I haven’t written very much about our daughter besides her birth story. But I guess it’s mostly because we haven’t gotten to the tough stuff yet. She’s our third kid and most of the stuff the first few months is strictly survival. We aren’t dealing with temper tantrums or disobedience. Since she’s not our first, this part feels like a piece of cake most days!
But I wanted to take an opportunity to write down some of my hopes and concerns about having a daughter because they are a little different than the things I think about with my sons.
New Year’s Eve, 2012:
Scott and I stood on either side of a large box which had been stuffed with balloons and streamers. The color of the decorations would be blue or pink. I wore a simple black maternity dress as a statement that no matter what color balloons flew out of that box, I felt very neutral with the outcome. I did not have a feeling one way or the other as to what that baby would be. We’d had the ultrasound that morning and when I saw all of the chambers of the heart beating strong, the perfect curve of the spine and working limbs and organs, I felt relieved and blessed. We had two healthy boys and a third boy would be wonderful. If we were given a girl, I was prepared to learn even more and also ecstatic to know the joys of raising both genders.
The ultrasound technician had written the gender for us on a piece of paper. Without peeking at it, I gave it to my brother-in-law in the strictest of confidence and he took it to have the box filled with balloons at a local Party City. Then he brought the box to a restaurant where were had a delicious Italian dinner with our parents and siblings and of course our boys. The after-dinner surprise was the gender reveal for our baby.
Together, Scott and I pulled the lid off the box. It was all in slow motion to me when a bunch of pink and purple balloons burst out of the box and floated to the ceiling. Everyone squealed with excitement and hugged and congratulated us and each other. I cried. I hugged Scott who said, “You did it! Good job!” This still makes me laugh because his genetic material actually determined the gender. But it was sweet anyway.
The party was over and we were driving home with the boys. I looked back at their sleepy little heads resting on their car seats. I smiled imagining a little girl in the back completing the view from the rear view mirror. “She will be a cool little girl,” I told myself. I had always wanted an older brother, but I am the oldest. I already felt that my little girl would be so lucky to have not one, but two older brothers! She will probably like good music, know about sports, not feel horribly awkward around boys since she will grow up with them. She will have two protectors when she goes to school even if she ends up being a pathetic nerd like her mom.
Suddenly I was in a state of mild panic that, quite honestly, I am still battling. I know many of the challenges that Grace will have to face. I will have to have “the talk” with her about the birds and bees. I will have to help her shave her legs, and good God, if she’s hairy like me, we might have to start her in first grade! I will have to teach her about self-worth and not look to others to help her determine what that is. I will need to be the bad guy for when she’s in her teens and “all of her friends can do it so why can’t she?” I will have to hug her and find the right words when she gets her heart broken for the first time. I will have to be her non-overbearing (event-planner to the core) mom biting my tongue when she plans her wedding (Meadow Brook Hall is the perfect venue, Grace. I’m already saving up if you want to have it there!)
And if I do all of those things right and she still wants me around when the dust settles, then maybe she will want me to be there for the other big real-life stuff. Because no one ever really appreciates their mom until they are about to become one.
It will be my job to help her during pregnancy and cook her meals if she has horrible morning sickness and I will have to watch her suffer through it, reassuring her that she will forget most of it when she’s holding her baby in her arms. I will be the one she calls when she suddenly realizes how much her life has changed after the baby is born. I will have to remind her that she’s doing a great job and screw what everyone else thinks! No, it doesn’t matter how much chocolate you put in your kid’s chocolate milk, Gracie! You go ahead and put six tablespoons in if it means he’ll drink it! When she second guesses herself at every turn, I will be the one to remind her that if you have your kid’s best interest at heart, you are doing it right.
When I look at her face, I feel as if I am looking over an edge of something so immense and boundless. She can be anything from this point on. She is as nearly close to perfect as a person can be because she doesn’t know about greed or selfishness. She doesn’t feel hate or revenge. She only knows love and trust. I don’t know if she knows what i am saying yet. I’d like to think she does. But I tell her every day she is smart and strong and brave and kind and beautiful. Maybe if I start now, she’ll believe it later.