True Confessions From the Heart

*deep breath*

*deep breath*

It is going to be okay, I can do this......

*deep breath*

So, here goes nothin'.....

Starman is quite possibly the best thing that has ever happened to me as a human being. You might find this statement offensive because I do have two other, perfectly lovely, children. But, these children did not fundamentally change my entire world paradigm thus making me a much better person. So, unfortunately they do not get to be included in the above statement.

Let me explain. I have spent most of my life HATING men. I spent a good deal of college writing short stories on the total uselessness of the sex in general and describing, in detail, all the science-fiction-y ways that we were going to render males useless, even in their most basic role of conception and parenthood. I even applauded those few science fiction shows that featured some form of Matriarchy and, as I am sure is not a surprise, my favorite superhero was Wonder Woman. After all how could I not love a superhero who came from an entire island of Amazon warrior women. It was not just unease, it was genuine bafflement of what the male "species" could possibly offer to us, when the female "species" was so very clearly superior.

Some of you reading this might be tempted to sit back, nod your head and think that this is clearly because I have some sort of Daddy-issues, but let me assure you this is the farthest thing from the truth. My Dad is every bit the quiet, English professor intellectual. He is smart, and funny, and extremely well-read. He is just "macho" enough to like cars and movies that have lots of gore and aliens in them, but shy enough to make him largely nonthreatening. Unless you are his daughter or his wife, in which case you are very well aware that a powder keg lurks at the end of his ridiculously long fuse and that in no way do you ever want to reach the end of it. I love my Dad and even in the throes of my male-hatred, he was always considered exempt because he was absolutely wonderful.

In fact, I love my Dad so much, that I very stereotypically went out and married a man very much like him. Neither one are fans of people as a general rule, they both have an intimidating intellect that make me feel stupid in comparison sometimes and they both harbor a deep love of movies involving aliens ripping people to shreds, or serial killers stalking people through space. All in all, they remained the two exceptions to my all-men-suck mentality. The fact that they are friends is an added bonus for me, and all the male companionship I required. (I should mention that my husband is so amazing that he married me KNOWING my viewpoints on men, and loved me because, or in spite of them...either way... That is how awesome he is!)

Now, I will tell you that I had a few dating experiences that traumatized me fairly effectively in this department. This is not something I will discuss here, or possibly ever, but it did nothing to dissuade me in my sexism and if anything just solidified my belief in the position. My husband was definitely a HUGE exception to the rule and in fact, after we became friends, he spent 6 very determined months attempting to persuade me to date him. My argument, which was iron-clad as far as I was concerned, was that we got along WAY too well and that if we went out on even one date, that it would clearly end in us getting married and having children. This was undesirable because it would spoil my plans to become a world-famous, globe-trotting anthropologist...and besides, I hated men! He eventually convinced me that one date did not make a marriage proposal and I was being utterly ridiculous... but the joke is on him because we know who turned out to be right after all.

But, back to the hating men thing. Flash forward to my first pregnancy. I was sure I was having a boy and on the way to the ultra-sound I was convinced that the tech was going to tell me that's exactly what the baby was, a boy. I naturally voiced these ideas to The Husband, which in hindsight turned out to be a mistake because he mistakenly thought that I was privy to some ancient women's prognostication and was very surprised, and disappointed (though he nobly attempted to cover it well) when the tech excitedly announced, "It's a girl!"

I can not even tell you how relieved I was. I absolutely did not want a boy. Of course I said what any polite NORMAL person would say, "I don't really care what gender it is, as long as it's healthy," but that was a BIG. FAT. LIE! I was terrified that I would have to raise one of those males and had no idea what on earth I would do with one. It was a huge thrill that my first child was a girl, so that I could learn how to parent first before tackling my own prejudices. That way if the next one was a boy, I could focus on other things, like what I was going to call his penis (a penis, BTW) and how to talk to him about why it insisted on changing sizes periodically without warning and how to treat women when he was born a scumbag. Starting with a girl sounded much less threatening than doing that AND figuring out how to keep a baby alive.

This was a comfort to me when we got pregnant with #2 and we decided not to find out what the sex was. My pregnancy was vastly different, (read: WAY, WAY, WAY sicker) so, OF COURSE it HAD to be a boy, because only men will torture you like that. Everything... every heartbeat check, the way I was carrying, the wedding ring on the end of a all pointed to boy. But that was ok. I just assumed I already had MY child and this next one could be The Husband's. In fact, I was so sure that I was going to have a boy that I thought I might as well start looking for full-time work because I am not going to want to stay home with a boy all day. (yes, as suggested in my previous post, this is that aforementioned part where you may start to find me largely unlikable. Please bear with me, I do get better).

Even checking in to Labor and Delivery the nurse listened to the heartbeat and said, "Boy?" and my husband assured her we didn't know because it was a surprise. Her response was, "well, I have never heard a heartbeat sound like that and had it NOT be a boy, so I look forward to meeting him." In fact, on the way over in the car I had commented to The Husband that the only way this baby was going to be a surprise at this point was if she popped out a girl.


No one, not even the doctor, could believe it. But, sure enough, #2 was a bouncing baby girl. And as an only child who secretly spent her entire childhood fantasizing about a long lost twin sister....or any sister at all, I was beyond thrilled. Even The Husband was thrilled because, "Hey! I already know how to take care of one of those." And we all went home happy.

Now during all of this child conceiving and rearing my other friends were doing much the same thing. And here is where I admit to being a very terrible person. When a friend would come to me and tell me they just found out their first child was a boy....I would actually feel sorry for them. I would feel a little smugly sad that they would never know the awesome awesomeness of having girls, because....let's face it....they are WAY better than boys. And for families (and I can think of 3 off the top of my head that I sort of dread the idea that they might be reading this) who had 3,4 and even FIVE boys *shudder* I felt a deep profound sadness for them that their lives were so empty with nothing but boys to love them. I would say to The Husband, "it is so, so sad that their children will grow up to leave them. You know how the saying goes; A daughter is a daughter for all of her life, A son's just a son until he takes a wife." I would also mention the comment the director at my Grandmother's assisted living home made to my Mom one day about how you can always tell which residents have daughters and which ones have sons. The one's who have daughters had decorated entrances and always had company for holidays, while the one's with son's just get a check every month, lived with empty doors and hardly had any visitors.

I even felt jealous of the 90+ year old woman my grandmother played bingo with because she had SEVEN daughters and I thought that must have been magical. I thought this right up until she mentioned one day at bingo that she had been spending nights with a gentleman downstairs and that she really hoped she wasn't pregnant again. That was when I thought maybe having seven girls wasn't so magical. Maybe having seven girls left you just shy of sanity. But at least her door had decorations and that was what was clearly important.

So, while I was feeling smugly satisfied with my own house which dripped in pink, ponies and princesses and looked down on households that had to endure superheroes and Nerf guns, I got pregnant with #3. Again I was HORRIBLY sick, but at this point I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God would not make me suffer with having to raise a boy at this point. After all I was so very excellent at raising girls. In fact, I was just as shocked as my soon to be middle child was when it was declared that we were having a boy and I silently echoed her cries of "NOOOOOOOO I HATE BOYS! I DON'T WANT A BROTHER, I WANT A SISTER!!!" Even The Husband was unsettled at this point because as he put it, "Hey, I've got this girl thing down now. I don't know how I feel about starting over with a boy."

Everything changed with he arrived. Even in the hospital I began to notice differences between him and his sisters. For one, they never seemed to need to burp, ever. So, I felt a little dumb holding a screaming third baby as the nurse gently suggests, "Have you tried burping him yet?" Sure enough it worked like a charm and that was when I realized. Boys were different. They were gassier than girls, and it clearly wasn't their fault because they just came that way. There was no way around it. They were genetically and fundamentally different. Now, notice I said different. Not worse. Not better. Different. And thus began God's gift to my education. I fell in love with boys. I fell in love with the ripped jeans and the rough and tumble. I fell in love with the way he would lay his hand on the side of my face telling me how much he loved me, made all the more sweeter by knowing I would not always be the main woman in his life. I began to see how lucky my friends with all-boy households really were. They were free of the drama and the emotional turmoil. Their sibling fights might present themselves as more aggressive and sudden, but they blew over just as quickly. There wasn't the days long glaring and dagger-like, passive-aggressive anger that made me long for a knock-down-drag-out fight that was over as soon as it began.

As I started to see how unfairly I had treated the men I encountered, I also started to notice how unfair we are to the males in our lives as a culture. I have almost become a men-anist (like feminist, only for men). I have noticed the stupid male roles we give them on t.v. like the bumbling Ray Romano, or the players like Barney Stinson. It bothers me when we roll-our eyes at every dead-beat-dad story and act like we aren't that surprised. I notice all the things we tell young boys about "being a man" and "stop acting like a girl" and it bothers me. It used to bother me just from a girl's perspective, but I am different now. Now it bothers me that we won't allow them to be vulnerable, emotional, caring.

I look at his little sleeping form and I see the man I hope he will become; respectful, kind, honest, responsible, his Dad and his Grandpa. I see his face in all the men around me now and I realize how unfairly I have judged them. I have not done men justice, and I see that our society has not done men justice. I rejoice when a friend tells me her first will be a boy, because "you know boys and their mothers" is not just an expression, it's a real thing. I know that now. I quietly feel bad for all the uncharitable thoughts I ever had about friends with all male children and I hope that they know if they read this, that I love them and that I am truly sorry. I just didn't understand.

And maybe my Starman won't call me much when he is all grown up, or maybe he will. And maybe he would rather write a check than come decorate my doorway, or maybe not. It is up to him what kind of man he will choose to become and I will accept him wherever he is at. He is special, not in spite of being a boy, but because he is a boy.