Then I ran into this post, It’s a Girl, by Michael Stokes Paulsen. I read it and shook with fury. Selectively destroying girls from the landscape of humanity is not merely morally corrupt, it’s some of the darkest, soul destroying acts I can think of.
I am a Chinese girl, born in the US. My maternal grandparents immigrated to the US from Taiwan, after they’d escaped China during the communist revolution. We didn’t feel any of the strains of China that they lived under. However, as a young child I knew that being a girl was inferior.
It wasn’t that they purposefully went out of their way about it. You would think that being the oldest grandchild would somehow elevate my standing in their eyes. However, it was the simple fact that I was a girl, and not only was I a girl, I was a daughter of their daughter. My mom wasn’t even worthy to carry on the family name. By virtue of her inability to carry on the name, my brothers were also included in the unimportant circle.
I grew up knowing where we stood. We were essentially outsiders, occasionally let in, for the sake of blood relations. Once one of my mother’s brothers started having sons, it was hallelujah, holy Dalai Lama time. These sons who could carry on their names were the saviors, and no expense, no amount of coddling was enough for them, they were miracles.
It’s not their fault. It’s the attitude of the culture my grandparents were raised in. Could they change that attitude? Sure. If they wanted to. If they had the drive to. This used to bother me as a kid. Now that I’m older I realize, hey, that’s their life, their choices, all I can do is work on my life. So I chose to learn. I discovered that I could pick and choose the cultural aspects I wanted to keep, and discard those that I didn’t agree with.
Fast forward to 2004. It was my second pregnancy. My first was a miscarriage. In my second pregnancy I kept having beautiful dreams of a girl dancing in a pink tutu, despite the fact that my doctor was 80% sure it was a boy. For my husband, who is a hockey, baseball, football, and any other sport you can think of fan, he was on the tips of his manly toes in anticipation.
When we had the official ultrasound the technician told us our baby was a girl. I was thrilled. Hubby didn’t speak until after the SJ Sharks won their game that night. It may be the only time I’ve rooted so hard for a team. Needless to say, he fell head over heels for our girls. We currently have two daughters. We contemplate having a third. My husband has said repeatedly that if we do have a third, he wants a girl. That puts me over the moon with joy. Our daughters are sweet, dramatic, sassy, creative, thoughtful, and ridiculously funny. I feel so grateful to be their mother.
It always frustrates me when I hear of people who, while they may love their daughters, are disappointed that the didn’t get that vaunted boy child. I’ve discovered that this attitude isn’t relegated to Asian cultures, there’s a pretty broad spectrum of people who have this innate desire. I have people tell me that I should try all sorts of methods to get myself the sperm that swims fast, but lacks stamina. They tell me there are positions, and things to ingest that will increase the odds of hitting that jackpot of boy. They may be well intentioned, but are completely off the mark. They are absolutely clueless in understanding how unimportant gender selection is to me.
If, and when I do have a third child, of course I want that baby to be chubby and healthy. Whether it’s a girl or boy, I enjoy leaving that all up to chance. If it’s a girl, I’ll be tickled pink, and be a pro. I’ve got the girl thing down. If it’s a boy I’ll likely begin in novice panic mode, but will fall in love with him, not because of his gender, but because he’s my baby.
Kids are brilliant. They know when they are loved just as they are, or if they’re loved for what they are.
If we get one thing right as parents, please, let it be that we love them unconditionally, without strings attached. Just as we want to be loved and accepted as we are, our kids look to us to provide that simple, yet profoundly pure love.