The Truth About Gender Disappointment

The-Boys

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‘Your boys are going to grow up and leave you and you’ll end up all alone.’

……………………………………………

These were the first words that greeted me one morning at work as a regular client of mine decided to start sharing his ‘honest’ opinions about my position as an all boy mama.

This client was an outspoken regular so I tried not to take it to heart, but as a mum of two boys and no daughters, this kind of comment was becoming a regular occurrence.

‘Oh you poor thing, when are you going to try for a girl?’

‘You must be so sad to only have boys’

‘I would be so disappointed if I had only had boys’

The thing is, most mums of all boys have probably heard all of this before.

Once upon a time a baby boy was the coveted sex but it now seems that society has decided that girls are the favoured sex and boys are just too … loud. Boy like.

Boy Definition

Boys are stereotyped as loud, exuberant and physical. It appears some in society feel sorry for those of us who have more than one and no girls to balance it out. One is considered ok (after all, you can always try again for a girl right?), two (you must be so disappointed), three (were you trying for a girl? You poor thing), four (are you going to stop now, four boys?!), five (you must be crazy!).

I’m absolutely sure it’s not only boy mums who get given flak, I’m pretty sure dads of all girls probably get the same kind of comments from the blokes at work about being surrounded by women for the rest of his life.

The difference is that all boy mums are often genuinely felt sorry for and I also believe that the current attitude in society towards us is another reason that gender disappointment is so rampant these days in women who do only have little boys.

For some reason when I imagined myself as a mother, I imagined I would have a daughter. To be honest it never really occurred to me I would have all boys! Not in a bad way, I just think subconsciously we often mirror in our heads the familial situation we grew up in ourselves which for me was one sister.

I grew up surrounded by women. My mum and I lived with my Nana until I was five years old, with two aunts close by. And later when my mum married, a ready made older sister (and if she is reading this she will probably laugh for ready made sisters were probably not what each of us had in mind and we didn’t always see eye to eye!). Ironically she also went on to have two boys and I followed suit a few years later. My mum would have been completely out of her depth with four grandsons, never was there a more girly girl than my mum, despite the fact she grew up on a farm!

I have to admit that the fact I will never have a daughter to mirror that mother/daughter relationship that I lost was at one point a source of heartache and I did suffer from gender disappointment when I found out number 2 was a boy. I cried and I mourned the fact I would never have a daughter. I even went to counselling and what I discovered was that it really has nothing to do with having the quintessence girl to play dress ups and do girly stuff with but deep down it was just another platform exacerbating that loss of a close female relationship and comments like these throughout my second pregnancy never helped.

‘What are you having this time?’
‘Another boy’
‘Oh, sorry to hear that … oh well, at least you know they’ll be good friends!’

or

‘Oh you poor thing’

or

‘Will you try again then?’

This before the poor boy was even out! No wonder we get a complex.

In my instance I was able to identify the fact that my disappointment stemmed from feeling like my mum had helped me to get pregnant, after a long journey through infertility and IVF to conceive my first son this particular pregnancy had happened instantly so I felt that the pregnancy was a divine gift and that it would be a girl (as nutty as that may sound!). It also became apparent at that time that I had not grieved her death properly and it just opened up a whole torrent of emotion and the gender scan that revealed I was carrying another baby boy became the trigger. Thankfully I was able to work it through and was well over it by that time he was born and what a very special little boy he is. Our bond is amazing and he is a total mummy’s boy, I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it but I still carry guilt for reacting the way I did, even though I know deep down that there was a whole gamut of emotions and circumstances involved.

Still, it has taught me some valuable lessons.

What I have learnt about gender disappointment:

  1. People don’t choose to experience gender disappointment. It is not about selfishness or not being happy with what you have been blessed with, it is far more complicated. Emotions can be complex and sometimes there is no rhyme nor reason as to why you may be feeling the way you do but the important thing is to do everything you can to work through it before the baby arrives. Its certainly not something you want hanging over your head for the rest of your life and often there is some underlying issues that need working through like there was in my instance.
  2. Once the baby arrives the gender disapointment usually dissipates pretty quickly so if you are in fear of experiencing it then not finding out the gender in advance could work in your favour. On the flip side, if you are already feeling anxious about it then finding out to be able to prepare and work through it in advance could be beneficial.
  3. It’s ok to mourn the child that you will never have. Sometimes we grow up with visions of a little girl or little boy and when that doesnt happen you can feel a loss but mourn it and move on, you don’t ever want your child to pick up on this and some things are out of your control.
  4. While a pigeon pair seems to be the height of success in the baby making stakes in this day and age, there is something to be said about the relationship between same sex siblings. Embrace it. Sometimes a brother to a boy or a sister for a girl can be the best gift you ever give them.
  5. Boys really are no different to girls. At the end of the day I have learnt that it is not the sex of the child but who the child is that counts.

What I have learnt from having all boys:

  1. When you say you have all boys many people show sympathy for you and ask you if you are going to try for a daughter. I have had so many instances of being asked by strangers if I plan to try again to get a girl. Seriously. I have heard the response ‘Oh, you poor thing’ more times than I can count. Unless they are a parent of all boys too and then you instantly feel a kinship, which brings me to point number 2 ..
  2. Any other all boy mum you meet you feel an instant bond with. You share this journey with them. They get it.
  3. Boys are super affectionate and loving. They are no less so than girls and in some instances maybe more so.
  4. Boys love their mummy’s.
  5. Boys love to go out with their dads to do boy stuff and give mum a break (yes!).
  6. I love love love being an all boy mum. It is a whole new adventure and a whole new chapter in my life. I love to wrestle and play with them, I love the things they teach me about myself, I love that it makes me step outside of my comfort zone and do stuff that was never really my cup of tea before.
  7. As long as I have a cup of coffee in my hand (or have recently had a cup of coffee in my hand) and wine in the fridge (or a cold beer, I’m not fussy!), I can survive all those previously thought ‘boy activities’.
  8. I have learnt that I wouldn’t change my two gorgeous boys for the world, no matter how many daughters I was promised.

Linking up with #IBOT @ Essentially Jess

DISCLAIMER: I’m sure some mums of all girls have probably had there fair share of comments directed at them as well, this is just my experience as a mum to all boys and in no way am I saying that the shoe is never on the other foot.

If you are a mum of boys too then here is a more lighthearted post about parenting boys and my most popular post ever 10 Truths About Little Boys

54 thoughts on “The Truth About Gender Disappointment

  1. That’s not nutty at all, Haidee. I can definitely see where you’re coming from. I’m glad you were able to talk it through with someone and work out your feelings. People just don’t have any tact, do they? As a mum of two girls, there have been times when people have said – oh just you wait until they’re teenagers. Life will be hell. Wait until they get their periods. Oh your poor husband. I just put it down to these people being mindless idiots lol. My friend, a mother of two boys and one on the way, cops it in a similar way to you and it really does upset her.
    Renee recently posted…Making fruit and vegies funMy Profile

  2. A truly lovely post.
    I used to cop all of this too and my poor first born daughter. ‘Oh the only girl with all brothers – poor thing!’ Horrific! In the end I began to tell people off when they made these comments! It worked! People would realise the stupidity of their observation and apologise. Don’t hold back from letting these people know how shallow and careless these comments are. Be the change you want to see in the world. Boys are lovely to raise (girls too), but you are not missing out. I have a great time with my four boys and enjoy their affection and love playing rough and tumble with them. They just get better with age too. (They’re LOADS cheaper to raise as well!)
    Jody at Six Little Hearts recently posted…Nestle Healthy Active Kids Encouraging Little Chefs and WIN!…My Profile

  3. What an honest blog Haidee – congrats. I remember when i was pregnant with my first, I didn’t care what it was but I knew deep in my heart (somewhere I was afraid to share) that all I wanted was at least 1 girl. I wanted to have 4 kids and didn’t care if I had 3 boys I just wanted 1 girl. Now I feel guilty feeling that as now I have children – all I ever dreamed of as a little girl is having someone to love. I have 2 of each so you couldn’t get more even than that. Boys are often more affectionate than girls and they they love cuddles (even my cool 12 yr old).

  4. Great post- this really applies to a close friend of mine. Gender disappointment is very real. You know, I have two daughters and both pregnancies I was sure I’d have a little boy. I was utterly shocked each time the ultrasound persons said girl! I was disappointed. It passed quickly, but what you said about mourning the loss of a child you thought you’d have? Very true. I am so lucky that I have a step-son and step-daughter as well 🙂
    Amy @ HandbagMafia recently posted…An Open Letter to Parents Who “Elf on the Shelf”My Profile

    1. It is very real Amy and rarely is it ever talked about because no one wants to admit it, it’s not a nice feeling to want to admit to but I also believe it’s misunderstood and people think that it means that the person experiencing it is not appreciative of what they have got but it’s not about that at all.

  5. With my second, I really wanted another boy but I was too embarrassed to say anything to anyone, then 2 days before the birth I said it to a friend with 3 boys, thinking she’d understand and there was that horrible pause, and then she said “I’m sure you’ll love it whatever it is” which made me wish I’d said nothing. I did have another boy and was flooded with relief.
    Many years later we had a girl, and I’d be slightly insulted for my boys when people would say “You must be so relieved you got a girl”. It’s a weird thing, this ‘pigeon pair’ rule….
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…Thinking New Year Resolutions? Think one that will change the worldMy Profile

  6. I think it’s normal to subconsciously expect what was our normal as a kid. I still get weirded out when I hear/see of people who have kids with only 1-2 (even 3) years age difference – because my sister & I are 5 years apart so that’s “normal”.
    Vanessa recently posted…2015 Gift GuideMy Profile

  7. This is really interesting to read Haidee. Especially as I am now in the same boat! To be honest I was afraid to have a girl, as I didn’t want her to lose her mum like I did. Completely irrational but all those subconscious thoughts are sown deep. I’m really looking forward to having two boys become great friends 🙂 thanks for sharing c

    1. I can completely get where that is coming from Marie, in fact it passed through my mind that at least that skips the breast cancer gene a generation if indeed I do have that (I haven’t been tested). I don’t think that is irrational at all! You will LOVE having two boys, the bond between them will be amazing and the joy and laughter and NOISE!
      Haidee recently posted…A Birthday Letter To My Littlest ManMy Profile

  8. People can feel sorry for me all they like but I don’t give a fuck. I have two beautiful children that bring me endless love and joy every single day, and they happen to both be male. Any disappointment is theirs to deal with. I won’t pretend to understand gender disappointment but I’d never judge anyone who experiences it. Humans are complicated creatures 🙂

    1. I love your honesty Melissa! I don’t think I would have experienced it myself if my mum were still here as that gap wouldn’t have been left gaping. I have learnt as the boys have got older though that gender has nothing to do with the bond we experience as parents for our children and I couldn’t care less either 🙂 And yes, humans are complicated creatures!
      Haidee recently posted…A Birthday Letter To My Littlest ManMy Profile

  9. I get comments wondering how my one son will cope with three sisters! (Occasionally he asks when I’m getting him a brother, but he will be waiting a while.)
    I’ve had friends in the same place as you, and so I try to be careful what I say. I am one of the lucky ones who got the girl she always wanted, but I know if I had missed out, I would have been upset too. I don’t think that’s bad. I think it’s just what it is.
    EssentiallyJess recently posted…Hinds’ Feet in High Places #IBOTMy Profile

  10. Its crazy what people say, the amount of times people say Well done to me when they find out I have two pigeon pairs. Girl and boy 10 and 8, and a girl and boy 3 and 2.
    Like it was anything I did (well apart from the obvious) 🙂 to make it happen.
    Sarah @ Bubsandbeans recently posted…Mum guilt vs GeneticsMy Profile

  11. Well fellow boy mumma, I happen to agree with everything you have said here. I cop so much flack for having 3 boys and still get asked when we will be trying for number 4!! Seriously! People can’t seem to get their head around the fact that we opted to have a third child because we wanted a third child NOT A GENDER. I have witnessed some of the most lovely bonds between boys and their Mums that last a lifetime. Boys look after their Mum in many situations and that lasts. I can’t wait to have 3 men around me in years to come and just think! Daughter in laws and probably grand daughters to dote on one day. Regards of sex, they’re all children. All hard work, all loving and wanted. I really do wish people where more careful about their comments, it is highly irritating and just inappropriate!
    Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad recently posted…Dropping ByMy Profile

  12. This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. No disclaimers required. I think you’re allowed a moment of disappointment. I have the pigeon pair and I’m sick of all the ‘oh, so you’re done’ and ‘well done, good planning’ *groan* comments. And that’s with no emotional journey attached. So I can’t imagine what it’s like. x
    Emily recently posted…Top web reads of NovemberMy Profile

  13. Isn’t it funny how people can be so tactful and sensitive about a whole range of things, but for some reason when it comes to the gender of your children, all bets are off? We had two girls, and were met with the same level of disappointment from others that you’ve experienced with your little guys. I even got a ‘sorry’ when we announced our second born was also a girl! I’ve recently had a third… and it’s a boy. Well… you’d think I birthed the second coming of Jesus or something. Lots of ‘oh thank GOODNESS you had a boy’ and ‘finally!’ and ‘your husband must be so happy he’s got a boy now’. Like our other two kids were just a practice run for the golden boy! They’re all freaking awesome, no matter what gender. But I totally get your feelings and processing the grief of your Mum too. x
    Sasha @ From the Left Field recently posted…How to Stop ChroverwhelmMy Profile

  14. I have girl, boy, girl so I haven’t had to deal with these kinds of comments myself, but I can’t imagine giving them. All children are a blessing so why would anyone say ‘poor you’ and put down your family in this way? And you are right, boys love their mummies and give great hugs! Visiting from #IBOT
    Karen recently posted…Free Christmas Carol PrintablesMy Profile

  15. I really REALLY wanted a girl, but then it took so long to get pregnant a second time I thought two lines would be all I could possibly want.

    And then when I was pregnant I had this near-constant inner battle of telling myself I was having a boy, because then no matter what I’ll be happy. Then a little voice would go “but, maybe it’s a girl” and I’d start getting excited. Then I’d remind myself I might still have a boy, and feel anxious – followed by a big whack of guilt that I could possibly want anything other than a healthy baby. Then cry. Because #theworst. Then tell myself I’m having a boy, and that’s totally okay…. but… maybe it’s a girl… AND AROUND WE GO AGAIN!

    So I had to find out, to save my sanity, because not knowing was going to break me.

    Turns out she is a girl, so it’s all fine, and I’m sure I’d have been okay with a boy, even if I’d be sad never to have a girl.

    The weird thing I’ve discovered though if you have a boy and a girl complete strangers tell you that you shouldn’t have any more babies because you’ve already got one of each. Yeahnah. I’m sorry random stranger, you don’t get to decide how many children I have. Mmmkay.

  16. No dislaimer needed. I don’t think you can win either way! I’m a mum of three girls and before baby #3 arrived earlier this year we constantly heard the “Oh well” comments from most people when they found out we were having another girl. Sigh. I’m grateful to have three healthy, happy children regardless of their gender.
    Erika @ Ever-changing Life of a Mum recently posted…Trust Your Melody: book review, interview + giveawayMy Profile

  17. Aah I understand where you’re coming from — although as a mama to boys I LOVE being the only girl in the house!! It makes me a little bit sad that I’ll never have a daughter — and I often wonder what she’d have looked like — but I absolutely love being queen of my castle. Having little boys is the best thing on earth. #ShareWithMe

  18. This is interesting. When I was pregnant with Lexie everyone kept telling me that girls are harder work than boys. Honestly though, I think babies are babies. Maybe they might be harder in some ways, but boys I’m sure are harder work for different reasons. It’s amazing that people say these sorts of things to you! I always wanted a girl so I am happy but if Lexie wasn’t a girl would I love that little boy any less? I highly doubt it! #sharewithme

  19. Very interesting post. I have a 2.5 year old toddler and am expecting another baby in January. We didn’t check gender with either of the pregnancies. Mostly because I feared that if there was a mistake I would have a hard grieving process to go through. If you know the gender in advance you bond with the child, give it a name, imagine your life together etc, and if another child is born you feel like the one you have been bonding with has been taken away…
    I never thought that strangers might comment in the way you describe, just because your kids are same sex. Well, I guess I might find out soon enough!
    I very much agree with you that having same sex siblings may well be the best gift you can give them.
    #sharewithme
    Joanna @mumbalance recently posted…Home-made natural cold remedy – suitable for young children and in pregnancyMy Profile

  20. There are a lot of posts written about this and this is one of the best ones I’ve read. It’s definitely an emotive topic. I never fail to be amazed by the dumbass comments that come out of people’s mouths. Actually expressing sympathy and the other ones you mention just boggle my mind. BUT that said, when I’ve met people with all boys, I have been know to say ‘oh wow’ or ‘oh my goodness’ . It’s all relative and very personal. I have 3 kids, girl, boy, girl. I was really worried my third would be a boy because I was desperate for another girl. Would I have loved the kid less were it a boy? No of course not.
    And as you say, they all have their characters regardless of gender (so I’m a bit surprised to see the line about boys often being more affectionate than girls…my son is the least affectionate and loving of my kids and I have to beg for a hug).
    One of my sisters was actually depressed for a whole year when her first child was a boy yet loved him to bits at the same time!
    I could go on and on as this is a great post which throws up various aspects of the issue. But I’ll shut up now.
    #ShareWithMe

  21. I have six brothers and am the baby I can imagine my family got this all the time it’s silly really. Every family dynamic is different we don’t all want to be the same and as my momma would say boys are way easier than girls! lol She should know she has a few. lol Great post. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. I hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round. Please note it’s the very last SWM for 2015 and a special edition, year in review so you can link up your favorite four post from this year if you would like and I will return in the New Year ready to read all your amazing blog posts again. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Christmas Table Setting // TablescapesMy Profile

  22. I have three kids – two boys & one girl. I got all of the same comments during my second pregnancy. It always surprises me how forward people are about asking if you will try again or asking if you are disappointed. I can understand why you would be disappointed but it’s not something you want to go around talking to everyone about! Plus, everyone assumed we had a third child to have a girl. There’s no way to know what gender you will have so that’d just be silly, although I was happy to have a daughter. I was just as happy to have my two boys. #WAYWOW x
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…2016 Blog PlansMy Profile

  23. we had a boy and then a girl and I must admit that I was pleased to have one of each. I think it’s to do with gender stereotypes, some sons are more ‘into’ the family life than others. Our son wasn’t big on family relationships, then he married a gorgeous girl who has turned him around and made him more aware of how important his mother is! Hang in there and you might get a daughter-in-law or a granddaughter that fills that little void that you have in your heart for a girl child xxx

  24. Very insightful & interesting. I have seen a lot from bloggers about the comments people make about having all boys. I do think that you are right, though, I actually think that it does happen a fair amount the other way too, but I think dads get it when it is all girls and mums when it is all boys, and as I see more mummy bloggers than dad bloggers I see more about the all boy comments. However, I do think there has also, as you say, become a bit of an idea that boys are always more difficult and naughty. I think it is fair to say that often, not always, if you compare how boys play with how girls do, boys are more physical and more boisterous. I think the error that has occurred is in seeing that as ‘bad’ or a problem. It’s not. Nor is it always even true.

    Funnily enough, before my first, I had a slight (not something I was massively bothered about) preference for boys. I have worked with lots of young kids, and I always found the boys a little easier. I have two girls. And of course, that slight preference went immediately, and I now couldn’t imagine not having or wanting girls! When my second was due, I was quite hoping she would be another girl as I loved my first so much. But, of course, I know full well that had she been a boy, I would have been thrilled with that and thought one of each was perfect! &, had I had two boys, that would also have been perfect! #WAYWOW

  25. I love this post so much! Not just about an initial disappointment in finding out the sex of your child, but so many other things can be applied here. Disabilities, life changes etc. We have to cut ourselves some slack on feeling the disappointment. Grow and get past it.

    And children are such a gift, you were made to be the mom of boys and it looks like you are doing an incredible job of it. Mothering is the hardest job ever, but the most rewarding, isn’t it?

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