says above, any child is a gift, regardless of their gender. Sorry that you’re encountering some fools who think you’re at some sort of a loss for not having a girl (just as I’m at some sort of a loss for not having a boy). It would be nice if people could just keep their comments to themselves on the subject, rather than ‘gracing’ you with their wishes and prejudices.

Comment by Dee

I HEART this post.

And I posted about the evil tonka ads way back when…

Comment by artsweet

p.s. YEAH MeanBabyBoy! And yeah 29 1/2 weeks, too.

Comment by artsweet

Oy oy oy. I so know what you mean. I get this same thing all the time. People REALLY want me to have another (its own post of rage) and they REALLY want it to be a girl. More so, when they hear that I have a big boy already.

It is a strange experience to have had such a strong preference – envisioning a girl much like your friend’s and also envisioning a relationship with my daughter to echo that I missed with my mom. And then to have a boy and not be able to imagine having a girl after all. To realize that I would have heaped all my unrealistic expectations on a girl and that I hope to be able to resist doing this because I have a son. But why? Why not just expect HIM to be to me what I was to my mom? Maybe the whole thing is a giant lesson in what I needed to learn.

Comment by bri

When I was a teacher, I taught twin fifth-grade boys. They were amazing kids… bright, creative (one of them used to choreograph these Backstreet Boys-esque numbers), happy… a pleasure to teach and know. They had a brother who was two years younger. Three boys in the family.

I went to their house once for a school meeting–they lived in a huge mansion of a place–and saw their bedrooms. Even though each boy had his own bedroom technically, they had put all their beds in the same room, because they liked being together so much.

Anyway, even if your boys don’t end up with quite that saccharine a relationship, I can’t imagine how three boys could be anything but a blessing. I sure do love my little boychik. I wasn’t at all disappointed when I found out he was a boy, despite several people asking, “How do you ‘feel’ about having a boy?” As if, because I’m a lesbian, I must of course be secretly devastated that I wasn’t having a girl.

I’m sorry that t.v. and hospital staff can be so annoying. Grr…

Comment by Co

Congratulations on your third magical, wonderful boy who is every bit a miracle, every bit as special and individual as any new little person entering this world. As a mama of a boy, I can honestly say they are the best little creatures in the world.

Comment by christine

Just the fact that you can rant like this means you are well and meanbaby is holding tight. And as the mother of two girls I agree–they are all special.

Comment by Jane

Dear MeanMama,
I am going anon for this one, but…WELL SAID! I have three boys, each of whom was a singleton, horribly high-risk. The first two were born early, and then the third somehow stuck to fullterm despite numerous hospitalizations (STAY PUT, MEANBABYBOY!). Even after that, knowing I’d been on bedrest and drugs to keep the babies in, and having seen us scramble for childcare to sit by wee tiny NICU isolettes, people asked me if I was going to “try for a girl.” My standard answer, if they are a stranger, is to look at them wide-eyed and say “Are you INSANE? Do you KNOW how many girls I had to expose on hillsides to finally end up with three boys???” and keep walking. With family members I simply tell them that we have three CHILDREN because we do not want FOUR. If it’s someone from my husband’s side, where they’re all a bunch of raging homophobes despite his having a couple of gay siblings, I just shrug and say “give me time…I’ll flip at least ONE of them.” My family knows better. This is one of my pet peeves–like what, my boys aren’t good enough for you? I am DEFINITELY done doing time on the high-risk antepartum floor, and I feel like I have as many children as MY little family needs, so what is their problem??? I think it’s one of those asinine things people say, like after I had my second boy when someone suggested I go to China and adopt a third child there, because “they have plenty of girls!” WHAT?!? So now babies with VJs are a hot commodity? I just don’t get it. And what a lot of people, in my experience, fail to consider, is that when you’re twenty-some weeks and hospitalized for preterm labor or PROM, every fiber of your being is focused on keeping that little person inside you safe and healthy–anyone who suggests that THAT baby is anything but perfect and welcome and lovingly anticipated is liable to get a pitcher of ice water hurled their way.

Comment by AnonForThisOne

I have 3 boys and I got those comments about trying for a girl all the time too. They would usually stop when I would tell them ‘the only thing I regret about having 3 boys is not having 3 more boys’. Having 3 boys is tough but so would having 3 girls. It’s tough not because they are boys but because I have 3 kids. The thing *I* hate about the whole gender issue is how if their dad takes them out and they have odd socks on or what have you, people look at him and smile and say how he’s doing such a good job and trying so hard. But if I were to take them out with odd socks I’d get cold glares because I am a rotten mother. I also hate it when their paternal grandma babysits them and does the dishes after supper. She always tells me she did ‘my’ dishes for me. Like the dirty dishes belong more to me than they do my husband. Whatever.

Congratulations on your 3rd boy, I know he’ll be a pure joy.

Comment by Frustrated Claire

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