dealing with gender disappointmentI was happy to have a girl. I wanted a girl, I don’t mind admitting it, and I was happy when it came true. I didn’t have any predisposed notions about what girls were like or what boys were like, I just – for some reason I can’t justify – wanted a girl.

That said, a boy wouldn’t have been unwelcome or met with disappointment. Your child is your child, right? Who cares what kind of junk it sports? Well, apparently not everyone feels that way. I’ve met a few of them personally.

The ones who act completely deflated when they find out they are having a son and not the daughter they longed for. The ones who give clear a preferential treatment to the sons they wanted and the daughters they didn’t. The ones who will tell you, when you are pregnant, that you will be either lucky or doomed if you have one or the other:

They might say, “Boys are rambunctious and girls are sweet.” or “Girls are so much work. So sensitive. Boys are easy going.”

Well, I call bullshit on all of that, and on this little gem I came across this morning, where a mother opines that despite desperately wanting boys, she had three girls and a boy instead. In it she chronicles a day where she had only boys to care for:

“Due to arrangements for beach activities, I ended up looking after just my son, nearly eight, and a friend’s little boy, aged ten. Blimey, it was brilliant, easily one of my top ten best parenting days ever.

‘Do you want to play crazy golf?’ I asked them. ‘Yes,’ they replied in unison.

The version of this conversation with my girls (aged ten and nearly 12) would have gone something like this.

Me: ‘Do you want to play crazy golf?’

Them: ‘When? Where? Who with? Can we have an ice cream, too? Do we have to walk there? What will we do afterwards? Can I go first? I’m not playing if she goes first.’”

Earlier on in the post, the author touches on something very important:

“My relationship with my son is the easiest of my four maternal love-fests (crikey, I said that out loud). Which has no doubt influenced my continuing daydreams of being ‘a mum of boys’.”

I’d like to suggest that she has that backwards. Her continued daydream of parenting only boys likely influences the “ease” of her relationship with her son. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy; a person assumes one gender is worse, amps themselves up for that, and then repeats it over and over again when the child of the offending sex does something challenging, then rolls their eyes and says, “see?”

Maybe her day at the beach was easier because she had two kids instead of four. Maybe it’s because the accompanying child wasn’t a sibling but a friend. Maybe it’s because her entire outlook was sunnier because she finally got her wish – nothing but boys to look after.

I understand being disappointed if you have a baby that isn’t the sex you were envisioning. Every daydream and scenario and that adorable name you had in your mind is either off the table or requires adjustment.

Sometimes my daughter is extremely sensitive. Sometimes my lovely fake nephew is rambunctious. Sometimes it’s flipped.

I’ve cared for lots of kids in the past. Some of them fell into stereotypical gender roles. Sometimes they didn’t. I’ve met boys who were sweet and tender and cried very easily and girls who were fearless and loud and couldn’t sit still. Most kids will fall somewhere in between that because children are actually people with personalities, as shocking as that sounds.

I can say this: if you expect your daughter to be a whiny drama queen and your son to be a loud, obnoxious handful, you probably won’t be disappointed. Kids have a way of trying to live up to your expectations.

(Image: Katrina Elena/Shutterstock)