I’m afraid of raising a girl.
I’m 20 weeks pregnant and very soon we will find out the gender of our third child. This is the longest we’ve gone without knowing the sex of our babies and the longer we wait, the more anxious I’m getting. I’m anxious because I’m afraid this baby will be a girl. And I’m not really sure what to do with a girl.
My husband has always wanted a girl; one he is convinced will hang onto her Daddy’s every word like a sunbeam. With both of my previous pregnancies my husband was sure we were having a girl only to find out they were both boys. I, on the other hand, breathe a huge sigh of relief when we see that little arrow on the ultrasound pointing to the boy parts. I joke we’ll have an entire men’s basketball team before he realizes genetics are working against him.
I can deal with boy parts. I had two younger brothers and am now the mama of two little boys. I have a general idea of how to do the boy thing. It was once said, “If you have a boy you only have to worry about one penis, if you have a girl you have to worry about all of them.” I’m not sure if that’s funny or horrifying. Boys are rough and tumble or sweet and sensitive. They wear shirts, pants, and shoes–no accessories required.
The truth is, I’m afraid of having a girl because I would never have wanted to raise myself. When I look back on my teenage years all I feel is dissonance. Huge highs and huge lows with gaps in the middle filled with angsty confusion. And then I picture my youth set in 2013 with the addition of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and Miley Cyrus, and I want to crawl in a hole and die. What would those boys have tweeted as we smoked cloves in a sewer tunnel in the sixth grade? I’d glad there weren’t any Instagram photos of the time I drove through Taco Bell topless on a dare at 1 a.m. I recently saw that pregnancy tests are now locked behind Plexiglas at the drugstore and knew exactly why. Yeah, I was my own parenting nightmare and I was, for what it’s worth, a “good kid.” An honor roll, advanced placement student who bounced effortlessly between cheerleading and theater rehearsal.
There was so much drama, so many feelings. I remember every broken heart, every first kiss, every time I wished I was someone else. While all of my big life decisions ended up being relatively good ones, it wasn’t until my mid 20s that my skin felt like my own.
And it wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I realized raising me was probably even more frustrating than being me.
I recently saw a few 7-year-old girls playing together. They were dressed in neon and sparkles, hair bows and colored rubber band bracelets bouncing along with their steps. Even at 7 there was cattiness and snark–social standards and valley girl twang. They were talking about boys, music, and homework. These are sweet girls with great parents and yet I was scared of them.
Because even with my very small children when I see the future I don’t just see their choices, I see all of the possibilities, implications, dangers and stress each choice might bring. I can’t remember what I talked about at 7, but I bet it was boys, music, and homework. I would have wanted a rainbow loom. And I know raising boys isn’t drama-free, snails, and puppy dog tails but raising a girl just seems… complicated. Body image, glass ceilings, slut shaming–those are the things that flash through my mind when I picture the ultrasound tech saying, “Congratulations! It’s a GIRL!”
My ultimate wish for any pregnancy is a healthy, full term baby at the end of 10 months. I know I will love my third child regardless of their gender and I will learn and adapt to a new personality just like I have done with the two very different boys I’m currently raising.
If this baby is a girl she will have two amazing older brothers. She will have an involved, compassionate Daddy who sees nothing but sunbeams in her eyes. And hopefully while I’m wiping a front butt and a back butt, zipping up pink sleepers and brushing tangles out of her hair, I will learn to let go of the fear of raising myself, and do whatever it takes to raise her. Whoever she turns out to be.