“Are you going to find out the gender?”
I was asked this question in almost every conversation I had with someone regarding my pregnancy. I would hardly finish letting someone know that we were expecting before she was curious about the gender question. It seemed that everyone and their best friend had an opinion about finding out the gender of our baby.
From telling us to keep it a surprise to letting us know of all the old wives’ tales about determining gender, it seemed that everyone had an opinion on our decision as to whether or not we should find out in advance. I had people telling me that if I threw up it would be a girl, if I craved sweets than definitely a boy, and if I held a coin on a string over my belly and it swung a certain way it was most certainly this gender or that.
It seemed that everyone around me became a bit obsessed with guessing and prodding at the gender question.
For my husband and me, it wasn’t a huge debate. We had already agreed that we were going to find out the gender at our twenty-week anatomy scan. It seemed to make sense in order to prepare for the baby and to get the surprise in advance. We nodded along with those who disagreed with our choice and promised the excited that we would let them know the results.
As the twenty-week mark approached, my anticipation continued to grow. Would this be a little girl or boy who would change our lives forever?
What I did not anticipate was my whole world shifting at the mention of our little babe’s sex.
As the ultrasound tech moved her wand over my stomach, stopping to take pictures and making small talk, I found myself relaxed and calm.
“I can definitely tell which gender,” she quipped, promising she wouldn’t say before my husband could join.
As Brandon came in, I could feel his excitement. Who says its only a surprise if you wait for the birth!? He held my hand and came close to the screen as the tech pointed out our little baby squirming and moving around.
“It’s a girl,” she shared.
Brandon stayed quiet, smiling broadly and holding back tears. I knew he was overwhelmed by the excitement and newness of raising a daughter. I carried on, smiling and squealing, overcome with joy that we were having a little girl.
After cleaning off we left the office, both a bit shocked and thrilled. It was only as I approached the car that the weight of my new reality finally settled.
I would be raising a daughter.
The fear of failing my little girl became evident. What kind of woman did I want to be for this little girl? How could I show her love and grace if I didn’t do the same for myself? How can I expect her to be kind to others, caring about the people around her if I so often go through life not noticing my neighbour? How might I fend off insecurity and fear for her when it pops into my mind so often about myself?
I instantly felt ill equipped to be a mother to a daughter.
As the weeks wore on and I began adjusting to this idea, this shift in perspective, this weight of responsibility, I began to recognize that I do not have to have it all together. I began to realize the beauty in allowing my daughter to teach me. It came to mind that there is no training ground for motherhood, no way to fully prepare and I began to give myself permission to learn with this baby girl rather than simply take on the pressure of being an expert on womanhood.
I know that I will make mistakes. I’m sure that if you are reading this and have children of your own you are nodding along with me. I’m sure you can think of five mistakes you’ve made today! But isn’t this the beautiful thing? That we can learn in the messiness, that there is no requirement or expectation from a child to be a perfect parent. My heart has already grown to encompass this little life within me, and I am encouraged that through every tear of frustration I will cry, every feeling of failure I will have, and every snapped response that didn’t come out right, I can and will continue to learn and to teach about forgiveness and grace – both for her and for myself.
So here’s to raising a daughter, something I continue to do internally at this point. I know it will be challenging, I know I will want to continue to be better for her, but I also know that we will learn together, growing and developing through every sleepless night, every boy who says something mean, and every negative thought about ourselves. Let us give ourselves the grace that we would want our children to have. Let us not become so worried that we miss out on the wonderful. Let us watch ourselves through the eyes of a child and see who they see. I need to let myself enjoy the journey, loving myself in the process, and perhaps you do too.