When our baby was still a baby
I get asked a lot of the same questions. Reading the answers to them will help you get to know me quickly.
Does psychowith6 mean that you’re a psychologist with six kids or that your kids are making you psycho?
Are they all yours?
No, they belong to God and my husband is half responsible.
No, though during several pregnancies, I looked like I was having more than one.
Six kids…don’t you know what causes that?
Yes, and my husband and I like it more than watching TV.*
You only have one girl. Is she a tomboy?
Not at all, except she has a mean right hook.
What does your husband do?
Whatever he wants. He also sells library books to schools.
Do you still have a counseling practice?
No, I get all the practice I need with my family.
Don’t you feel you’re wasting your education?
If you knew my kids well, you’d realize a Ph.D. is required to raise them.
How do you do it?
I could tell you, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t approve.
Why do you keep changing websites?
I have BADD–Blogging Attention Deficit Disorder. Help me out by commenting to keep my attention.
*Credit goes to the Lowe family for this answer.
Twelve years ago I gave birth to my third son. In my heart of hearts, I knew he was a boy before the doctor said so. What I didn’t know was how much I would be affected by the knowledge that I would never have a daughter.
My husband and I wanted two to three children when we got married. When boys number one and two arrived, I assumed baby number three would be a girl. I was the oldest with two brothers. Every family I knew growing up either had both genders or all girls. The baby dolls I played with were girls. I never seriously considered that I would have an all-boy family. Until that’s what I had.
The Truth is Taboo
I knew immediately that I couldn’t tell a soul that while I was crazy about my beautiful, healthy newborn son, I was sad about the daughter I would never have. If I were honest about how I felt, people would accuse me of not being grateful for my children or not trusting God or not even being a good mother. After all, there were women in China abandoning babies of the less-preferred gender, weren’t there? To say that I wished for a daughter in addition to my incredible sons was a sin. And so I was silent and I grew very, very depressed.
One thing we know from studying veterans of wars and victims of crime is that if hurting people don’t express what they’re feeling, they are at risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and worse. As I continued to deny my feelings, the stress I was under in parenting three boys ages three and under escalated.
Thankfully, I found a group of women online who felt like I did–women who, like me, assumed they would have a child of both genders, but didn’t. Also, like me, they wrestled with guilt for feeling as they did and with the unwritten rule that you didn’t talk about how you felt. As I got to know these mothers, I learned two things that are important for mothers with the baby gender blues:
- You have to talk about it. You might not be able to tell your mother, your in-laws, or even your best friend, but there is another mother out there who knows what you’re going through. Be honest with her about how you feel.
- Let go of the guilt. Needing time to adjust to a different plan than you envisioned is not wrong. In fact, the more guilty you feel, the longer the adjustment time.
Others’ Comments are Unkind
When I thought I was adjusting well to the idea that I wouldn’t have a daughter, someone would say something that would set me back. Here are just a few of the things I heard and what I thought:
- I just can’t imagine not having my daughters. (She thinks my life will be awful without one.)
- I just don’t see you being the mother of a daughter. (I’m not good or girly enough to have a daughter.)
- I just got lucky having a girl after having boys. (I’m not lucky.)
- That is so, so sad that you don’t have a girl. (There’s no bright side.)
- Boys don’t take care of their parents. (I’ll be lonely in my old age.)
- You only get to be involved in weddings and with grandkids with your daughters. (I’ll be left out of my kids’ lives.)
With the help of friends who experienced similar unkind comments, I learned two more things that can help mothers with baby gender blues:
- People say stupid things that simply aren’t true, even if they believe them. I was blessed with a very close relationship with my mother-in-law. I knew that God willing, I could be close to daughters-in-law, too. I also knew families of all grown boys who took great care of their elderly mother and I knew grandmas with only sons who were very close to their grandkids. Look for the exceptions to these ridiculous rules. You’ll find them.
- People often have ulterior motives for what they say. People who are jealous of you will use what they suspect is a disappointment to their advantage. People who are hurting about their own family will often want the company of your misery. Consider the source. Are the people who love you best encouraging you? Listen to them.
My husband and I had three more children, the fifth a daughter. But having a daughter hasn’t changed my compassion for women with the baby gender blues. I remember that time in my life well.
To be supportive of a mother of one gender:
- Don’t assume they’re upset. Not everyone is disappointed.
- Don’t express sympathy. If you’re close, ask the mother how she feels about the baby’s gender and respond accordingly. If you’re not a confidant, don’t mention it.
- Don’t tell her gender doesn’t matter. You’ll contribute to her guilt.
- Compliment mom and baby. Tell her how beautiful her child is and what a great job she does in parenting.
- Share positive examples. People who told me about adorable families with all boys were my heroes. My pediatrician made me smile when he said, “You’ll always be the queen.”
- Use humor. When we learned that baby #4 was a boy, too, our brother-in-law said we might as well remove all the toilet seats. I should have taken his advice.
those who hope in me will not be disappointed. (Isaiah 49:23b)
While we may experience temporary disappointment in all aspects of life, we will never be disappointed in the God who loves us and will never leave us.
Has anyone said anything hurtful about the gender of your children or have you inadvertently said something to a parent with all boys or girls?
The first thing we are tempted to do when dealing with our inner brat is to give her some rules. Your brat procrastinated on that big project and you had to stay up all night getting it done? She hasn't taken advantage of that expensive gym membership even one time since January? She has been web surfing for hours while the laundry evolves into a leviathon?
You surmise that what your brat needs is some good old-fashioned discipline. From now on, she is going to be up at 5:45 a.m. so she can be at the gym first thing. She could have gotten away with working out three days a week if she had kept at it in January, but now that it's summer, she will be up and sweating every single day if it kills her. You don't care how tired she is after a long day of exercising, working, teaching, mothering, cooking, and housekeeping, she IS going to spend an hour working on long-term projects before she even touches the computer keyboard. And two loads of laundry must be washed, dried, folded, and put away each evening or she will not be able to read or watch TV. She'll learn, right?
The rebel that lives inside of each one of us revolts in response to rules. I have witnessed this time and time again in people I love who are more outer than inner rebels. Rules are quickly assessed as "stupid" and not applicable to them. As an outward rule follower myself, I marvel at their refusal to acquiesce, and deep down, respect them for it. Nine times out of ten they are absolutely right that the rule is wrong. If you listen closely, you will hear your inner rebel roar when you give them rules like:
- Absolutely no fat, carbs, or sweets
- Everything must be recorded and tagged in a to-do list
- Every decent photo must be scrapbooked and journaled chronologically
- Everything you eat must be weighed, measured, and recorded
- Every goal must be written, shared, and broken down into mini steps
- You must eat 9-11 servings of produce and drink 11 cups of water daily
- You must adhere to the schedule laid out in 15-minute increments
Most people who struggle to make meaningful lasting change are dealing with an inner rebel who hates rules. Two case studies. The first is FLYLady. I wrote a Woman's Day article about her home organizing routines more than a decade ago. Although she was an immediate success, there were as many anti-FLYLady responders as there were fan girls. FLYLady's rule that women wear their shoes all day really raised a rebel ruckus. Groups of FLYLady adherents formed whose identity was simply that they refused to wear their shoes in the house.
A second case study. Mark Forster developed a system of task management that initially thrilled his rebel forum. Tasks could be accomplished simply by intuition, when they "felt ready to be done." The only problem was there were still a number of rules in the system. Immediately, the forum members objected to the rules and began proposing alternate rules. More than two years later, they are still at it.
If you are giving your rebel rules, your inner forum is revolting against you! So what are we to do? Don't we still need rules to get our rebel in line? Rules work better for rebels when:
- There are few of them. That's why trying to crack down in multiple areas backfires.
- There is a really good reason for the rules you have. A rebel will immediately ask, "Why should I?" You better be ready with an excellent answer!
- The rules aren't merely to please people. People pleasing isn't what rebels do.
- The rules aren't extreme. Rebels still believe in common sense.
- The rules aren't based in fear. Rebels aren't afraid of much, especially consequences that "might, possibly" happen.
I will give you a personal example of the Rebel Rules Philosophy in action. I would like to cook healthier meals more often. So today I noted a weekly menu on AllRecipes.com that was for grilled meals, complete with shopping list. I read one review that raved about this menu and I added it to my shopping list. My kids and the cicadas outside were very noisy at the time, but I could hear my inner rebel pitching a fit. She was saying, "You're supposed to grill EVERY DAY for a week? Really? Your kids are going to eat grilled zucchini boats? Uh-huh. And you're going to make a grilled dessert every night? That is just stupid!"
So rather than do what I would normally do and buy everything I need for the grilled weekly menu, only to let the stuff spoil because I don't cook it, and then wonder why I am so lazy, I listened to my rebel. I might grill once or twice this week instead.
What kinds of rules have you given your rebels that have been resisted? Are there any rules you've laid down that have lasted?
The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Intro