I would have been an amazing boy mom. I’ve been an athlete all my life. I prefer villains to princesses, dinosaurs to dolls. I was the neighborhood tomboy, the only girl playing Wiffle ball and roller hockey with the local boys. Growing up, my best friend was my little brother, and he is woven into every memory of my childhood. I have always preferred male company.
When they pulled our third baby from my body and announced she was a girl, I whispered, “Of course.” We had decided not to find out the baby’s sex, but I had felt all along the baby was a girl. I just knew. I marvel at her now, almost a year old, and cannot imagine her as anything other than who she is. I can’t picture her as a boy.
But I’ll admit it—I wanted to be a boy mom so much it hurt.
But I’m not a boy mom—I’m a mom of three wild and beautiful little girls.
As a mom of multiple healthy children, I feel guilty admitting this. Many parents are unable to conceive, and I have been blessed with healthy children. But I think it’s OK for parents to mourn not raising a child of a certain sex. If I never have a boy, I will allow myself to mourn not raising a son. A mom of all boys should be able to mourn not raising a daughter. We need to be OK with these feelings and breathe life into them.
In the wake of Kobe Bryant and his daughter’s death, “girl dads” trended since Bryant had four daughters. Not a day passes that I don’t see #girldad or #boymom. I think I understand the fascination with these labels, but something in me rejects them. Maybe it’s because I feel a pang of jealousy every single time I see them. Maybe it’s because I think it shouldn’t matter what kind of mom or dad we are.
After our third daughter was born, I played the song “That’s My Daughter in the Water” on repeat without understanding why. I’d listen to it alone, my skin covered in goosebumps and my eyes full of tears. I needed to hear it over and over. But the tears weren’t due to sadness. They were brimming with the wild and inexplicable love I felt for my girls—this massive, all-consuming love that could swallow me whole. My daughters.
I can tell you with utmost certainty that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to loving children.
Imagine a curious redhead spinning in circles in sunbeams, giggling with delight upon seeing and making shadows for the first time. A clumsy toddler climbing the steps and clapping chubby little hands with joy. Imagine a child crying over a boo-boo and needing kisses and hugs. A little kid stomping in puddles and chasing ducks and wiping out in the mud. A newborn baby asleep in your arms. When you imagine these children, does it matter if they look like girls or boys? Of course not.
My children march through this world, brazen and courageous and confident. They are forces of nature. I tell my husband all the time, “Look. Look at them. My God, they thrill me.”
I cannot wait to see who they become. Every day, I talk to them about being strong, brave, and kind. I tell them I am proud of them. I dislike the pink, sparkly, princess world that our culture rams down little girls’ throats, and I want them to grow up knowing their worth is not defined by typical female standards. I tell them all the time they don’t need to wait for a prince to be happy.
If I can help it, I want them to be different from me and my generation.
I spent a long time defining my worth by how others felt about me. I spent much of my life doubting myself and trying to be perfect for someone else. I held back; I made myself smaller.
I want them to have my husband’s confidence and my kindness. And I hope they can define their lives by more important notions than how they look in a bathing suit and what their peers think of them. I hope they’re like one of my close friends who isn’t afraid to be different, trying out bold hairstyles and forgoing make-up. And if they want to be traditionally girly, fine. But I hope it’s because it’s truly their want and not a societal expectation.
If we are fortunate to have another baby someday, it won’t be because we are trying for a boy. Instead, it’ll be because we want another child, another little human . . . regardless of gender.
And if I have all girls, I expect them to be like Gigi, Bryant’s daughter, who upon hearing someone tell her dad he needed to have a boy to carry on his basketball legacy, leaned over and whispered, “I got this, Daddy. You don’t need a boy for that.”