We recently found out that the baby in my belly is a boy— boy number three! This news is met with all sorts of reactions, everything from congratulations to laughter to pity. And it often prompts the question… but do you/did you want to have a girl?
Here’s my honest answer: I was excited about the possibility of having a girl and I would love to one day have a girl. But, when I say that, it really has nothing to do with the miraculous little boy inside my belly. He’s my baby. And I already love him so much (and specifically love that he’s a boy!) I’m eternally grateful for him.
The gender of unborn babies has become somewhat of a sensitive subject in our modern culture. In past times and places (and unfortunately, in some places even still today,) a baby might be killed or abandoned, or just plain loved a little less all because of gender. We shudder at this reality and so we try to proactively fight against it. We say things like, “I don’t care either way,” or “all I care about is that the baby is healthy.” But then we still wait with bated breath to hear a baby’s gender or we ask mothers and fathers what they “want.” We try to act like gender is completely irrelevant, but then we feel ashamed if we feel otherwise. Perhaps gender isn’t irrelevant, but rather, less relevant than other things. Perhaps we shouldn’t feel horrible for having any feelings associated either way. Because, in the end, love isn’t really about feelings. It’s about what you do with those feelings.
I care about what gender my baby is. I’m interested. It makes a difference in who they are. It affects our family dynamic. Knowing my baby’s gender helps me know how best to love that baby. It matters. But it should go without saying that it isn’t what matters most. I should be able to care what gender my baby is– I should even be able to admit that I desire to someday have a little girl– without that meaning anything more than it does.
Because there are plenty of things I desire for and plenty of feelings I have about my children. I desire to have a certain number of kids. I desire to experience parenting both genders. I desire to have my children at a certain age. I desire to have them when I want to and not be surprised or caught off guard having one when I don’t feel ready. I desire that my children be healthy. I desire that they be well-liked. I will even admit that I desire that they be physically attractive! I desire that they are fairly easy to parent and discipline. I desire that they don’t have many struggles or sufferings. I desire that they have enough intelligence to not feel left behind in anything. I desire many things regarding my children– some selfless, some selfish, some a combination of both, but pretty much none of them really matter most in the end. Even health. Of course I hope we have a healthy baby. But at the end of the day, gender, health, intelligence, body type, personality– all these things are mere attributes. They aren’t the essence of a person. They aren’t what matters most.
What do I REALLY care about? That I have MY baby. The baby I’m meant to have. The baby who fills a unique place in my heart. The baby I could not have designed on my own. The baby who will complete our family better than any baby I could have imagined. The baby who is meant to be here. The baby I’m meant to love.