I really wanted a daughter. Her name was Emma, and her nursery was to be the loveliest shades of pale pink and spring green. She would like art and enjoy mani/pedi dates with me, but also be spunky, tough and very much her own girl. Later, she would have a sister, and they'd be thick as thieves.
My vision of motherhood was based on my tightly-knit nuclear family of sister, mother and lone father, which is to say I looked ahead to mostly girls all the time.
When Jack was 11-weeks in utero, he flashed his nascent manhood at us via ultrasound, and Emma faded to Jack, William, or Max. Bright blue and red airplanes assertively took the place of delicate pink and greens, and my visions of smocked dresses and embroidered bloomers gave way to those of rompers and overalls, once I could find cute boy clothes that is.
Armed with zero knowledge of boys, an eight-months-pregnant discovery of Janie and Jack’s adorable wardrobe options, and assurances that my son would call me once he grew up and out, I welcomed my beautiful Jack early one morning and was instantly smitten. That little girl would probably come next time around. And as I used to ask for an older brother for Christmas, I realized the perfect hand fate had dealt me when gifting me with my wonderful son.
Two years later, Oliver remained coy during his first few ultrasounds, and my resurrected hope of Emma’s pending arrival burned bright. At four months, however, the great white whale showed himself, and Emma was gone. I cried for 24 hours, mourning the loss of that old, powerful dream. I cried for the mother-child relationships I now knew I’d never have. I grieved for the door shutting and locking on dresses that twirled, lengthy phone calls from college when she needed advice, and even being her mother-of-the-bride.
As I sorted Jack’s old clothes over the next months, readied another not-pink nursery, considered Oliver versus William and worried that whatever his name, it was now possible that TWO children would grow up and never call me again (girls always call). I thanked ultrasound technology repeatedly for enabling me to have time before my boy came to make peace with my lack of daughters.
Peace I surely found, and if it’s possible (although I don’t think it is), I fell in love with Oliver even more quickly than I did Jack. He was born, cleaned and swaddled, and then he snuggled up on my chest like he’d always been there.
I’m a happy mom of sons, and though I don’t really believe in any sort of guiding hand, I nonetheless feel that I got exactly what I needed and that Jack and Oliver did too. A trio could not be more closely connected. I know each of them better than they know themselves. They derive strength and confidence from my all-encompassing love, and I from theirs.
Early on, I decided that if boys were my path in parenthood, I’d raise good ones. Mine would be the sort of boys with whom anyone would want their child to be friends, teammates, study group partners or spouses. The kinds who speak easily to adults, know how to comport themselves in various social settings and are in touch with their emotional selves. Mannered humans who walk with confidence, eschew the win-lose binary and take care of others.
Although they can be absolutely disgusting, and I suspect Jack will never be an overly clean person, I think we’re on the right path so far. I also think they really might call me when they’re adults.
I asked them not to wake me too early this past Valentine's Day, and that morning, despite my ear plugs (pink), I heard my husband plead with them to respect that wish. But they wanted so badly to say “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom,” and perhaps earlier than I’d have liked, the three of us ended up snuggled in bed. I can never get over their warm little bodies, cozy and humming as if their insides are actually heaters. I never tire of kissing their smooth cheeks and feeling their tiny hands in mine. I couldn't imagine sweeter Valentines.
Our house is full of creativity, drama, costume changes and even some pink that’s not just mine. All that in the presence of just one double-X chromosomal pair, and it’s quite enough for me. I haven’t missed Emma once.