A couple of days ago, I was waiting for my two youngest boys outside a bagel store while they were getting some food. A woman was talking to her two young daughters in front of another store after they had just gotten some smoothies and an older woman walked by.
The older woman said to the younger mother, "Your daughters are so cute."
"Thank you, that is so sweet", said the younger mother.
"I have three boys. Boys are not as cute," said the older mother.
I look up. You've got my attention now.
Younger mother gasps slightly, taken aback, and she says, "Yes, but having a boy would be nice too."
"Yes, yes," older mother says, like 'yeah, right' and keeps walking.
Younger mother is speechless, and so am I.
Ever since I became the mother of three boys I have listened to this ongoing debate about boys vs. girls, who is easier, who is more difficult and the pros and cons of having either sex. Sometimes I am amused. Other times, annoyed and still others, like when I heard this random exchange between the two mothers, sad for that older woman who didn't know how lucky she was.
I've listened patiently, as mothers of girls tell me how easy boys are and when I try to object, they correct me. Or to younger women ask me if I'm sad I never had a girl as if I didn't get the pony I was promised. I've had strangers tell me I'm lucky because my boys will take care of me when I'm older, and others tell me straight faced how the bond between a mother and a daughter is just stronger than a boy. 'It's just not the same,' they tell me. Thanks, I'm glad you gave me the heads up.
Really? Are we that simple? Do you know me? Do you know my boys?
Here's a revelation. Boys, girls...both human beings. Boys, girls, each unique human beings. Some complex, some easygoing, some athletic, some artistic, some loving, some selfish.
There is no doubt I would have had a completely different experience with a girl in my life. There is no doubt I would be getting my nails done with her, shopping and watching reality tv. Or would I? I will never know because no two girls are alike. There is absolutely no guarantee that my daughter would have enjoyed the things I enjoy. None. Zero. Niente.
I have three boys, three incredibly different complex human beings. My relationship with each one of them is totally different. Each one has their own personality. My husband's relationship is different with them than mine but not necessarily closer because he is a man and they are his sons. Yes, he plays golf with some of them, camps with another, has taught our older son how to shave, activities I don't do but that doesn't make either of our relationships to them more or less rich. It just makes it, different.
Here's what I know does matter when it comes to kids -- healthy, not healthy. Yeah, that's critical. Nurtured, not nurtured. Tres importante. Recognizing their uniqueness and trying to parent them accordingly, not easy but essential. When will we as a culture stop competing against each other to have the best, most, and focus more on the amazing gifts we have.
Imagine the above scenerio if I had walked by the mother of the girls and said,
"Your girls are so cute."
Thank you, she says.
"Healthy kids are so much cuter than disabled ones are."
Think about it.