MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

The ‘Million Dollar Family’: Or ‘When Are You Trying for the Girl?’ March 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 6:46 pm
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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’.

V's Toronto Blue Jays Room

V’s Toronto Blue Jays Room

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.

V not loving solids. Note the highchair...

V not loving solids. Note the highchair…

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!

Check out the cuteness of boy clothing!! Admittedly a little short on frills and bows, but you have to admit is adorable!

Check out the cuteness of boy clothing!! Admittedly a little short on frills and bows, but you have to admit is adorable!

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.

Baby A in the very same high chair! Yay for hand-me downs!!

Baby A, prepped for solids, in the very same high chair! Yay for hand-me downs!!

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?

V in his swing after sampling strawberries (in a very poorly chosen outfit for that type of snack I know)

V in his swing after sampling strawberries (in a very poorly chosen outfit for that type of snack I know)

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.

A in the same swing, doing what he does best...chillin'

A in the same swing, doing what he does best…chillin’

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.

Go Habs Go!

Go Habs Go!

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!

A in his Habs Crib

A in his Habs Crib

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.

Have I mentioned we love baseball?

Have I mentioned we love baseball?

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!

Nothing but love between these two!

Nothing but love between these two!

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Gender Identity and V: Planes, Trains and Pink Automobiles December 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 7:22 pm
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Coming up to the Christmas season, we are (I freely admit it) gearing up to spoil our little guy. He’s finally reached the age where he ‘gets’ Christmas, Santa, Family and of course, Presents! So we’re really taking the time this year to ask him what he’d like and doing out best to accommodate without turning him into one of those spoiled, entitled kids who write the pages long letters to Santa. Now, although V gets the concept of presents, he still has no idea about money so what he asked for isn’t that crazy. He has asked Santa for a Habs sweater and some little Super Mario Bros figurines he saw at Walmart. Consider it done tiny man!

Now as the chief shopping officer in our small family I was struck at the divide I found when I entered the ‘Toys’ aisle at our local store. Once you leave the aisle of ‘Infant and Toddler’ selections that are usually made up of generic simple, bright and loud, you have to choose a ‘path’. Do you want the ‘Girls’ aisle full of Barbies, Disney Princesses and Littlest Pet Shop? Or do you want the ‘Boys’ section brimming with Nerf Guns, Ninja Turtles and Tonka trunks? Um what? Okay I understand that there is a social and gender bias in the toy market, but I was unaware that that decision needed to be made as soon as your child fell out of the 12-36 month bracket. Apparently gender neutral is fine for infants and toddlers but as soon as they reach the age of 3+ then be prepared! The sky will fall around your feet if your baby girl loves to play with cars and dinosaurs and your little man likes to play with a shopping card and pink vacuum! I’m really no social activist or feminist but the divide is so spectacular and obvious it’s hard to let it go unremarked.

Rockin' the pink stripped shorts and his Pooh Bear

Rockin’ the pink striped shorts and his Pooh Bear

As parents we really let V choose the direction he wants to take with his interests and toys. Now that being said he really is a ‘typical’ boy in that he absolutely loves baseball, hockey, Thomas the Tank Engine, roughhousing and cars, any type of car. He does also, however, tell us on a pretty consistent basis that he wants to be ‘Princess Sophia’ and ‘borrows’ his 8-year old cousin’s purple ‘Pet Shop’ puppies to help drive his garbage trucks. He has a pink ‘Lalaloopsie’ car and when we let him choose which bottle of bubbles he wants we’re just as likely to have ‘My Little Pony’ or ‘Hello Kitty’ as ‘Spiderman’ or ‘Cars’. It’s really whatever draws him at the time.

Sample of V's toys 'organized' by gender colours...

Sample of V’s toys ‘organized’ by gender colours…

As another decision we’ve made is that A and I plan to sign V up for T-ball this coming Spring, as baseball is something we’re passionate about as a family. However, we’re also looking forward to the day we sign him up for dance and theatre. A is a great role model for all of this because he’s such a well rounded man! He loves baseball, hockey and tech stuff as much as most guys, but his ‘extra curricular activities’ include acting and sitting on our local theatre’s ‘Board of Directors’. V also has his Aunt K who helps coordinate the local childrens’ theatre group and directs to boot! Heck V was born during a show and became the honourary mascot for the production, so maybe he’ll find joy in performing like his Daddy.

V loves to play 'pirate'. Aaarrrrgh!

V loves to play ‘pirate’. Aaarrrrgh!

Now as all ‘real’ men know, pink is the new black, or so I’ve been told. V has been the proud owner of a few flashy pink t-shirts in his day and he rocks them just as hard as the next toddler. Not saying I don’t love to dress my kid up in a good old fashioned tie and ‘old man’ cardigan for the cuteness factor but I am also totally planning on encouraging him to explore other clothing options to cartoon covered hoodies, stupidly sloganed t-shirts and track pants. Sloppy isn’t stylish my man! Now if only I could convince him to try hats….There’s just something about a toddler in a newsboy cap that makes you do that ‘OMG too much cuteness!!!!!!’ squeal thing…

Pink shirt you say??

Pink shirt you say??

I remember reading a story a few months ago about a little boy who wanted to wear a frilly headband to Walmart and the difficult and upsetting situation the family found themselves in when someone took exception to a baby boy wearing ‘girl’ clothes. We have luckily never run into a situation like that but we do tend to get some sidelong stares when we’re cruising Walmart with V clutching a Disney Princesses bubbles container. The only comment I’ve ever had someone make however was recently at a toy fair that was operating for one week only in our city. I’ve actually worked at this toy fair way back in the day just when I was finishing school, and I’ve made it a point to check it out every year since V was born since it has such amazing deals for kids! This year I was looking for some fun stuff from ‘Santa’ and was blown away when I saw a Dora the Explorer scooter on for just $15! What a deal! I scooped one up immediately and I know when V sees that sucker on Xmas morning he’ll be thrilled! It’s just like his cousin’s scooter so he’ll be able to play with the ‘big’ kids in the summer and to top it all off it features decals of two of his favourite cartoon characters! Dora and Boots! As a parent I was also pleasantly surprised that although the box is pink and purple, the scooter itself is a flashy orange and teal! It is the first and only gender neutralish Dora toy I’ve been able to find. I figured since Santa doesn’t deliver in boxes we’ll just set it up, stick a bow on it and call it a day.

The Dora scooter!

The Dora scooter!

On a sidenote here, those parents who’ve watched Dora know that it is a gender neutral show for the most part. Yes Dora is a little girl but the adventures she has are awesome and usually include trolls, trains, farms, mountains and lakes. It’s fabulous because it appeals to such a wide variety of kids with the added bonus of throwing in some rudimentary Spanish for good measure. On the downside when you go looking for any Dora merchandise it is ALL pink or purple! The shirts have frills, the backpack toys come with makeup compacts, bangles and brushes and the dolls are usually ballet or gymnastic related. Are you kidding me?? So V is the proud owner of a ‘Dora the Explorer’ does Ballet colouring book….

Anyways I’d snapped up the scooter and headed to the cash where the cheerful cashier went to ring it through. She picked it up, exclaimed over the deal and mentioned ‘Well that’s one lucky girl this Christmas!’ I was so stunned I just shot right back with ‘Actually that one is for my 3 year old son’. That put a quick end to any small talk and I really was pretty shocked. Yes I understand that the toy comes in pink and purple packaging but does that really make a difference? Dora is like the Rolling Stones for toddlers and young kids, I really don’t think it matters if the thing was covered in frills and sparkles…although sparkles would stick in the cracks in the hardwood….

What really bothered me later was that that lady’s comment made me second guess my choice for V. I know he’ll like it but I worried that maybe I was buying him a ‘girl’ toy and that the other kids would laugh at him, even though I know he’ll just have a blast whizzing around our complex. Finally I just decided I needed to let it go. Whatever my son likes he likes and people will just have to deal with it! I never ever want to be that parent who asks him to second guess his preferences based on what other people will think. My job as a parent will be to make him strong enough and confident enough to make those choices he believes in and to respectfully stand up for those choices when his colleagues and peers question them, be they social, political, religious etc.

Chillin' with Daddy's friend...getting him started on 'wraslin' young!

Chillin’ with Daddy’s friend…getting him started on ‘wraslin’ young! The size difference in this pic is really what makes me laugh…

I guess to get right down to it, I don’t think that having pink bubbles, playing with dolls or wanting to wear one of the leftover pink tiaras from Aunt K’s bachelorette will turn my baby boy into a girl or have a lasting effect on his preferences later in life. I do, however, think that it will teach him that Mommy and Daddy don’t care what he wears or plays with so long he’s happy and polite. We want him to be an open-minded, confident and cheerful toddler, kid, teenager and man and we’ll love him no matter what. Isn’t that our job as parents? We let V develop his own interests (except for the slight amount of baseball brainwashing) and discover who he wants to be, not what we ‘expect’ of him. He’s pretty awesome all around anyways!

He may not look it but he really does love Ace...

He may not look it but he really does love Ace…

And the Blue Jays brainwashing continues...and no we do not have the whole Jays Shop in his room...pretty darn close though!

And the Blue Jays brainwashing continues…and no we do not have the whole Jays Shop in his room…pretty darn close though!

So to wrap it up, this kid is getting a Cars playset, a Captain Hook ship and a Dora Scooter for Xmas and he’s going to love every darn one. The only thing I expect at the end of the wrapping paper massacre is a thank you!