To the lady at Panera,
As my family sat down to what was guaranteed to be a chaotic lunch, you smiled at me. You meant well, I know you did. However, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen that look a couple of times. In January, my husband and I welcomed baby boy number three and the looks keep coming.
We hurried through our lunch with a game of musical seats, trying to calm the new baby and the constant repetition of “please eat” to our oldest kids knowing our time is limited in public. As you finished your meal, I saw you walking toward us, and I dug down deep for my brave mommy look. You smiled at me and the boys and said so softly, “God bless your heart.” I smiled and said, “Thank you.” I even gave you a chuckle as you said, “At least you didn’t have to buy new clothes.”
As you walked away, I told you to have a blessed day and then tucked my head.
My eyes began to swell with tears. I tried really hard to keep the rivers from flowing. See God bless your heart was so sweet of you to say, and I was thankful to hear that. It was the comment of at least you didn’t have to buy new clothes when I realized you were counting the number of boys in my family, and at that moment, the tears rolled down my face. I blamed it on the hormones of an exhausted mama but the truth is, that was not at all what it was.
You see, you didn’t know. How could you? We were strangers and probably will never cross paths again. You had no clue that from as long as I could remember, I thought I would have a daughter. Everyone gets a boy and a girl, right? How I dreamed of doing her hair for school and dressing her in the cutest of outfits. How I envisioned her blonde ringlets in a ponytail with her embroidered Pottery Barn backpack on her back as she walked into school.
Fast forward through dance class, painted nails, and Barbie dolls and it’s prom season. Her grandmas and I are out shopping with her for the most elegant of dresses. It’s now her wedding day, and I’m there helping her with her veil. As she heads down the aisle to become someone’s wife, we both tear up remembering the memories of the years we have shared.
Years later, she is pregnant—she calls me with questions, and I listen to her excitement and fears as she tells me about becoming a mom. This passion and joy definitely stem from my own mom being one of the most amazing people I will ever meet.
Surely, you didn’t know that as I stroll through the department stores, I always walk in the girl section. I can vividly see a little girl who looks similar to the boys wearing some of those outfits. If you and I sat down to talk, I would tell you I have a Pinterest board titled “Dreaming of a Girl!” I would explain to you that while I’m getting my oil changed or when my insomnia strikes, I pin outfits, nursery decorations, quotes, headbands, and all things girl.
You will never know that at the sheer moment of hearing it’s a boy this last time, my dreams might have been just that—dreams and not a reality of ever having a daughter.
As I sat up through multiple nursing sessions in the first couple of weeks, I prayed, and I don’t mean just like a little prayer. In those moments alone and in pain from a C-section, the real thoughts come out, and I’m not at all scared to share them with you.
I prayed, as a mother of three boys, to find peace.
I wanted to be peaceful in the fact that at this present moment, I am a boy mom. I prayed to be able to accept things I cannot change and remind myself that God gave me this sweet boy. I sang that Blake Shelton song to the baby multiple times when I felt like a failure for hoping he was a girl. I would sing, “God gave me you for the ups and downs. God gave me you for the days of doubt.” I asked that God give me the ability to accept the superheroes, the sports games, and the LEGOs that have left clear marks on my feet.
I was hopeful God would show me the right path to guide my sons to be respectful members of society and walk by faith in all aspects of their life. That he would show me exactly how to raise them to be good husbands and fathers. That they would realize the importance of calling home to their mama on a regular basis when they get older.
But most of all, I prayed for myself and my well-being.
I prayed my heart would accept that I may never know what it is like to be a mama to a girl. That my heart doesn’t break when I have to shop for girl items for baby showers, birthday parties, and other occasions. That my heart doesn’t hurt when I look down in the always messy toy room to see Ninja Turtles, tools, and action figures when I envisioned seeing all of that plus dolls and lots of pink.
However, if you are struggling with infertility, I realize at this moment of reading, you may want to choke me—and I totally get that and respect that. Make no mistake, I realize how blessed I am. This body, although destroyed, carried three, well four, beautiful children. I had a miscarriage of baby number three although that’s a completely different story. I definitely do not need others to count my blessings for me and please know I am not being insensitive to your feelings of wanting a child and not giving a darn about the gender of the baby.
We have friends in our circle who have or are struggling with infertility. I have watched their trials of the massive needles, failed pregnancy tests, and tons of tears. I do not take this job I have been given lightly.
But what I know is this, other people’s opinions of my feelings do not matter. When you envision something and it does not turn out like you thought, there is a time to grieve that dream, to realize your current situation. I am entitled to feel the way I feel even if others do not understand it. Even if you are reading this and thinking whoa, girl, you are being a total snob. However, if you knew me, you would realize that is not me at all.
To the lady at Panera . . . you did not mean to cause any harm. You were the sweetest of ladies, and I’m honored you came over to look at my family. I realize society does not make it easy when a high volume of ads or television shows contain one girl and one boy, and we think that is how all families are supposed to look.
See you are not the first to recognize my family is filled with boys. In just eight weeks, I’ve heard it all: Are you going to try for a girl? Bless your heart, you have three boys! I would rather have three boys than a girl any day. There is a special place in Heaven for mamas like you!
So please, if you see a family in public that is not balanced, smile and tell them how adorable their children are.
Compliment the mom on how she’s got everything together through all of the craziness. Remember your comment about being a boy mom or that boys are way easier than girls may actually cut deep into a wound that needs to be healed. And if I’m being honest, before I realized those comments hurt, I was one of the people who made them and had to learn the hard lesson.
I am a happy boy mom at this point and am learning all things about wrestling, sports, and just how much boys can pee outside of the toilet. What I hope you will take away from this is that nobody gets to tell you that your dreams are not important. They also do not get to tell you how to feel when something does not go the way you thought it would. You have a right to feel however the heck you want, and for me, it was grieving the daughter I thought I would have.
I also hope you realize just because I wanted a daughter, it does not make me any less of a mom. I love these guys with every fiber of my being and devote my life to them. I am truly living simply blessed and am just thrilled with these guys. You see God trusted me to be their mom, and I am honored.
Previously published on the author’s blog