Today I am yet again reminded that I have failed. I am only a mother of boys. Four out of five of my family are boys – I am the only girl. While every baby is a joy and a blessing, gender disappointment is still real and still hurts. It is another thing we don’t talk about like bullying and suicide.
I have knitted the pink blanket, brought the girls clothes and dreamed of the dolls house I would buy. Instead I dyed my blanket and became an expert in toy cars. I have been excluded from the girls things, the girls only events and listened to the ‘woman are the future speeches’ (yes I really believe my boys are the future and are important too).
Gender disappointment for me is a feeling of failure at achieving something/having something I always thought I would and being excluded and left out. I am very aware that I have three amazing beautiful and healthy children – I am so lucky, but a part of me will always be sad I never had a daughter. It is a club that I always thought I would join but never can.
The best explanation I have had of gender disappointment is comparing it to travel. Imagine spending your whole life dreaming of visiting Paris (for example). You plan what you will do there, dream about what it will be like. Further to this everyone around you is going there, talking about how amazing it is, constantly pointing out the things that you can only experience in Paris. Paris becomes the promised land- something wonderful. You try everything you can to visit there, yet you can never go there (no matter how hard you try or how many times you try). Instead you end up either in some strange destination or at home, you make this best of this but everyone around you seems determined to point out what you have missed out on, and how you don’t matter because you have never been there, and of course you mustn’t talk about how your failure exists or makes you feel. You are told that what you feel is wrong and that you are just negative and ungrateful.
I am making progress with letting go of my daughter dreams, I take joy in my boys. I am trying to raise them to be caring, loving and gentle rather than aggressive and macho. I am raising them to be the best possible people not the best boys.
I am trying to let go of being excluded from pigtails, dresses ( don’t get me started on how two thirds of clothes in shops are for girls), dollhouses, princess books, fairies, planning a wedding (the picture of watching my husband walking a daughter down the aisle), being a maternal grandma (supporting a daughter through pregnancy and parenting) and everything that goes with having a girl.
Yes, there are so many things you can do with boys, not just girls. We sing loudly to Adele together (yes they are sad I didn’t take them to the concert). They have dolls (Bubba Doll Doll is very well travelled, and the source of much stress, encountering dogs and needing to wear pyjamas every night), they have pink and love glitter. I am buying my dream dollhouse, but in the end I still only have boys.
Some days it still just hurts. Today it hurts. Another thing to add to the list.