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

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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.

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