Reflection: On Having Boys When I Wanted Girls

IMG_0409I originally published this in 2009 on a blog called Letters to NMW, where I wrote pieces to Noah/about Noah.
It’s been a long time since I wrote you. Such is my life as a working mom.

You turned five months on Monday, and each day you become more and more active. A few weeks ago you mastered the roll, every way. You now prefer your tummy, even sleeping on it. You’re beginning to army crawl. Your giggles fill our house. It’s Christmas time. And I’m in love.


I thought you were a girl.

My high school seniors are writing about love, their relationships. One of my male students writes about his girlfriend who doesn’t treat him well. He spends too much money on her. She seems ungrateful. She seems to be using him. He seems sad.

As your mother, as a mother of a son, I now look at everything differently–especially love, how I treated boys, how I hurt boys, how I hurt mothers’ sons. It kills me now to think of love in my teens and early twenties. How selfish I was. How if someone did that to you one day I’d be heartbroken.

I want you to know that I will be here through all the pain. No one will love you like I do.


Here’s something I wrote recently on your friend Veronica’s mom’s blog about anticipation:

It’s weird remembering being pregnant…it feels so far away now. Some days when I’m driving home from work and Noah’s in the backseat sleeping, I think of last year being pregnant and all the things I could have done and didn’t do, the freedom I had–but didn’t know I had. On those days, I wish I was pregnant again, to anticipate the flutters of his tiny feet, with me every day, swimming in me. How wonderful that was! Everyone said, “You’ll know when it happens.” Waiting for that first real kick. And they were right. I knew it. And it was Noah, without being Noah yet, and that’s an overwhelming thing to think about. To look at him now and imagine him in there, in me. His breath within my body, without breathing yet.

Now, I anticipate every day I get to spend with him. Christmases. First days of school. Swim lessons. Road trips. And the first glass of wine we share.


Tonight, in the bath tub, I watched you kick those feet. Who will you be? Whom will you love? Your life is yours to do something great with.


It’s so interesting to read this now, three years later, Noah almost four, his brother almost one. Two boys. I wanted both of them to be girls.

That’s hard for me to say now, knowing them, loving them. But it’s true. When I was pregnant with Noah, I imagined Sonoma, the name I wanted to give my daughter. I imagined her curls and cute dresses and conversations about boys that we would have in her teens. Then I had Noah, and I forgot about wanting a girl.

When I got pregnant again, the dream of a girl resurfaced. Noah would have a sister and it would be perfect. He would be an amazing big brother. “The good news is…you’re having a girl,” my sister pronounced when I was hosptialized for extreme nausea during my first trimester. We were all convinced.

Then the ultrasound showed a penis. Another penis. Another boy. My boys.

Today, I don’t think about it much. I’m too busy loving these guys to care about pink tutus and period talks. But I know there will be moments in the future when I’ll wonder what a daughter would have been like — wedding days and junior-high dances. Right now, I’m going to bask in the love that my boys give me every day, knowing one day they might love someone else more than me. Right now, I’m going to find joy in being the love of their lives.



12 thoughts on “Reflection: On Having Boys When I Wanted Girls

  1. Evelyn: I am so so so grateful to have boys. Watching moms of girls wears me out;). My teenage boys delight and fill our lives in every way and the conversations are equally precious—perhaps not about periods—but about teachers, friends and girls, about disappointment and small victories. I just wrote a post about ‘bests and worst’ you might like? Here:

    Though I guess it is as much about urban chickens and gardening as it is about boys. Thanks for the reminder to be ever present. It goes much, much to quickly. I loved being pregnant with all the flutters and anticipation. Sigh. I miss their toddler selves.

  2. So, I’m now sitting here in tears. Your words are very moving. And I felt the same way as you. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t find out what I was having. I knew that if I found out ahead of time it was a boy, I might be a little disappointed. I knew that on the day of the birth, it wouldn’t matter. So, I waited.

    Now, I cannot even imagine my life without my little Matthew. My husband and I talk about how we feel about being parents. He is still scared about parenting, but I am not. Raising a child doesn’t frighten me. I fear more for what lies ahead of him. I think of the heartbreaks, the job searching, the pain that he might feel. I worry that he won’t be successful or he’ll end up homeless on the streets. These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night. I don’t want him to grow up or feel that pain that we all have felt. What gives me comfort is that I will be there for him for as much of it as I can!

    Thanks for writing this. I’m right there with ya!

    • Lynne, thanks for reading. We didn’t find out with Noah and did with AJ. What lies ahead when they are away from us is very scary. I write about that fact a lot. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  3. I’m refreshed to read honest comments about a mother’s desire for a certain gender. I always believed that I was meant to be a mom of boys. At least 2, but maybe 3 or 4. All boys. I did not want a daughter who would suffer through the horror of mean girls torturing her every day in middle school. Or a daughter who would spend years studying math and science only to end up in a job where she quickly realizes that the “old boys” networks and glass ceilings will keep her cleaning beakers instead of developing new technologies. Somehow the pain that a daughter might suffer seemed so much more difficult for me handle than those of a son.

    I did not know Elizabeth was a girl until she was born. When she was half out she looked identical to Jack as a newborn. I was beyond shocked when the second half of her arrived and she was in fact, a she. As would be expected, I’m now completely in love with my little family and have a difficult time imaging what my life would be like with 2 boys instead of my 1 boy and 1 girl.

    • Thanks for your honest comment, Autumn. It’s equally refreshing to read about mothers who want boys and have girls! Thank you!

  4. Touching reflection on motherhood and anticipated motherhood. Thanks for sharing these thoughts – I am sure your boys will cherish this.

    • Julie, thank you for reading and for your comment! I hope my boys don’t hate me for thinking they were girls ;)!

  5. Awake with insomnia of sorts and in tears reading this. Perhaps you have been blessed with boys who do adore you and only you, to feel such unconditional genuine genuine love that no other man could provide. My clark and will have just begun to distinguish between “boy” and “girl.” Sometimes they call each other or themselves girl but me, I’m always mom.

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