parents

'Yes, I only have daughters and they are more than enough.'

Why are my healthy baby girls seen as not quite enough?

I am the proud mother of three beautiful, healthy daughters. I am also the doting and delighted aunty of four gorgeous, funny and clever little nieces. My mother-in-law is a grandmother to only girls – seven in total, all with ten fingers and ten toes. The women in my family are indeed lucky, we are championed by our husbands, fathers and brothers; we are proud of our families and our achievements.

However, it seems that to the world, something is missing.

When my first two daughters were born, our immediate social network felt the need to comment on the obvious lack of a son. I smiled and said that perhaps one day that would change. Then, before long, I noticed the general public dropping haphazard hints, sometimes even bleedingly obvious bombshells on my husband and I. “Oh poor daddy must feel outnumbered” and “are you going to try for a boy next?” became common threads of supermarket conversations with elderly ladies and cheery passersby alike. At first I didn’t think much of it, but as the shine of my new babies wore off and the tiredness took its toll on my body and mind, the hairs on the back of my neck began to stand on end.

Why were my healthy baby girls not quite enough? What made the combination of two daughters not sit well with others? I was thrilled, my husband over the moon, yet others had decided before they’d even investigated, that surely, we must be planning the impending birth of a son before my cervix had even returned to its usual state.

“Why were my healthy baby girls not quite enough?”

In what decade were we living where having daughters was supposed to be surpassed by the desire for a son? People’s empathic gazes were soon met with deadly evil eyes as I began to get my back up, feeling the weight of each flippant remark building up to what would soon become an inevitable tantrum.

My husband often retorted to people’s comments with defensive attacks to point out the sexist nature of their assumptions. “I’m stoked that my girls are happy and healthy,” he would say, “surely that’s enough”. It became his standard approach to the smiling passersby who clearly had no idea how offensive their tuts and head shakes were. I however would squawk at strangers “which one would you suggest I put back?” I’d ask, sometimes I’d even offend by chiming “excuse me, I didn’t realise we were still living in the ’50s”.

Girls can surf, they can skateboard and they can play soccer for their country. They can cure disease, they can change laws and they can fight famine, war and poverty. Christ, they can drive bobcats and navigate space craft and scuba dive lost vessels if they see fit. I knew it, my husband knew it, and we insisted that our girls would know it to the depths of their beings. I was baffled why people didn’t see things as clearly as I did.

When my third and final pregnancy came into fruition, I was obviously thrilled to be carrying a perfect little being in my belly. But to say that a small part of me didn’t pray that my little jelly bean had a penis would be a lie. I felt the pressure from all angles to provide a son, a nephew and a grandson for my family, to carry on my husband’s name. But for every ounce of me that prayed for a boy, an equal part battled with my reasoning that ‘surly girls should be enough’.

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When my third daughter was born, the exhilaration and relief of giving birth to a healthy child was tainted by my knowledge that the barrage of comments was only now going to come thicker and faster. What on earth was I going to say to people now? Did I have to have another baby just to ‘equal things out’?

” When my third daughter was born, the exhilaration and relief of giving birth to a healthy child was tainted by my knowledge that the barrage of comments was only now going to come thicker and faster.”

Upon investigation, I discovered I was not alone. My sister-in-law has three daughters and she feels the same. A colleague has four daughters and still gets pressure despite having hit menopause. It did strike me as interesting however the day I chatted with a friend about my concerns. She has three sons and she assured me that the comments don’t stop just because they are directed at boys instead of girls. My lightbulb moment came that day, when I realised that people weren’t disappointed in my girls, they were disappointed in the unequal dispersion of private parts. It was like too many vaginas set of the feng shui in their bones and it didn’t sit right. It wasn’t my daughters, it was the symmetry of our family that had been thrown askew for them.

Now when people comment, and believe me they still comment, I simply reply with: “I am such a lucky mummy to have three lovely girls.” My positivity changes my audience instantly. Strangers almost always reveal they’d always wished for a daughter or how envious they were of my lovely brood, complete with curls and bows.

My daughters and I are inseparable. We bake, we dance and we dig holes in the garden halfway to China. We learned to ride a bike together, we ponder life’s big questions, sometimes we sit together and wonder where we’ll be in years to come. We even bathe with daddy and talk about our bodies and discuss what parts do what.

Whenever I can, I assure my growing ladies that I will support them in whatever decisions they make in life. If they want to be a zoo keeper this month, I tell them that I’ll drive them to the zoo every weekend if I have to. If they want to be a hairdresser, a lesbian, or a crazy cat lady, I’ll be there, championing them the way I have been championed by their father, and my father. Girls are more than enough. Boys are more than enough. Scientifically, one microscopic little wriggling sperm beat another, that’s all there is to it. No luck, no Chinese herbs or old wives tales can change that. And I have made peace with what I have been given, I just sometimes wish that everyone would.

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