Are Mums of Girls Missing Out?
I was sitting in a coffee shop last week with my daughters beside me. Resplendent in their flowery dresses and shiny pig-tailed hair they sat quietly with pens and paper; one was drawing and the other was colouring in. Occasionally they looked up at me as I read my book and they smiled angelically, or hugged me, or passed me a picture of a heart they had drawn. Yes, this actually happened… this is what life with my girls can look like sometimes.
A woman beside me came over, her tired eyes catching mine, and she sighed. ‘You’re so lucky to have girls,’ she said, ‘I wish I did’. She then went off to extricate her two sons from beneath the table where they were shouting about poo and sword fighting with bread sticks.
So along with feeling incredibly smug about my kids, I also got to thinking.
Am I missing out by having a boy-less life?
Is there really a difference between raising girls and boys?
My problem is that I have no clue what it’s like to be around little boys. As my mother likes to say, ‘we don’t do boys’. By that she is pointing out that she is one of three sisters, and gave birth to two daughters who in turn went on to have three daughters between them (it’s all very Biblical with the begetting). Even my father only has a sister. On my side of the family there are very few boy genes… we just don’t do boys. I’ve never even changed the nappy of a boy, I seriously wouldn’t know what to do with the extra bit to clean!
So other than the nappy changing part, is there any real difference between the experience of being a parent to a girl as opposed to a boy?
Well, before we start on our journey of wonder and discovery, let me share my unease about this conundrum. I’m not comfortable with stereotypes, I don’t agree with sexism or segregation of any kind and I seriously think that being the parent of any child – girl or boy or anything in between – is equally hard work. In fact a tantruming a-hole is an irritating a-hole no matter what their gender… but are they a-holes in different ways?
So I did what I always do when I need to know the answer to a question – I asked my friends. I really wanted to know if in fact it’s true that boys are more… well… boisterous and girls are more whiny but at least sit still once in a while.
And was I shocked and surprised by the answers?
I asked eight mothers of both sons and daughters, the mums were from different countries with different backgrounds (get me, being all scientific) and they all said the same thing. As much as society and parents attempt to treat their sons and daughters the same, girls and boys are different. You just can’t avoid the Pink!
In a nutshell they told me the following:
- Girls are high maintenance and more demanding… Boys are happy with a few dinky cars, a packet of jelly beans and an old tracksuit passed down from their cousin!
- Boys are more cuddly and need more kisses and affection.
- Boys are like dogs; you have to run them twice a day otherwise the energy builds up and they get defiant.
- Boys have the attention span of a fruit fly. Whereas girls are apparently quite happy to sit and paint, draw, thread beads etc, boys are more active.
- Boys eat. Girls pick at their food more.
- Boys just get on with it, girls are much more dramatic.
- Boys make a noise, they make a mess and they don’t keep still.
So fancy that, it seems that boys are more physical and destructive and simple to work out (a bit like men I guess, funny that) and girls are more demanding and picky but at least they play quietly. Sorry I wasted your time thinking this was going to be a sociologically groundbreaking article.
Even Miss Pollyanna, a mother to two girls and a boy, joined in with the debate. She told me:
“Oh yes, in this house there really is a big difference between my son and my daughter.
1) He loves to talk about poo and wee and boobs and willies and bogies and farts.
2) Never has the saying ‘you need eyes in the back of your head’ been more spot on. Turn your back for a millisecond and he’s become Spiderman clinging to the highest shelf in the house. As a parent you WILL have more trips to A&E with a boy, it is practically a given. Very stereotypical but true – in our family, anyway.
I feel blessed to have my little boy though. On a personal note, my 2nd daughter died at birth and whilst when I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I would genuinely have been happy with either sex, as long as they were healthy, I was so so glad to have a boy. It felt like such a gift. He is such an adorable little character. People often say how lucky I am to have one of each (at which point I have to painstakingly remind them that actually I have two girls and a boy), but whilst perhaps my daughter and son don’t always see eye to eye, and fight like cat and dog, they complement each other perfectly. It’s wonderful to experience life as a mum to both sexes, it’s definitely an eye-opener but it’s wonderful.”
I guess having both girls and boys does give you a more rounded experience as a mother, but in all honesty all these ‘facts’ simply makes me feel guilty as (shh) I’m secretly glad I have my girls and no boys. I’m more than happy with my lot. You see I don’t like rough and tumble and stomping through nature and getting dirty all that much, and I lack the empathy and nurturing skills to deal with injured kids and constant cuddles; I love reading and drawing and making things quietly and basically being left alone.
I’ve never really had that yearning aching hole in my heart desperate for a little bundle of blue to fill my life up with football, video games, Lego and every other sexist toy I can think of. Yes, I know all boys don’t have to be rough and loud, but I know any son of mine would have been because of his father, who is as blokey as the come.
I know deep down my husband would have really liked to have a son; my man is sporty and all Alpha and is desperate for any excuse to buy a Scalextric (I’m so not used to boy stuff I had to look up the spelling for that). There really are only so many princess fairy books my poor hubby can read of an evening, or ‘I don’t know which sparkly dress to wear’ tizzy fits he can patiently endure, before he goes and joins a rugby team or something.
I asked him once, when our youngest daughter was a toddler, if he wanted us to try for a third child. A possible son. I was prepared to go all Anne Boleyn for him and produce him an heir. ‘Are you fucking kidding me?!’ he cried. ‘And risk having FOUR women under my roof. No way, it’s not worth the gamble, if that happened I’d have to turn the garage into a pub.’
So that’s that then, me and my girls will stick to our pink frilly life of sitting quietly and Daddy can thank his lucky stars he’s only outnumbered by three of us. Plus that way he gets to be the only boy in my boy-less life… which I think he secretly loves anyway!