For my entire career as a mother, I have been a 'mother of boys'. There is a badge of honor that goes with that title. It means you aren't afraid of tackling, playing ball, and poop jokes. It means you understand and have managed the crazy prolonged explosions of energy from the pint-sized male—or team of males—in your house. It means that you have accepted that every piece of furniture in your home may and will be used as a trampoline, jungle gym, or wrestling mat. For some reason, being a mother of only boys makes you feel like you have acquired a toughness, something inside says, "I'd rather play paintball than have a tea party."
There is also an acceptance of a solitude in your gender within your immediate family. You can love your boys entirely but there are many experiences in your life you cannot share with them simply because you are a female and they are not. I've never considered myself to be particularly girly, all princesses and pink bows, but I do consider myself to be feminine. I like romantic movies and cooking. I like to look pretty and turn my husband's head when I have time to make the effort. I like to talk to my girl friends for hours over coffee with no need to play a game or tackle them. I've had my heart broken by boys and I've struggled with having a positive body image, and in the most basic of terms, I am a girl who has lived through the regular ups and downs of my gender.
Before I knew my baby's gender, I felt like it didn't matter what the baby was, boy or girl, I just wanted a healthy child. With our past struggles, my prayer to God has been, "Please let this baby have a birthday." I had a dream before the 'reveal' ultrasound that my fourth child was a boy. In the dream I cried. No. Let me be more accurate. I wept, hard. I don't think I realized that if I never had a daughter, that there would be something considerable to mourn. And that is, the loss of the potential for understanding and companionship of a distinct level with my child.
When I did find out that this baby was a girl, I was very happy, but being the mother of only boys made me doubt my ability to raise her. All I've known as a mom is 'boy'. How in the world, am I going to get used to frills and tights, and accessories and dolls and PINK for heaven's sake! And what if I don't know how to handle the level of emotions that I hear so much about from the mothers of girls? What if, what if, what if...
So for the second half of my pregnancy, I have been living with the conundrum of getting the daughter that innately I always wanted and dreading being her mother. What a funny thing to be a woman who can hold all these crazy emotions at one time—compound that with crazy hormones and you have a mess, to be sure. My poor husband and boys have been living with a monster!
A month ago, much to everyone's relief, she came. The Appel Girl. Elodie Marie Helen. Beautiful and perfect, with a full head of brown hair.
Three weeks ago, I was a boy mom, afraid of a little pink and pretty. But there is something about the newness and softness of her little self that makes me think I can start over, and be a gentler soul. A mom who can get excited about the little pink dress with the roses on it with no shame.
Three weeks ago, my little family changed forever. And not just because we have a brand new baby, or because the baby is simply splendid and sweet, but it is because the baby is a girl.