I Have Four Daughters

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This was written while I was pregnant and before we lost our baby at 18 weeks. Regardless of how many kids we have or if we have any more in the future, my sentiments are the same. Thought this was worth sharing anyway.

I have four daughters. Ring the alarm bell and send in the gender police! There are four of them and they all have vaginas. We have no less than 95 pairs of panties in some hue of pink or purple and we’ve elected to shove them all in one underwear drawer because, well, it’s too confusing to separate them. (and interestingly enough, the butt areas of all my kids are relatively similar in size despite the 10 year span in ages. So weird, I know.) Our dryer lint is pink and studded with glitter and we have some shirts that have been worn by 6 girls – two older cousins then handed down to every one of my girls. My garage is like a Goodwill on estrogen and it’s a full time job just rotating and organizing seasonal wardrobe changes. Oh, and we homeschool and live on a small farm.

I’m also pregnant with our fifth baby. Seriously, this better be a boy or old ladies in Walmart will revolt! When in public, we’re always drawing attention to ourselves. Not purposely, of course, and not because my kids are social misfits or ugly. They’re all adorable (of course) and pretty well behaved and line up behind our grocery cart like goofy little ducklings. I wear whoever the baby is in a baby backpack. People really eat it up. I usually get the obligatory “Are these all yours?” at some point during most outings and they say things like, “Your poor husband.” or “Oh my, the weddings!” or “I see you’re still trying for a boy.”

Actually, we were just trying for a baby.

Sometimes the comments are borderline idiotic like, “Don’t you know how this happens?” and “You know there’s a pill for that.” My recent favorite is, “You must really like your husband.” You hit the nail on the head, lady.

Just to set the record straight and put your mind at ease, we haven’t had this many children to satisfy some primeval requirement to propagate the species or produce a male heir. It’s like people let us off the hook for recklessly producing so many offspring simply because we only have children of one gender. They try to make sense of why we’d do it and that’s all they can come up with.

To get a boy.

Because we don’t have one.

And obviously we need one.

Because our family can’t possibly be complete with only girls.

Well, I hate to burst your myopic ‘merican bubble, but for us –  a family isn’t four.

Somehow in the last 50 years or so, children have become a burden. Male or female, they cost a lot and you have to put a lot of work and effort into them and get virtually nothing in return. You have to pay a small fortune to birth them, buy formula and all manner of knick knacks to keep them alive, not sleep for three years and pay an arm and a leg for daycare while Mom and Dad go to sweat out a living and hopefully save something for college along the way. (even though these days it’s unlikely they’ll fly the coop before 27) If you look at it this way, two kids is certainly enough and I’d even venture to say, why bother at all?

I’m not really sure if we planned to have this many kids. I think we decided to play it by ear past three and see how we felt. Once we got to three kids, something happened. We realized that these little people are a huge blessing. Not only do they entertain us endlessly, but they can contribute. Have you ever set a 4, 7 and 10 year old loose on a weedy garden patch? They’re surprisingly adept at tearing it up! And their backs don’t hurt afterward. 10 year olds are really good at entertaining babies for long periods. 7 year olds can clean a bathroom and change a diaper like nobody’s business.

I think we’ve got cheap baby-raising down to an art. My husband’s female co-worker told him once that she was really pining for a second baby but there was no way they could afford more formula, diapers, baby gear and daycare. One kid had them maxed out. He had trouble processing it. Aside from diapers and extra food for a ravenous breastfeeding woman, our babies are pretty affordable. They don’t need much. A mom, a boob, a blanket, maybe a Bumbo. They’re happy.

For us, babies aren’t a burden, a bottom line or falling into the red. Girls or boys, they’re a major blessing and I wake up every day just feeling thankful that I have these four little girls who are mine. I’m thankful for all the screaming and dramatic declarations that someone hurt someone else’s feelings. I’m excited to line them up factory style for hairdos before we go out. I relish every time I unpack the box in my garage labelled “Newborn Layette” even though everything in it is pink and purple.

Do I want a boy? Sure, I’d love to have a boy. But I’d also appreciate a new little girl just as much. More than anything, I feel a pang of sadness that the world doesn’t get a little boy raised by my incredible husband. The world needs more men like him. But I know that our four (maybe 5) little women will go out into the world knowing how a man is supposed to treat them and what they should be looking for in a partner. At the end of the day, can I hope for anything more than that?

When the well-meaning folks of the supermarket give me the third degree about our personal family choices and our plight of having all of these beautiful and precocious girls, I just go with it. I throw up my hands and feign a wistful heart for my apparent misfortune and horror for the days to come of simultaneous periods and paying for weddings. I occasionally entertain the notion of saying something slightly more snarky, but I wonder if it would make a difference. People are convinced that kids are all investment and no payoff.

All I know is that I’ve found my life’s mission in the hearts of my little girls. Each one of them enlightens me and enriches my life with her individual personality. Each little nugget challenges me with her unique set of trials and abilities. There is never a dull moment in our house and my husband and I cherish each and every day. We wouldn’t trade our little women for anything.








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