I'm a Boy Mom & I Don't Need a Daughter to Feel Complete

boy mom

A middle-aged cashier surveys the tribe of loud, blond-headed boys buzzing around me. There are only three of them, but when they're in peak boy mode, they seem legion. "Are you going to try for your girl?" she asks me sweetly. 


Your girl. Your girl. As if I need one, as if I deserve one, as if I will be incomplete without a daughter. I want to throttle her. My sons hear her, hear every word. So I smile Southern-sweet. "We always wanted all boys," I say. "And we got them."

She blinks that startled blink of someone who got an answer she can't quite process. Then the smile comes back. She makes some comment about how sweet boys are, or how they always love their mama, or something equally inane.

When I got pregnant with my first child, I prayed for a boy. I understood the gendered male stuff, the blocks and trains and the need to teach them to respect women. Gendered female stuff? That almost scared the baby out of me. Anorexic Barbie dolls. Bratz dolls. Monochromatic pink wardrobes with touches of purple. When to OK tank tops and makeup. Sexism. I was pregnant, and in my mind, girl = danger in a frilly mauve bloomer.

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I got my boy. And I got another boy. By baby number three, I'd come around on girls -- not that I actively wanted a girl, but I wouldn't have broken down and wept for the future during an ultrasound. I had gone from envisioning terror to the manageable prospect of unfamiliar diaper changes. I had gained enough confidence as a parent to realize I could deal with either gender. Then my third boy was born into my dear OB friend's hands on Halloween night. He screamed and screamed and screamed until he latched and nursed sulkily. I felt nothing but joy. 

And now, with a Lego-loving, fishing, dinosaur-obsessing, toad-hunting clan of three, I find myself content. I help my oldest build Hogwarts out of his beloved bricks. I go fishing with them, even if I just stand there and yell not to get the fish too close to me. I try to parse the various dinosaurs and other extinct animals they adore, and my boys are patient in their explaining. When we found a toad the other day, I laughed, and I even held it when pressed, which tickled the kids to no end.

Other than a few gendered activities, they're just ... kids. We make butterflies out of clothespins and puppets out of toilet paper rolls. We craft beads from clay and string them on necklaces. They helped me make Christmas wreaths, because they got to use the hot glue gun. They also believe that glitter makes all art projects better, and they love Hamilton.

As I get older, I might miss the heart-to-heart girl talks. I might miss the very things I once dreaded: the first period discussion, the when-to-shave-your-legs lecture. I know some women feel that they can be a powerful role model for a girl, but I never felt that calling. In fact, I was actually grateful to bow out of it.

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A daughter might be super close to me. But I don't need that. I have three sons who are deeply close to me. They come to me with their problems. The 7-year-old still sits in my lap. They wrap themselves around me and say, "I love you, Mama," unbidden and unasked. They worm their way under my arm while I type. There will be hard conversations -- conversations I am not yet prepared for, conversations about pornography and sex and dating. But when the time comes, I will be ready for them. They do not carry the gut-terror of my own adolescent fears.

I don't feel the lack of traditional girl toys or girl clothes. In fact, I am happy to be the girliest person in the room. Me and our pet female boxer, we've got it going on. She has a pink collar. I have a pink tutu. I don't have a daughter to buy one for, and it was the only part of daughterhood I ever longed for, and so: I have my own. I adore it.

We are surrounded, at last count, by an ant farm, two tiny tanks of different spider species, a toad, a worm, and a corn snake. They don't scare me. They're wonderful, part of the wonder of life with boy children. I am happy with them.

I am happy with us.

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