Something that having kids has taught me is that I need to let go a little (lot). When it was just Mark and I, we could plan things and they would mostly turn out how they were supposed to. With kids? They don't care that you have a plan. They are small people, but they still have their own agenda. I needed to adjust my expectations and celebrate the successes. Maybe some of that comes with getting older, but I feel like its one of the big things that our kids have taught me. There are a lot of things in life that you just can't plan for.
When I was pregnant with Zoe, we found out the sex at the 20 week ultrasound and we were thrilled to find out we were having a girl. We bought all the pink things and girly stuff, made all the plans. She was born and she was for sure a Daddy's Girl. They were buddies, and if Mark was around I was clearly the second choice. I'm not going to lie, it hurt a little (lot), I grew her inside of my body for nine months, and there were times that she wouldn't give me the time of day.
Her and Mark were just bonded in a way that she and I weren't. I faulted myself for that. Maybe he was just a better mom than me? Reality is that she's every bit opinionated and stubborn as I am and those two things don't mix well. She also takes after Mark, shes a big dork, loves Science and learning. So they bond over those things, while her and I butt heads about our similarities.
Being that Zoe was our first baby we didn't really have any expectations or wants in regards to her sex. By the time we were expecting our second child, I really wanted to have another girl. That seems weird right? I already had one that didn't particularly seem to like me. But, I wanted Zoe to have the sister that I never had. (Sorry, Aaron.) I wanted her to have that sister to sister relationship, someone to play dolls with, have tea parties with. We were only planning on having two kids (HA!) so this was her only chance in my mind to get that.
Mark's Thoughts: Being a man that never really played sports, I was hoping for a girl when Zoe was born, I had no idea what to do with a boy. I've never felt like a "manly-man". My definition of what a "man" is has changed a lot since then, but at the time I thought a man was the typical "play sports" "watch football" image of the great American Dad. I didn't tell Crystal this, which kind of illustrates how poorly we communicated in the beginning of our marriage (like most people).
I'm going to talk about something that no one talks about, because it needs to be talked about. When we found out we were having a boy I was disappointed, upset, and scared. I feel absolutely terrible about that to this day. How can you be upset when you have a healthy baby? I was, and it was totally selfish and terrible. But in the end, those feelings are valid and I shouldn't have felt I needed to hide the fact that I felt that way. As parents, no one talks about these experiences. If only for the fact that we can validate for other parents that its OK.
Why was I so disappointed? I was disappointed that Zoe wouldn't get that "sister" experience. Scared, because I had a girl and knew what to expect. What was I going to do with a boy? They smell, and like gross things. Sports? Yeah… no, totally not my thing. I was upset that my expectations weren't being met, because I had already built up the picture of how it was going to be in my head. I was also upset at myself for having these feelings.
Oliver was born and he was a typical Mama's Boy. I got to see first hand the special "thing" that Mark and Zoe had. He was (is) so sweet and loving. He didn't have nearly the amount of "sass" that Zoe had. Of course the Mom Guilt kicks in and I feel even worse that I was disappointed that he was him. Come to find out having a boy wasn't so bad. Sure, they do smell bad, but they also love their Mama's so fiercely and their sisters almost as much. They're always up for a snuggle. Come to find out, I really like watching them play sports.
Mark's Thoughts: I was worried when Oliver was born because, again, I didn't think I would be able to do "manly" Dad stuff with him. Afterward I realized it didn't matter even a little bit. For reasons I don't understand, Dad's are cool in their kids eyes for at least the first few years, regardless of their athletic prowess. Oliver also grew to love sports, and in the process I did too to a point. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be cheering and shouting at the top of my lungs at a little league baseball game, but it happens now.
When we were pregnant with Elijah, we decided not to find out the sex until birth. We already had one of each. We were planning to do his whole pregnancy/birth much differently than the other two, so why not wait unlike the previous two kids. Plus we had had a miscarriage a few months before, so it made me really thankful that we were even getting a chance to have a third child. Some, people don't get a chance at all.
What I didn't tell (most) people is that I didn't want to be disappointed again. No expectations = no chance for disappointment. I still wanted that sister experience for Zoe, but also thought it would be pretty cool to have two boys to dote on me and that brother experience for Oliver. Not knowing until birth meant that I didn't have time to have a let down.
Mark's Thoughts: Not to go off on a tangent, but this is really how you get through parenting. You just enjoy whats happening, and try to drop any expectations you might have. Oliver started playing baseball 3 years ago, which is amazing, but next season he might want to try ballet, or basketball, or golf; I have no idea. Whatever it is though, I'll be there cheering. Same with the rest of the kids. I have no idea what they will want to do, but I'll be there discovering it with them.
Turns out, you can't be upset about something silly like a penis or vagina when you've just worked your ass off to birth a baby. Once you look into that little persons face, it doesn't matter for one second whats between their legs. Plus, mother nature makes sure you have all that Oxytocin rushing through your body. That moment, after holding him in my arms for a while, finally looking to see who he was, was just amazing.
So amazing, that the fourth time we also didn't find out the sex, and I wish that I could go back and not find out with the first two. By the time we were pregnant for the fourth time, I had pretty much resigned myself that Zoe was never going to get a sister. Come to find out matchbox cars, dirt, and robots weren't so bad. We talked about if we would prefer one or the other and we didn't really care. It would have been neat to have three boys in a row. After all, Zoe was going to be nine years older than the youngest baby. What could they possibly have in common at that point?
I had never had a feeling that our kids were one sex or the other before, but I was pretty sure that we were having a girl the fourth time around. I didn't verbalize it though, because I didn't want to be disappointed by the image that I built up in my head. Remember, no expectation, no disappointment. Turned out I was right and we got that second girl. Obviously we were just thrilled to have that healthy baby, but the girl bookends was a nice way to complete our family.