On Having A Girl

Isabel turns two next week. Can you believe it? I can’t. A little girl, right here in our midst. It’s very different from having a baby girl. I’m stumped for words; funny but it’s true.

I know I’ve written about having a daughter a lot, but thoughts still swirl and the mystery remains and there are a few things, now that enough time has passed, that I want to share with you. Things I didn’t want to say right off the bat and maybe I’ve already said them so bear with me if I have.

When Isabel was born I was obviously overcome. (I am searching for the awesome picture of the moment I saw it was a girl. Haven’t found it yet… UPDATE: Thank you Colleen!)

Obviously. Ugly cries ensued and my sister got it on film. I’m glad she ignored me when I said to her during transition, “don’t take any more pictures.” I actually hissed it more than stated it and Jojo was like “sounds good okay smile for the camera.” She knew I’d regret not having a picture and I’m so glad she just kept right on. Sisters are awesome that way.

So a few days after Isabel was born, I was in the doctor’s office for her three-day check up and I admitted something to my doctor, he who has a slew of his own boys (followed by a girl).

“I feel like I’ve betrayed my readers.”

The minute I said this, I felt silly. But it was true. I was head-over-heels in love with my girl, but also feeling a strange mix of guilt and confusion. For so long, I had identified myself as that “Mom of Boys,” the one who embraced wholeheartedly the lack of daughter in her life, who had made peace with the fact that God did not send her a daughter and that was okay.

It was okay — I was actually terribly happy with all these boys. I loved my persona as Queen of Testosterhome. I loved everything about having five boys (well, you know, most everything).

And then along came a girl and I was overcome. But also out-of-sorts, just a bit, because just like that, my old self was gone.

It’s true we can say that of any new baby. When baby no. three comes along, there goes the old you, the one with two kids. Same for moving from three kids to four.

But when you add that new gender to the mix, it’s a big deal. And it took some getting used to.

It was also interesting because for a long time, I worried that there was a crucial flaw within me that made God wary of sending me a daughter. I sometimes, deep down, wondered if He knew I didn’t have what it would take to raise a girl right. What was the inner-brokeness that made me unfit to have a daughter? Was it fixable? Even if I never had a girl, could God fix whatever this was about me.

And then Isabel came along and I realized there was nothing wrong in that regard. But I didn’t realize that because I had a girl — I realized that nothing about me had changed (and also, everything about me had changed) and that I hope other women with just sons aren’t out there struggling with those same feelings of inadequacy. I hope those mom’s of boys understand it’s really luck of the draw. Yes God is in charge and he has a plan, but also free will and genetics and you know human reproductive details, etc. That it isn’t some deep spiritual issue that must be fixed in order to be worthy.

Those are my thoughts for today. A tad random and now I have to leave and go get the dog from getting some surgery. As Paul explained to the boys, “he’s getting the gusto taken out of him.” The boys pleaded and begged that we not go into further details on that.


  1. It’s taken me an entire year to get over the fact that I’m probably only going to be the mom of boys. I’m mostly embracing it now. But it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one that has wondered if God refused to send me a daughter because I’d stink at raising one. In my low times, I feel like it’s some sin or brokenness in me that got me all boys. Thanks for admitting you have thought the same thing before. It makes me feel less like a freak. =)

  2. Well, this post certainly spoke to me! I have four boys and I am totally awesome with it (although I feel like I constantly have to prove that to people). In fact, I do admit, it makes me so sad when I hear people wishing for one gender or the other, especially when they are pregnant and that baby is already who he or she is supposed to be. How often people would ask if I was ‘hoping for a girl’ when I was pregnant the last time! It drove me crazy and was hurtful, ESPECIALLY when they asked it in front of my boys! In fact, I wrote a whole post on it 🙂 The reason why it hits home is because I grew up in a family of six girls and one boy. People CONSTANTLY bemoaned that fact and felt sorry for my dad and brother and said some very cruel things. That does such a number on a little girl’s psyche feeling like she must’ve disappointed people simply by being born the ‘wrong’ gender. I hope and pray that my boys never feel that way, even though people still make comments.

    That all said, I totally get how crazy weird it must’ve been to have a girl because I’m pretty sure I would react the same way! I’ve identified myself as the ‘mom of boys’ and it would be such an adjustment to think otherwise! In a way, I’m sort of relieved that God’s (so far) given us all boys. While I don’t see having a daughter as something God is denying me, I do think it would be a lot more on my shoulders thinking that this little girl is going to be much more likely to emulate me and want to be like me. Since boys tend to look up to daddy much more (at least from my experience), I feel like I get off a little bit easier 🙂 But, yeah, having a girl would definitely be a different world and self-identity for me!

  3. I am a mom of 4 boys and i am pregnant with (what the ultrasound tells us) is a daughter. I am struggling with my identity too! i’m a mom of boys!! what am i going to do with a girl? we are thrilled, and the boys are excited….but a part of me is going to miss having “just” boys. i love my boys. we have so much fun. it is a rough and tumble life, but i rather enjoy it. I hope this girl can hold her own…i hope i know how to parent her…i’m sure things will feel “right” once she gets here…like she’s always been a part of our family, but right now i’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it. thanks for this post!

  4. Christine says:

    I have 5 boys and 2 girls (children #3 and 4), and I still consider myself a “mom of boys”. I figure there is something about me that makes me suited to raising all these mostly male small people… my girls DO hold their own in our house. I think it helps a bit that they are close-in-age siblings. It does all work out in the end… 🙂

  5. Rachel i soo love this post ..I am a mom of 3 beautiful healthy boys ..after I had my first 2 boys ..I got pregnant ,,it was a girl ..I carried this pregnancy for 5 months ..then the baby died in utero …I so struggled with this ..I got pregnant again and it was a perfect little boy ..i honestly feel that the sex soo does not matter ..it is the health of the baby that is by far more important ..after I experienced that loss I soo Just wanted to hold a healthy baby ..and to this day am blessed that I have my 3rd boy ..he is perfect in every way ..the boys will bring me the girls ..I always say you get what you get ..giving birth to a healthy boy or girl ..is what truly matters …You have a beautiful family ..I loove the pic of you and sweet Isabel ..

  6. As the mother of 3 boys, and then a girl, I so relate to this post. So well said!

  7. We have four boys, and last year welcomed our daughter. We had five prior miscarriages, four of which we knew were girls. I was feeling very unworthy…

    When we got pregnant with our daughter, I knew I didn’t want a girl. I didn’t want to leave the all boy club. I even got upset with my husband when he tweeted that he was finally having a girl. I felt he betrayed our boys. But he explained that he wasn’t going to feel guilty about wanting a girl. It took some time, but he was right. I know he would have been fine with a boy, but he so wanted a daughter. And now that she is here, I constantly say that God knew. He knew exactly what our family needed.

  8. I have seven boys and two girls, and I still think of myself as the “mother of boys.” I don’t think this will ever change.

  9. This really speaks to me, too! I am a mom of 6 girls, and I am perfectly comfortable (and happy) with this as my identity. I recently confided to my sil and mil that I sometimes wonder if I am just not built to be a good mom to boys, and I could tell that they were both horrified. I really regretted saying it…But! I’ve spent the last 12 years as a mother to only girls, it’s hard to keep from thinking that God is telling me something. (I know He doesn’t work that way, still it’s hard not to *feel* like He does at times.)

    I’m encouraged (and less afraid!) by this post. I sometimes struggle with feeling inadequate in just the way you described. And yet, I sometimes struggle with feeling so comfortable and at peace with where we are as a family – because I *should* want a boy, because I maybe *shouldn’t* be at peace with all girls…These things are hard to express. Anyway, thank you for this post, for your honesty! This is what I love best about Catholic blogs, these little niche posts that can just really hit me so strongly, as though God put it into the writer’s head just for me. 🙂

  10. I have read your blog for a few years now, and also have five boys! I always knew I would be the mom of boys, and love it.

    But like you, occasionally, from time to time, I let the thought linger: does God know some hubris about me that prevents us from having girls? And then I let it flit away. This has been the best – and hardest because I ‘meet’ myself daily – chapter in my life. I am so proud of them, love everything (well almost everything!) about rearing young gents. Thanks for your transparency – it was like reading part of my life.

  11. Though I don’t have a slew of girls followed by a boy, I still felt similarly when my #3 was a boy, and I knew it was coming. The reality of that different gender is an ongoing mystery being unveiled. And an adventure all its own! 🙂

  12. Philothea says:

    Just read this post and comments. Isn’t it funny the ways Satan comes up with to tempt us? My mother in law always prays that her children be “happy, healthy and holy.”. In low moments of temptation, ask yourself if your children meet this standard. If they do, stop worrying what kind of mom you’re cut out to be–you’re doing great!

  13. I just came across this post and I wanted to thank you for your honesty. I am (finally) pregnant with no.1 and we found out a few weeks ago that we are having a boy. We were surprised and maybe a little disappointed because we had hoped and longed for a daughter. I know that we should be happy with either a boy or girl and focus more on the baby’s health, etc, but the gender makes so much difference in how we parent and it brings up all of those issues we have as children with our parents, etc. I selfishly long for a daughter because I fear that my husband will get a relationship with our son that i will never have and I struggle more with this because I do plan to stay at home. My fear is that I will only be a mom of boys and miss out on that mother/daughter relationship. I am the youngest of 3 daughters while my husband has 4 brothers. I wonder if I will be a good mom to a boy as if motherhood depends on gender! I am already 35 so a big family is not possible for us. Your post made my guilt more bearable and hopeful that it is “chance” and we are not “unworthy”. thanks for being so vulnerable!