As the mom of two young boys who rarely leaves the house for anything not grocery, work or child related I will readily admit my grasp of current terminology and slang is a bit behind. Not ‘Unbreakble: Kimmy Schmidt’ behind but pretty close. As a result, I actually had to look up a term I heard in a recent conversation, thank you Urban Dictionary, and the definition left me fuming. Let’s examine it shall we? The term was ‘The Million Dollar Family’.
For those of you not in the know let me catch you up; the ‘million dollar family’ is the ultimate realization of the 1950s primary school reader. A happily married Mommy and Daddy with two kids, specifically one boy and one girl. This is an actual term, used by actual real-live people. Apparently, unbenownst to me, this is the standard that all procreating women should strive towards, the baby-making ‘jackpot’ as it were. It implies that a family couldn’t possibly be happy with one child, or two children of a single gender, or more than two kids…either that or they should just accept that their family will just be ‘sub-standard’ when compared to ignorant social ‘ideals’.
I realize that I use this blog, for the most part, to vent on issues that bother me as a mother, and as the newly minted mother of two children of a single gender this one sure takes the cake. For some reason there are a lot of people out there, mostly women, who can’t understand why I’m not utterly devastated that this time I didn’t get my ‘little princess’. To be fair I know there are women out there who have a strong preference for the gender of their child when they find out they’re expecting, but personally I am definitely not one of them.With all the issues we had staying pregnant with V, when A and I finally made the decision to try again we had absolutely zero preference on the gender of our new addition. Really, it’s true! If you’d asked us at the time our only two hopes for baby #2 would be ‘healthy’ and ‘ to term’ and luckily we came pretty darn close to both.
However, as soon as we started spreading the news of our newest arrival to friends and family, the number one response to our annoucement was ‘Oh this time you must be hoping for a girl!!’…
Then, prompted by the awkward silence caused by me staring at them open mouthed, many people continued putting their foot farther down their throats by listing off the various ‘benefits’ to having a little mini-me around the house: I can buy cute clothes, I can sign her up for dance or cheerleading, I can take her to get pedicures, I can play Barbies again!
Now all of these are incredibly awesome and cute, and should definitely be appreciated by those mommies of beautiful little girls, but seriously…that’s your gender preference deciding factor? Hairbows?? Have you seen how dapper V looks in his blazers and newboys hats? (Please diregard any pictures of him on Facebook/Instagram where he’s dressed himself….). V has already asked us to sign him up for dance class (He wants ballet pants, no tutus here) and I’ve learned to appreciate the intricasies of the Superhero action figure story-lines…same deal as Barbies honestly but often with less accessories and their heads (typically) don’t come off. Also, as the mom of two, it will likely be 5 years before I’m anywhere in the vicinity of a spa again and believe you me, as much as I love my kids, when I’m going for me time it’ll most definitely be for ME!
Now don’t get me wrong, when we found out we were pregnant I would have been equally ecstatic with a little miss but the purpose of us going for round #2 wasn’t to ‘try’ for the girl. What I can tell you though is that by the time I hit 20 weeks and had my gender ultrasound I was OVER THE MOON that we were having a second boy. My kidney issues had started, plus I was still sick to my stomach, getting larger by the second and had already been on short term leave for over 3 months, which meant my income was a fraction of what it typically was! When I saw ‘It’s a BOY!’ on that little notecard (A wasn’t able to be at that ultrasound so my OB wrote us a note) my first thought was ‘Thank GOD! Now I don’t have to shop!!’. I could just drag the totes of baby boy gear from the basement, wash it and we were good to go! Baby #2 was going to be cheap and easy! And honestly he is…this kid practically has nothing new for himself, beyond the thoughtful gifts we received from family and friends. He’s going to be a pro at hand-me downs…until he outgrows his brother…and then V will have to get used to it.
There are amazing benefits to having two kids of the same gender! We recycled pretty much everything from V with the exception of things he’d decimated, the cat had ruined or snap-up sleepers (don’t even get me started, those nightmare inducing things deserve a blog post of their own.) We also know exactly what to expect with diaper changes, boy growth curves and development, and other major decisions that relate specifically to boys, if you know what I mean… It also meant that my husband gets to satisfy both of his inner 9 year olds by creating one epic Blue Jays room and an equally epic Habs nursery (He maintains 1993 was the best year of his life). We are a boy centered household and couldn’t be more happy. I am the number one girl in 3 guys’ hearts and I never lack for snuggles, compliments or dance partners, how can you beat that?
Now, on a more serious note, ‘gender disappointment’ is a real thing and affects some pregnant mothers to varying degrees.These women have their hearts set on one gender, only to discover their child is quite the opposite. This is another one of the reasons I bring up the topic of the ‘ideal’ mix of kids, and terms like ‘million dollar families’. Sadly some people don’t think before they speak and as a result can be seen as well-meaning but insensitive. We’ve all seen it! Let’s think…what if you had a friend who was really hoping for a baby girl the second time around? Or even the first time around!?! It doesn’t mean they are ‘ungrateful’ for the beautiful new life they’re bringing into the world, or that they don’t love and adore their new baby. What it does mean is that they are essentially ‘mourning’ what they thought they had and you making comments about how ‘boys are still really cute’ isn’t going to help. For them this comment reads as ‘Boys are still really cute, although not quite as cute as baby girls’ and although you may not have meant that at all…it’s hard to argue with pregnancy hormones and disappointment.
There is also a significant amount of shame associated with gender disappointment. Most women obviously understand that you should be over the moon with either gender so long as your child is healthy, but it’s hard to quiet that inner voice that keeps insisting you dwell on what you ‘thought’ you had. Haven’t heard the term before? I’m not surprised because if any one of these women actually said, “Yes the baby is healthy but I’m a little upset it’s a boy/girl’ they’d be mocked and gossiped about. Everyone knows the only socially acceptable answer to the question ‘What gender are you hoping for?’ is ‘Either one, it doesn’t matter so long as it’s healthy!’, even if for some women this isn’t necessarily true. My advice is to stay away from gender comments or ‘predictions’ unless you’re asked. Certainly don’t add your two cents on someone’s Facebook announcement with comments about a preferred gender and for goodness sake don’t make an idiotic comment on a gender announcement itself! Stick to a sincere congratulations for a healthy and happy pregnancy because that is honestly the bottom line.
Another ‘touchy’ subject is the number of kids you choose to have You must know by now that everyone will have an opinion on everything you do as a parent, even if you choose never to have kids! It astonishes me that more people don’t realize that it is pretty much never appropriate to ask someone when they’re having kids, when they’re having more kids, etc. You have no idea what’s going in someone’s life and the answer might not be something they want to get into. Maybe they’re struggling with infertility. Maybe they’ve had a loss. Maybe they are dealing with a genetic counselor for possibly devastating anomalies. Maybe they just don’t want to! Unless you’re one of the two people involved in that decision (or an x-ray technician, ER nurse or paramedic) it’s none of your business. I have seen people’s anniversary announcements come up on Facebook and without fail, if it’s been two years of married bliss and no kids, someone is going to make a comment. Same with people who announce their third, fourth, fifth bundle of joy. Someone always has to be the joker to add ‘You know how this happens right??’. So long as you and your partner feel like you can emotionally, physically and financially handle more kids, feel free to do as you will!
As for personal experiences with this type of questioning, I actually had one Interventional Radiology tech (who had seen me struggle through my entire pregnancy including dry heaving in the procedure room while a doctor rammed surgical tubing into my kidney) ask me when we would be trying for the girl. After I pulled my jaw off the floor and replied ‘Never’ I was even more angry when she answered with ‘Oh, we’ve heard that one before’ before wandering away, giggling to herself. Lady, I appreciate that you think this is coming from a good place but when I say ‘never’ I really, truly mean it. Two children is what we’ve decided is best for us and our family. Pregnancy has alternately almost killed my child and then me. It, therefore, is not a risk I’m willing to take for myself, my husband or the beautiful children I’m already fortunate enough to have. I am lucky enough to have lots of friends with children on the horizon and a giant family who does their part to contribute to the worlds population. I’ll never be short of baby snuggles and toddler giggles, but I will be giving up sleepless nights, stretch marks and baby spit-up as August grows into the precious boy I can already see developing under those goobery cheeks. And I’m really honestly okay with that. So long, ‘million dollar family’…you just aren’t for us! Every family unit is perfect in their own way, who needs out-dated ‘slang’ to set up a completely unnecessary class system that only serves to alienate over half the families I know.
To wrap this one up, I just want to send a public service announcement out into the world at large and remind people that the purpose of having children isn’t to ‘collect’ the matching set, or fulfill socially acceptable census statistics, it’s to grow your family in love!