I wanted to have a girl. For starters, I was a girl once, so in theory I know how to raise a girl – or rather how I was raised, which I wanted to modify. From the start I had to hope for the best (my husband will stay with me for a while and will help me) and prepare for the worst (he will not, I saw a few families break under the strain of a new baby). I had no idea how to raise boys.

The medics did not tell us the sex of our future child, a general policy in case the parents decide to abort a girl. However, at some point during pregnancy I realized that I cannot call my fetus “she” or non-gender “baby.” I did not buy pink which I hated, it seems, all my life and tried to stick to gender-neutral green and yellow.

During the labor when I saw his little balls and penis sliding out of me, I said “The father-in-law will be happy.” He did not say this much, but I could feel that he would have liked a grandson, to carry his surname through the ages etc. Frankly, I was disappointed.

The advantages of having a boy started to accumulate after this. No pink in the house. The in-laws bought a blue pram as a present. Friends and family presented him with trains and tracks, and books about cars. I like to think that I would have bought all this for my daughter, but I did not have to deal with dolls. Or with long hairs, or frilly dresses, while I am “jeans and t-shirt,” “brush and go” woman.

I survived my son’s early and continued interest in cars and his clumsy attempts to play football, which I do not care about. I think that princesses and ballet, and horses would have been worse.

His father did stick around and one of his proudest achievements was to teach our son to pee, while standing. I still remember shock on the faces of other parents when he announced this during a play-date.

I fully understood the enormity of my luck in having a boy only after he became 12. My friend has a daughter, who is a year younger than my son is, and for a while, I could only envy my friend. Her daughter had better results in school, she played music instruments, she played tennis, and she drew for a nation-wide competition and won a prize. She got into a selective school, while my son was good in math and science but had an appalling handwriting and did not want to take part in any competition, preferring to play computer games. My friend’s major complaint was only about the amount of money she had to spend in “boutiques” for her daughter’s attire, while my son never complained about his bog standard sweats.

This all changed. The girl, with a new teenager confidence decided to quit tennis and violin. She refused to join the math club and announced that she will be a musical theatre actor, not a Cambridge educated investment banker as her mother wanted. According to her mother, the girl spends seemingly all her spare time texting in her room.

My friend is a scientist, just like myself; the girl went to all natural history museums and interactive technology exhibitions imaginable. I also have a male friend; he and his wife are raising three girls. All of them love pink and Disney princesses. I suspect that my intentions to raise a non-girly, intelligent girl would have met the same end.

Meanwhile, it is not as if my son does not text a lot or sulk, or does his homework only under duress, but additionally to gaming and sulking, he writes his own computer game (hooray!). He suddenly and independently improved his writing by participating in a teenage Reddit politics forum (I am interested in politics as well). He also goes to a swimming pool and sometimes for a run with his father. Moreover, my son wants to become a chemical engineer, so fingers crossed.

That is where we are now. I do not fear that he will become pregnant. I do not fear that he will decide to pursue his dream of musical theatre. I also have free technical support and consumer advice on all matters digital and electronic. We will deal with his reluctance to take shower like the one we have dealt with a moderate mid-childhood bed-wetting – one day at the time.

So thank you, an anonymous, Y-chromosome carrying sperm, for being faster than the rest of them – you gave me a son.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Vicki Doronina

Vicki Doronina is a biologist and a freelance copywriter. She was born in Belarus and lived through the downfall of Soviet Union. Using her free socialist education and capitalist charity for yet more education, she became a scientist. She works as a Technical Officer at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and in a family unit of husband and teenage son. Her writing appeared in Science (Careers), The Scientist and biotech blogs as well as in Russian and Belarusian media outlets. She can be found online at her blog at https://doroninavicki.wordpress.com/ and twitter.

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading