Lady Of The Manor: Longing For A Daughter

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I always knew I was going to have a daughter. Other siblings may follow but that first one, the leader of the pack, was definitely going to be a girl. It was my destiny. No question about it.

And then I went to see a psychic. Just for fun. She was wonderful, telling me I’d be famous, that I’d  marry a tall, dark-haired man and live abroad by the sea. Yes, yes and yes! She also said I’d have my first-born baby when I turned 35, a boy with whom I’d be extremely close.

A what?! And when?? Thirty-five was way too old.

Cut to: me, several years later. I was neither famous nor a sea-living expat. I did, however, marry the tall, dark-haired man and, sure enough, found myself knocked up at the ripe old age of 35. The psychic was batting .500. But I didn’t think for a split-second that the “boy” part of the prophecy would come true. A son? No chance. Not for me.

I was a girly-girl, a momma’s girl, a not-defined-by-boys girl. I was the favourite of mothers and sisters across the boyfriend spectrum. The best camp counselor, the fun cousin, the woman who’d be even closer with her daughter than she’d been with her own mother (and that’s tight). I was the girl who grew up with my mother and both grandmothers constantly reminding me that “men are limited” and that “every woman must have a daughter” (even the grandmother who only had sons…actually, especially her). No doubt about it. I was born to be a mother… of a daughter.

Throughout my pregnancy people could “tell” I was having a boy just by looking at me. I was glowing, with a belly that was all ball, no melon. But what did they know? I had mother’s intuition on my side and it was going to be ladies night, every night. I scoped out the cutest linens, the sweetest dresses. Nothing too frilly, of course – my daughter would be dressed in black as well as pink. My husband, one of five children whose generation had yet to produce a boy/girl combo, warned me not to get too caught up in the whole gender game. After all, nothing was more important than a healthy baby – especially since I was considered an “old” mother. I agreed, of course, but a healthy girl baby was what I was having. If the girl didn’t come first time out, she’d never come. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of a boy.

We didn’t find out what we were having, opting instead for the completely unscientific yet far more intriguing route of playing Guess the Sex. Ring on the string, Chinese astrology charts and birth date math? All roads led to girls. Sure, I had no morning sickness, was carrying low and craved meat, but old wives’ tales had nothing on  Internet quizzes and my own conviction.

My due date came. And went. Isn’t that just like my daughter? She had to make her entrance. A week later I was induced. I paced the hospital hallways, torn between girl names. Soon, my water broke, and three hours of pushing and several burst blood vessels later, our child was finally born. My husband, beaming, held our baby to me and announced, “It’s a boy!” And I burst into tears.

I was devastated.

Moments later, our parents gathered around to meet their new grandson. He was pronounced “perfect,” “healthy,” “gorgeous,” All I could hear was “boy,” “boy,” “boy.” I looked up at my mother, who smiled knowingly. Did I imagine it, or did a tinge of sadness taint her smile?

Despite my profound disappointment with my new baby’s gender, I did feel fiercely protective of my son. Mama bears had nothing on me. As we got to know each other, I thought maybe it wasn’t so bad, having a new little man around the house. Yet I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that someone, God or Mother Nature or Fate, had played a cruel joke on me. Mothers of daughters claimed that “boys were easier.” Others insisted that boys love their mothers more than anything. Oedipus aside, I wasn’t sure I bought any of it. Staring longingly at the divine tiny girlie outfits, I glanced at my sleeping son and reasoned with myself: sure, girl clothing is cute, but boys? Well, they’re just cute. Or at least mine was.

And then one morning I woke up and crept into my son’s room. He opened his eyes, stared deep into mine, and my world stopped. I found myself suddenly, indescribably, utterly in love. If this is what being the mother of a son was all about, then, Universe: bring on the boys.

And it did.

Now there are days where I butt heads with my oldest boy and I wonder if he intuitively knows how I felt in those first few weeks of his life. Crazy, I know. Fact is, he’s the kid who taught me there are no babies like boy babies. And his two younger brothers confirmed it.


Carolyn Drebin lives in Toronto with her three sons, two male pets and one husband. She can be found ranting and raving on her website: