I wish I had a daughter, not a son.

Sometimes, I feel acute pangs of loss when someone announces they’re having a girl.

Dear Is This Normal,

I have a gorgeous two-year-old boy, and I wouldn’t change one thing about him. He’s funny, super smart, gentle, kind. But I always pictured myself having daughters.

I recently lost my mom and my relationship with her was everything to me. Sometimes, I feel acute pangs of loss when someone announces they’re having a girl. It makes me feel terribly ungrateful and horribly confused. I don’t even know why I want a daughter—people are so variable, there’s no guarantee she’ll be the person I hope she will. Still, I can’t seem to let it go. Sometimes I think about the little girl I could have in the future, and it distracts me from the present moment with my son. Is this normal?


Missing the Daughter I Don’t Have

Dear Missing,

You know what? Thank you. Thank you for writing in with this question/concern, because I promise you, you are FAR from alone. The feelings you’ve described are so totally normal, and I wish more people would be as open about it as you’ve been here. It’s OK to feel disappointed or sad that your first child was a boy—it doesn’t mean you love him any less or would love your future daughter more. It just means that you were hoping for one thing, got another, and you’re disappointed. Your emotions are valid, and you have nothing to feel bad or ashamed about. We should all be this open and honest about our parenting expectations and disappointments, tbh.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, mama. You are not terribly ungrateful. I’m sure you are having a blast with your little boy (I hear 2-4 years old is prime boy age). You love him and are dedicated to raising him to be the best version of himself that he can be! Honestly, can we ask for anything more from parents? I can totally see how the feelings you have would be confusing, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting a girl. Or wanting a boy! Yes, yes, we’re supposed to love them no matter what, and we do. But hello!, We can have a preference. We’re allowed to have hopes and dreams about our future kids. Wanting one doesn’t mean you DON’T want the other, you know?

I do want to touch on your relationship with your mom. I am so sorry she’s gone, I know how incredibly hard it is to lose a parent. My dad died when I was pregnant with my oldest. We actually found out she was a girl the day he died. And you know what? A not-so-little part of me was sad she wasn’t a boy. Because I had just lost my dad and it felt like this was my chance to keep him going. I thought, somehow, that I personally failed when I found out I was having a baby girl.

The grief we feel around parent loss is weird and manifests in so many surprising ways. It sounds like maybe you’re grieving not only the loss of your mom, but the loss of that mother-daughter bond you shared with her. It’s a huge loss, I know. What I want you to do is focus less on the mother-daughter aspect of your bond, and more on what bonded the two of you together. Because it wasn’t the fact that you’re both women. Mothers and daughters don’t automatically have the best relationships by virtue of their gender.

Parent-child relationships, like any relationship, are born of love and commonality and respect, especially as we get older. And there is no reason, none at all, you can’t have that same kind of relationship with your son. Take the most amazing parts of your relationship with your mom, and begin to foster those in your relationship with your son. Was she your sounding board? Then you’ll be his. Was she your guiding light? It sounds like you’re already doing that for your boy. The one you went to for advice? Listen, NO ONE gives better advice to a son than his mama. No one. You can be all of that, and he will be the joy and purpose that you were to your own mother. I promise.

Let yourself feel those feelings about the daughter you don’t have (yet). No shame, no guilt. Your emotions are valid, and you are 100% entitled to work through them as best you can. When you’re ready to grow your family, and if that addition happens to be a girl, don’t stress about how your feelings for your son will change (they won’t). Just be thrilled that your little boy is going to have a little sister, and know that (because of his relationship with you) he will be the best big brother ever.

Just Love Them No Matter What,

Is This Normal


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