It’s stereotypical but true. Growing up as the youngest of two girls, estrogen dominated our household, and our schedules, lives and activities reflected that. Many were the weekends where my father could be found wandering the mall, waiting outside Contempo or Express or Dress Barn in the most impossibly patient way for my mom, sister and me to wrap up our shopping. The guy spent so much time just sitting on mall concourse benches, I wouldn’t be surprised if his name is etched on one somewhere in Robinson Township, PA.
Fast forward a couple decades from those mall madness days to the day I found out, almost five years ago, that I was pregnant with my first baby. When my family and friends posed that oft-asked question, “What do you want??” I had no hesitation in saying…
A girl! Duh.
The ways of little girls—of course, having grown up as one—were so, well, familiar to me. As different as we are as females and as unpredictable as we are as individuals, having a girl still somehow felt a more familiar expedition into parenthood than having a boy. What in the world would I do with a boy?
Well, we all know what God does when we ask for something specific, right? These three things, in this order:
1 – Laughs uncontrollably
2 – Waves a divine scepter or magic wand of some sort, long white curling beard bouncing about
3 – Gives us the exact opposite of what we expect
You guessed where this story is going, right? Weeks later after my declaration to the universe that I wanted a baby girl, I found out that I was having a boy. And you know what I did when I walked out of the doctor’s office as I was finding my car in the parking lot? I cried. Hard.
This is the part where you judge me. Go ahead.
It feels just as wrong to admit that I had a gender preference as it probably does for you to read it. But I know that I’m not alone. I know other moms have felt the same way.
And I know how it turned out for all of us. So shockingly beautiful, we can’t even believe we thought—in any universe—that we would want what we don’t have.
Of course that’s what happened with me, too.
The truth is, my love for my son is so unique, so arrestingly deep, that I find myself—every time I think about our journey together as mom and first child—actually crying.
In this love I never knew existed, I found my sea legs as a mother, and my soul as a person. All of those clichés about the mother-son bond actually reverberate with me now. Never could I have previously imagined the deep truths that they were rooted in.
I call it the single most surprising love of my life, because I never knew how incredible this bond would be. With romantic love, you know how it is supposed to feel. With the bond between a mother and daughter, you can guess at it, even if you never knew it personally. But this bond between a mother and her son, this is in a world all its own.
Unlike a daughter, who is your best friend and soul counterpart, your son is the piece of your heart you never knew was missing until you got him.
I am blessed now to have a daughter, too, and another girl on the way, and I love them just as fiercely and uniquely.
But—for the journey I have gone through as a human, for the growth and learning and taste of sweet, simple love—I have my son… my heart- and soul-opening son… to thank.