(originally written the day of finding out. Now I feel much different. More on that soon.)
My first reaction to hearing that we were having a little girl was complete shock, excitement…and then fear. I know. FEAR. Irrational and undiluted terror. I know that fear is not the normal reaction. Maybe it is. Maybe not. Either way, I feel it. It’s my reality. And I thought that I should try to explain my brain….not because I have to for anyone else…I do need to get it out. Just for myself. And maybe one day my future daughter will read this and realize how human her mother really is. She might not even care. Who knows?
Don’t get me wrong….I’m excited. I’m honored. I’m in no doubt fully and 100% in love. But I’m also feeling a whole bunch of the weird feelings. It’s insecurities. It’s a test of my identity. It’s a whole new world of parenting. And yes, I know that parenting ANY child is all of those things. I know that parenting requires different things because ALL children are different. All children need warmth and authority and guidance and forgiveness and security and patience and love. And I hope I can be all those things to my children. So if you are someone that wants to explain to me all about how girls are the same as boys…respectfully I know those things. Please…kindly don’t. I’m not in a place to feel chastised about how I explain my feelings or explained to about parenting or ‘mommed’….I am just journaling right now.
So let’s talk expectations. Expectations are an emotional gamblers high. Most times they aren’t met. And having expectations….AND OH DID I HAVE EXPECTATIONS….like I did about this baby…it wipes all those expectations away and it leaves you feeling…well, in a spot that is washed into a blank canvas. For heavens sakes…I already had a boys name picked out and the boys clothing pulled out. I already knew the kind of newborn photo shoot I wanted to do. I already thought about the little boys themes for the birthday parties and the gifts that I could get for christmas. We had already planned for bunk beds and putting three little boys in one room. It’s like that is all wiped away. That’s the feeling. Something that was there is now gone. And there isn’t a whole lot to fill the void except the unknown. And the accessories….because I don’t want to undermine the amazing accessories. And that does help.
And then there is identity. I’m a boy mom. I am. I am 110% all bout them boys. My identity has been in being a boy mom because that is the hand I have been dealt. That’s what I’ve evolved into. I thought I would have both by now. I always wanted lots of kids. Four to six…that’s what we always planned for. We didn’t plan for four boys in a row. We surely didn’t plan for them to be so close together. But since that’s what we got…that’s what I identify as. I used to stock pile girls clothing….but now I don’t shop for me…I shop with other moms in mind. I gave up on that idea of girl stuff in my life when I gave my sister the four boxes of girls clothing that I knew would never be used in the Bower house. And the thing is – I was ok with that. I like having the attention of FOUR BOYS. People think that is special…and it is! People stop me in the store and comment about the boys. I had a man tell me this past week that I was going to heaven because I was raising all these little boys. I can spot a cute preppy boys sweater on the Goodwill rack from 200 yards away. I can talk sports and monster trucks and dirty little jeans with grass stains. I can make helicopter noises and race car noises and I know all the train songs. I feel comfortable there. In the boy-mom zone. I feel safe and warm and cozy surrounded by dinosaurs and matchbox cars and farting jokes and talking about aiming into the bushes. And that so far hasn’t changed with any of my kids….and it has a huge potential of changing this time around. That feels a little…scary? odd? unknown?
And then there is all the irrational stuff….Will I be able to change a girl diaper without giving her an infection? Will I be able to be able to not put my own feminine emotional crap on her? Will I be able to deal with the moods and the hormones and the sensitivities? Will I be able to not forcefully push her to be a better girl than me….like forcing her to deal with my insecurities? Will I be able to teach her that beauty isn’t in her face but in her heart? Will I be good enough? Will I be enough of a mom? Will I be able to teach her the importance of grace, intelligence, practicality and hard work in a world that values women for physical appearance? Will I be able to protect her? Not just from sketchy or abusive men and danger and aggression and insecurities but from people…from fellow females or a culture who are just plain mean? Will I be able to teach her that her value isn’t in what people think of her….but that it comes from another source even when I struggle with that myself?
All of these things are like lightening bolts to my heart…striking fear in me…bringing out insecurities. And I gotta tell you….there was a time not long ago that I thought….maybe God doesn’t want me to have a girl because I am not good enough. I am not ready. I am not sensitive enough. Heck maybe I’m not even a good girlfriend to my own girlfriends. How can I be a good girl mom? And here is where things get brutally honest…maybe too honest. Maybe I’ll regret sharing this…but here goes.
I struggled my entire life with finding girls to be friends with. Not just in a oh-we-lost-touch sort of way. I’ve been flat out to my face loudly rejected by girls, women, friends, over….and over…and over. It’s staggering how many times it’s happened. In middle school, my best friend told me that she had to be someone else’s best friend because I wasn’t friends with enough people. I wasn’t popular enough. In high school, I was homeschooled and literally…all the girls were my sister’s friend…not mine. The girls that weren’t friends with my sister…well, all of them wanted to date my older brother and that’s all they talked about or they just chose to never get close to me. In college, I finally made some best friends, only to be told later that one of them thought I was hitting on her boyfriend…and I literally never even spoke a single word to that guy. And the other friends in our group followed her lead….rejecting me for a friendship with her. Even in recent years, I have been rejected by friends and they completely stopped talking to me in an abrupt and confusing way. And to be perfectly honest…it’s devastating. It’s heartbreaking and humiliating and raw and depressing.
I have lost so many friends….through time and through factors that I couldn’t control. I’ve apologized for things that were unintentional and even flat out untrue. And I don’t want to sound like I’m flawless…because I’m not. I’m 100% sure I made HUGE mistakes…but not being forgiven…not receiving reciprocal grace…it cuts. Rejection still hurts. It burns so slowly and I know that has shaped my vision for what girls are like. What female-to-female relationships are like. And I always thought…maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m weird. I know I am different…kinda like seeing both sides of the coin at once. I just thought I wasn’t good at being a girl…so maybe that is why I thought it was perfect for me to be surrounded by boys. I am analytical but also creative, outgoing but also a pocket introvert, a person that chooses habit just as much as I choose spontaneity. I did personality tests in college with my girls soccer team and every single time I would be in a category all by myself. It was a very concrete display of something I already knew in my heart….I am not the typical girl human. Not to say that I’m special…I’m fairly generic…but I fall in the middle of so many different personality types….I can identify with so many “girl” things…but very rarely do I fully embody any of them. It’s weird. I know. So for a long time…I thought it was me.
I would make friends but hold them at arms length. I literally lost faith in having close girlfriends for any extended period of time until Sherry came into my life. I can’t tell you how much I love that girl. And yes…things change. Yes, I have lots of other close girls that have helped heal those wounds of past relationships. There are truly some wonderful females that would bend over backwards for me and my family and I can’t express the love I have in my heart for them. But it doesn’t take away that insecurity. Those moments of rejection. Those don’t get wiped away. Will I be able to raise a woman who will lift up those around her? Will she grow to be the rejector or the rejectee? Will I be able to be a good example of what a strong female should be when really deep down I don’t feel strong at all? What if she doesn’t love me? What if…at the end of this, I am ultimately rejected by the only female that really matters? It could break me in half. Literally.
This insecurity is stirred up…and violently shaken and yes…its confusing and weird that it’s even PART of this discussion…but it is. And then go ahead with my family relationships. YES…I am obsessed with my sister and my mom….I love them to a point that nobody can even question it. They are literally my best of best friends in this world. But there have been times in the past when things weren’t so peachy. There were times when I was so angry and so hurt and so selfish and so jealous and so emotional and so STUPID that I pushed those relationships away. I fought. I screamed. I emotionally cat-clawed. There were moments when I was a terrible sister and a terrible daughter. It wasn’t pretty. And I know that only by the grace of God did we make through it. So that scares me. What if that happens with my daughter? What if we don’t make it out to the other side? What if I just SUCK at being a girl mom?
And then there comes parenting and all the weird irrational fears that I have. What if she really likes the girly things and I am not good at them? What if she wants a perm and it makes her hair fall out and it’s all my fault? What if she wants to wear the mini skirts because all her friends wear them? What if she hates sports and attending all her brothers activities? What if she is so pretty and nice and smart that all the boys chase her? What if she feels lonely in a house full of boys? What if I treat her too much ‘the same’? What if I treat her too much ‘different’? What if? What if? What if?
It fills my head and it scares the living crap out of me. I know and trust and BELIEVE WITH MY WHOLE HEART that God gives you the absolute best for your family. I don’t question whether this little one is good for us. I know for a fact already that I am gonna get the best little girl on the planet! It’s really a matter of whether I am good enough for her. And I know my identity should be in God. It is. For the most part it is. But I would be lying to say I don’t struggle. I am still human. I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made. But I wonder if my choices would disqualify me from being a good girl mom. Hurt people hurt people. I believe that. And we are all hurt. And I know it’s my job to protect and teach my children. I just want to make sure I protect my children from me. I don’t want to be emotionally insensitive. Or void of wisdom. Or emotionally overly sensitive. Being in the middle of all these personality types makes me think anything is possible.
So yeah…that’s where I’m at. I am excited. I’m in love. I am nervous. I am dealing with a lot of Katie right now. Things I thought weren’t an issue. Things I thought I had handed over to God. Remnants of those things are being brought up and I get to lay them down again. It’s very humbling. But that’s the human process right? That’s the process we all go through for maturity…for truth…for stability. And I hope that it means I am healing. Because truly…I want to be the best mom I can possibly be…to boys and a girl. I don’t want to leave perfect footprints….I want to leave the kind of evidence that my children never question if I struggled in the path before them so that I had to depend on God and on others. I want them to know that I was imperfect but lead by a perfect God with a perfect love. And that He can do that for them too. That we don’t care how short their hair is or what they like as a hobby or what color they want the walls of their room or what toys they want for Christmas….that we only care about doing our best to show them the greatest love in the whole world. Honestly…I can’t wait for her to get her because then I can just cuddle my sweet new baby and forget about me for a minute. And maybe I can fill the time with girl accessories…because that is one thing that doesn’t scare me. That is one thing that I did dream about for a long long time.