Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What are little girls made of?

"There was a path across it, and Phillip followed the path.
'Because,' he said, 'I'm more likely to meet Lucy.  Girls always keep to paths.  They never explore'
Which just shows how little he knew about girls"                  E. (Edith) Nesbit

Not very many people know about this amazing author.  She happens to be one of my favorites.  'Five children and It' may well be one of her best known stories since it has been made into several movies, mostly of European origin.  One of the things I have always loved about E. Nesbit is her ability to put into words the things that I am already thinking - of course isn't that the mark of a good author?  In the story above, the boy Phillip is angry because his beloved older sister has married. Now, this man whom she has married has a daughter around Phillips age and he decides from the beginning that he hates her. So when they both go over to the other sides of their dreams into the city that Phillip made from blocks and toys and candlesticks he comes back through and leaves her behind. The remark above he makes to himself when he goes back into the city to find her, not because he likes her, but because that little annoying voice in his head tells him that Lucy is probably lonely and scared and it was his fault she was left behind.

I am reading this story currently to my girls and I stopped and laughed when I read that last remark - you see, I have a pet peeve.

Do you know I have two girls and I am currently pregnant?  Well, the aforementioned fact (having two girls) suddenly becomes news to people when they discover I am pregnant.  Because almost every time someone hears it the first thing they say is "Do you think it will be a boy this time?" Well, first off, how am I to know?  So when I answer as such the answer almost always involves "Are you hoping it will be a boy this time?" Do you want the truth?  I am hoping for a baby!  Though who am I to say it would not be entertaining if a wort hog came out of my nether regions right around the middle of July...but a baby is really what I am going for. 

Please, no offense to moms of all boys.  I am sure you get the same thing just flipped when people look at your family.  But how is it that I am missing out on something, or am not REALLY a mom until  I have a boy?  "Moms of Boys" seem to have a certain stigma about them.  And you will hear it in their voices when talking about their kids vs. others.  It is like there is a competition to see who's are the most rambunctious, the most adventurous, the most BOY.  Where-as to them all little girls sit quetly in their rooms, hair perfect playing with dolls and answering “yes mother dear” when asked to complete a task.

Now, I know that there is likely some truth to the matter.  Boys do play more physically by nature - but what else?  Are they dirtier?  No, not that I have seen.  Are they tougher?  No, we just don't put up with the emotional outburst from them the way we put up with it from girls.  Are they more adventurous?  Hell no!  Does their imagination play involve more bad guy vs. good guy?  Perhaps.  Though my Taylor, as girly a girl as they come, has taken a liking to Star Trek lately and spends most of her free time pretending to shoot Romulans with phasers.  So you tell me.  Ayla LOVES her baby doll - and just this morning she was playing in a box and proudly announced to me that she was "pretending the box was a rocket ship" and proceeded to make all the appropriate sounds needed for such an adventure. 

Now, I am not one to believe that boys and girls are just what we make them.  That we shape them based on our social norms and influences.  But I do think we categorize too much.  Or perhaps it is just me getting defensive.  Perhaps you don't see this taken the other way around as often because rarely do you find a mom wanting to defend to the world her sons right to have tea parties and dance around the room in a tutu - though every single boy who visits us tries on the tutu and gets right in there with the girls.  I am so excited when moms laugh and tell their sons how beautiful they look.  And I admit I cringe when they criticize, shaking their heads and turning their son around saying: "That is not for a boy!"  And why not!?!  They are just pretending after all.  Isn't that what we want?  We are so concerned that our girls not be meek little mice in today's society but we don't allow our boys to just play and then we wonder why they are more violent?

Ok, perhaps I am taking this too far. I don't mean to offend and I know I am taking this to the extreme. I know very few boys that fit that description, and most of the moms I know are amazing.  I would even go so far to say none of the moms I am truly close with fit into the category that has me shaking my head in shame.  Of course, I don't have any boys so who am I to judge right?  Alright - but then they don't have any girls so why is it ok for them?

Can you tell this is something that gets under my skin? 

Mom 1: We are having such trouble with Jimmy lately.  Since he turned 3 he has been hitting me, not playing well with his friends and fighting with his brother a lot"

Me: Yeah, we go through stages like that with our kids too.  Hang in there and be consistent, this things pass.

Mom 1: Yeah, but you have girls so it is a little easier for you.  Boys are just a breed of their own!


Yes, I have had this very conversation.  So now boys are not even human?  A breed of their own?  Of course, I will admit that next to this particular subject, my worst pet peeve is those that are not parents giving parenting advice.  So perhaps when it comes to this subject I really should just keep my mouth closed.  I don't have a boy after all, so maybe I just really don't know.  But you know what?  I may never have a boy, and yes, I do long for one.  So does that mean that I have missed out on a part of life?  Am I doomed to forever walk on one side of the path never knowing the adventures (that apparently are more dangerous and adventure-ish) that lie on the other side?  I refuse to believe this.  I think that God is bigger then that, and I refuse to spend my life wondering "what-if." 

Perhaps this child inside is another girl, and you know what?  I am so beyond happy about that.  But a word of warning to you all, if one of you asks me if I am disappointed it is not a boy I can't guarantee my response will be nice and polite.  I will tell you the answer now.  NO.  I am not disappointed.  You know why?  Because I am not in charge here!  And three girls would tell me that without a doubt these are the kids I am supposed to have.  I am 100% sure that I can be completely peaceful with that. 

Some of you know; from before my brothers and sisters and I were born to when we leave home my dad writes us letters.  I have 4 books written completely to me.  I have not read all of them yet, I have trouble reading past the age my kids are at.  But oh it is so nice sometimes to read, sometimes about the EXACT same shenanigans my kids are going through as something I did myself at their age.  And I turned out ok......right?

One of my books starts this way and I will end with this:

I never would have guessed.  Sarah was such a proper little princess of a baby.  Dainty and polite.  Rarely crying...or so I remember.  Now a three year old, Sarah is the classic little tomboy.  She can't walk, but runs everywhere. she climbs everything and everybody, eats like a football player and argues like a reckless  taxi driver.  When a friend came to visit last week, his comments about Andy (1 year),  
"Isn't it different having a boy around?"  
"There was a world of difference raising my boy and raising my girl.  Even when they were babies."  
"How so?"
"Well, for one thing, Allen was always taking chances, always getting hurt."
"Go on."
"He was louder and messier."
"played with snakes and ate bugs - you know, just like a boy."
"Not like a girl?"
"My girl never did those things."
"Allen sounds much more like Sarah then Andy."
Actually, I think you are good for the world Sarah.  People's thinking gets lazy - people who you least expect sometimes to allow their thoughts to go unexamined.  We all need to be shook up, awoken from our cultural slumber.  I am convinced that heaven will be full of such surprises. 

Perhaps what really bothers me is lazy thinking. Ayla fits that above description perfectly too. I don't want my kids put into boxes. I want them to be free to be themselves.

Do I think this baby is a boy?  Maybe.  Do I want it to be a boy?  Maybe a little.  But if it is not I will be so so so happy with my girl.  After all, boy or girl, this baby is exactly who it is supposed to be.  Just like Taylor, just like Ayla, just like me.


  1. I love this, for 2 reasons.

    first one, which you mentioned in the middle is the comment "that is not meant for boys". Mason is all boy, but he also loves to dress up with his sister in her costumes and play pretend and the thought that people think that this will have some feminine play on his sexuality as an adult is beyond absurd to me. My daughter dresses up at superman and plays super heros with him yet that is cute and being a "tom boy" is perfectly fine, even though she is very girly.

    Second, I have not received the comments about boys vs girls because I a daughter and 2 boys, but I do receive the "wow you started your family young" "you sure have your hands full" and my hairdresser said "every mother needs to get their hair done and looks decent"
    Since when did being a mother of 3 in your late thirties become more socially acceptable then being a young mother in your twenties? or having a large family seem so daunting and make me seem like I'm some non-feminist woman living in the ruling of my husband being pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen. Being a mother is a blessing, and one of the most respectful jobs you can have and each child is such a blessing and they should be viewed that way. If God want's you to be a mother of 3 lovely ladies, that was what was meant for you and it's amazing and if It was the other way around or a mix like mine, it's still perfect. Boys are fun, but so is my daughter and she can hold her own just like her big brother, and he can be just as sensitive and caring as his little sister.

  2. I love this post and as always your sincerity is refreshing and sometimes amusing to me. This post made me laugh :-) I absolutely love your dad's insights. What a precious gift. I would love to do that for my child/children if they come. I have the opposite problem, I am nearing 30, been married nearly a decade and everyone wants to know where the babies are! I think as individuals, we attract the people who will ask us questions based on their beliefs as a sort of testing of our faith. We wouldn't need patience or peace and so on if there weren't people or circumstances to try us. That was mostly a reminder to myself as I often think out loud and in this case in type :-) I always enjoy your posts Sarah!

  3. Thanks both of you! I admit to breathing a sigh of relief I am not alone. I think people will find something to nit-pick no matter what the circumstance. I suppose all we can do is take a breath, smile and vow never to do the same!

  4. I love this post. And of course I'm in the same shoes as Nichole since I do have 2 boys a girl. I have been getting the "do you want another girl?" question all the time- and quite frankly, yes, I would love another girl. I think that it would be good for Mia to have a sister too, but that's what "I" think. If God wants my to have just one girl in our clan then so be it, I'll be okay. I don't want another girl just to have cookie cutter family with 2 and 2 I just want one because I've had names picked out for just about forever and think that God gave me those names for a reason (but I could be wrong- we'll just have to wait and see- I also always saw myself having twins but that hasn't happened yet either:) )
    And having 2 boys right after each other I can say that no matter the genders you have personality differences. Nathian is our dare devil and strong willed one while Lincoln is our gentle spirited, emotional one. It's not because they were raised differently they are just different. And Mia is a person all unto herself.
    To make it even more clear that it's not a gender difference but a child difference you can talk to any mom of identical twins-- whether boy or girl they will tell you that from teh womb they were different. One is more active one is more musical one loves to read one loves to cook ect.... We are all created to be who we are and God doesn't make mistakes.
    Sorry I just hyjacked your post. Love you and miss you and your Balleria and Astronaut, and whether boy or girl I can't wait to find out what little persons God is growing inside our bellies (I hope that someday they will be friends like we are)


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