Posts Tagged ‘dealing with gender disappointment’

I’ve never had to wrestle a pair of tights onto kicking, squirming legs. Never had to untangle and braid a head of baby-fine hair. Never had to search through vacuum cleaner dust for Barbie’s other shoe.

No, these blessings have never been mine.

But also, I’ve never looked into my daughter’s wide-eyes face and caught surprising glimpses of my grandmother, sisters, mom. Never curled up with my daughter to watch Anne of Green Gables. Never got to lay into her arms my favourite childhood doll.

And probably, most probably, I never, ever will.

Because I have sons, you see.

Three of them.

And two weeks ago, in the cool, dim room at the doctor’s office, my stomach smeared with sticky gel, for the fourth time in my life I heard the words “It’s a boy,”

and with those three small words came the death of a dream.

I didn’t realize it at first.

Yes, I wanted a girl. To dress in tutus and lace, as opposed to dinosaurs and sharks. To shop with. Drink tea with. A little girl who would be like me in ways my wonderful sons could not.

But it’s taken a week

or more

to realize how much more than all that it meant to me.

Taken a week to realize the lifetime of hopes, plans, and expectations that I will have to bury along with my dreams.

When I was 13 I was given a journal. Instead of filling it with the usual teenage drama, I dedicated the book to my future relatives with love. I counted the pages, divided the book into thirds, and over the years filled the first section with photographs of myself, favourite quotes, and information about myself and my family. I planned to pass the journal on to my own daughter on her 13th birthday, and the middle section would be for her to fill out. She, in turn, was meant to give it to her daughter, my granddaughter.

I’ve always been aware of my heritage.┬áThe Brazilian side of my family. The Swedish side. And my place in the long line of women whose blood and genetics I carry in my own body. Those women who sailed to a strange new land to endure the harsh winds of a Minnesota winter. Contend with murderous Frenchmen and barn fires and drought. Or face the cramped conditions and sheer terror of being a foreigner in New York City.

I’ve heard their stories, watched the battles and triumphs that my own mother, aunts, and sisters have faced. I’ve felt my place among them. And I always thought I would one day add to that line with my own daughter.

She’d have my curls, I imagined. And when I married, I imagined those curls would be a wonderous, Scottish red. And when she was old enough, I’d tell her the stories of the women who had gone before her. The Brazilian side, the Swedish side, and now the Scottish side, too.

I’d tell her of the wonderful tapestries that God wove with the lives of these women, and paint pictures in her mind of the beautiful things she, with God’s help, would one day do.


Now I wonder what to do. What to do with that book? Or with the box of dress-up gloves, hats, and scarves? With my American Girl doll? My Mandie book collection?

What will I do with the name? With her name. The name I’ve whispered to myself, scrawled along the margins of my journal. The name of the little girl who will never come to be?

I’ll love my fourth son. Oh, how I’ll love him.

But having a daughter, I’ve realized, was an integral part of all I hoped my life would be. Like getting married, or writing, or seeing the world. It’s hard to imagine a life without any of those things, and it’s hard to imagine my life without her.

The day after I found out, I rose early. Crept through the house, my black Bible in hand, and went to the porch. Sat there a while in the refreshing morning coolness, with the song of the birds and the breeze in the trees.

And I cried. And I asked God why. Why, when I wanted it so much? When it came so easily to others. Even others who didn’t even want their girls.

But I know, from experience, that when God’s providences are not in line with our own desires, that it’s easy to seethe. Rage. Grow bitter inside. And I know all the damage that can do.

And so I’m choosing, though it hurts and I don’t understand it, to accept God’s will for my life. Knowing, believing, though I cannot see it, that God is in the habit of making beautiful things out of dust. Of weaving together strands, which to us seem fragmented and broken, and creating pictures more lovely than we ourselves could ever dream.


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