As the waiter in the restaurant came to take our order, he looked down at our newborn child in the car seat next to us.
‘Boy or girl?’ he asked.
‘Boy,’ my husband replied.
‘Aww!’ the waiter said. He may have tutted. I can’t remember. The point is there was condolence in that ‘aww!’.
‘That’s okay,’ he said. ‘As long as they’re healthy.’
How else is a parent supposed to react when a stranger suggests you must feel disappointed by the gender of your child - as if you were hoping for a baby girl and instead the midwife reached into your birth canal and pulled out an orange or a piece of coal?
Seeing our three-year-old son at the table with us, the waiter had assumed we’d hoped our second child would be a girl. We hadn’t. Well, my husband may be a little bit. I wondered if I should feel slightly offended on my baby’s behalf. But everyone is so easily offended these days and I didn’t want to see myself as one of those over-sensitive bores.
Then, former Girls Aloud singer and mum of two boys, Kimberley Walsh came out and said it annoys her when people just assume she didn’t want two boys. Annoying. That’s the word.
The sonographer was able to tell us at 12 weeks into my pregnancy that we were having another boy. I felt thrilled. We already had a blue buggy and lots of baby boy clothes.cBut when I told people, a couple asked ‘are you alright with that?’
When I told them I was, they seemed to search my face for signs that I might be trying to mask some disappointment. It made me wonder why people assume having a boy and a girl is the ideal for everyone? Similar to Kimberley Walsh, I liked the idea of having another boy.
The tightwad in me hopes my second son, Reuben, will be drawn to the same toys as his older brother, Odhran, so I don’t have to fork out for new stuff and the lazy side of me hopes they’ll enjoy the same sports and activities so I don’t have to spend Saturdays dropping one off here and the other off there.
Also, I’ve never relished the idea of having a teenage daughter. Girls of that age seem more psychologically complex than boys and have more pressures to contend with. But mostly I liked the idea of another boy because I like to imagine a close brotherly relationship with my sons as they grow older.
I’m not bothered about living in a predominately male household. I grew up in a house with all girls and it never felt too feminine. Still, people express this odd belief that it’s best if the genders are more balanced.
My husband and I had barely left the hospital with our second son when people were already saying things like ‘you’ll have to try again for a girl.’ They meant well, but I disliked any slight suggestion that we’d somehow been unlucky.
My son’s a little smiler and at 11 weeks old, sleeps right through the night from 10pm until 7am. That’s top prize if you ask me. If we do decide to have another child it will be because we want another child. Not because we want a girl.
A friend of mine had two boys and desperately wanted a girl. The thing is she and her husband didn’t particularly want another child. Of course, they ended up having a boy and there was this sense of ‘oh well, you’ve just got to take the hand you’re dealt.’ When I asked her why she wanted a girl so badly she explained that because she was best friends with her mum she wanted to recreate that bond with a daughter of her own. I couldn’t help but feel the relationship she shared with her mum was more down to them having similar interests and personalities than the fact they shared the same gender. The thing she felt she was missing out on may never have come to pass if she had given birth to a girl.
My mum has four daughters and despite what people might imagine there is nothing ‘girlie’ about her relationship with any of us.
I understand that gender is important for some parents. But you’re wrong if you assume that every mum walking down the street with a toddler boy at her side and a baby boy in a pram secretly wishes that baby had been a girl.
Written by Laura Brown
Now read: 10 celebrities who became mums at a young age
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