When people find out I'm pregnant again, the most common reactions is "Oh, trying for a girl this time?"
This type of comment echoes the thought process that I frequently see on one of my Facebook pregnancy groups. Many women say that they would only have another baby if they could be assured about the gender of their next child.
This bothers me. A lot.
A baby is a baby is a baby. A baby is a person. An individual. A soul. A blessing. A wonderful, (mostly) rewarding adventure. A responsibility. We are fortunate to live in a country where women and men have the same rights (although some would argue that we are still not equal- but that's another post). Why the heck does it matter what kind of genitals our babies have?
People may say, "I want a girl so that I can buy dresses and dolls." Some people may say, "I want a boy so that his father can take him to baseball practice and teach him to fish." Really? Are these the reasons we care so much and fret so much about the gender of our children? These worries are frivolous. And even if you got your girl or your boy, there is no guarantee that your child would have the interests that you want him/her to have. There is no guarantee your daughter will want to wear dresses or date boys or play with dolls. There is no guarantee your son will want to play ball or that he will be the pristine image of the boy you so desperately want.
This type of thinking just reinforces silly gender stereotypes. It tells society that gender matters. That gender determines personality and character and quality. Gender does none of these things. Gender merely determines how one reproduces. It says nothing of the individual.
I tend to think the underlying reason for caring so much about gender is not about our children at all. It's about ourselves. And our desire for the picture perfect family. And our strive for the picket fence at the end of a peaceful cul-de-sak. I think we have it backwards. Parenting is not about ourselves (although we are rewarded in so many ways from being parents). Parenting is about being entrusted with a beautiful, fresh soul in the form of helpless, needy baby. We are entrusted to raise this person to his or her fullest potential, whatever that may be, whether healthy or sick, boy or girl, good-sleeper or not-so-good sleeper. We don't get to choose the beautiful person that blesses our lives. We are, rather, indebted for the mere opportunity. In the rankings of parenting priorities, our own wants and desires (especially frivolous ones) should fall far towards to bottom.
I felt that I needed to say this before I find out the gender of baby number 3. I have two boys. I would be thrilled to have a third boy. I would also be thrilled to have a girl. I honestly have no preference. I'm not saying I've never looked at those beautiful frilly baby girl dresses at the store and lusted after the opportunity to buy one. I have. But in the end, I know that baby number 3 is an individual apart from his or her gender. And that I'm going to celebrate whoever he or she is. And I'm no doubt going to love him or her the same no matter the sex. So why does it matter?
People often hear me say that I love boys. It's true. I have two boys. I love my boys. Boys are all I know right now. And I love it. So, yes, I love having boys. But if I had two girls, there's no doubt in my mind I would be pontificating the joys of having girls. If I had a boy and a girl, I would be reflecting on my love for having a boy and a girl. It's that simple. My love for boys is not exclusive of a love for girls. I just have no girls to love at the moment.
I wanted to post this now because if it turns out I end up with a girl, I anticipate that people will react by thinking, "easy for you to say, you have a girl and boys." So I felt like this post would be more genuine if I posted it while there is still a 50-50 chance that the gender could go either way.
I guess my ultimate point is, we should have babies because we are open to the idea of caring for, nurturing, loving, and teaching another individual for the rest of our lives, whoever that individual may be. We shouldn't predicate our desire for children based upon what their sex will be. Someone more divine than ourselves gets to choose what our family looks like. We are just lucky enough to be blessed with babies to hold, children to nurture, and individuals to love, no matter who they turn out to be.