How to get over never having a daughter?

I’m a boy mom. With three sons, my days are filled with Xbox, Minecraft, bugs, and fart jokes. I have wiped blood from walls because innocuous arguments have turned into WWE battles. I have secretly removed treasured leaves and germ-carrying bird feathers from dresser drawers when my boys are at school. There is constantly urine on my toilets, bathroom floors, and probably the walls, too. We should really buy stock in Clorox wipes. Albeit slightly gross, I love every part of this life.

I never knew the sex of my babies before birth. A friend once told me that not knowing is one of the only good surprises in life. I loved that surprise, but strangers didn’t seem to. People felt entitled to know who was growing in my uterus, and once they saw one or two of my little boys smiling away in their stroller, they were certain that my newest addition just had to be a girl.

Having a daughter doesn’t make my motherhood experience better, it makes it different. I am thrilled she is here, but I wouldn’t trade my sons for a hundred girls. ADVERTISEMENT

“Oh, I bet you hope it’s a girl,” they’d say. “Girls are so much fun to dress.” “Everyone needs a little girl.” The more comments I heard, the more obsessed I became with having a girl. The world had convinced me that I was somehow less of a mother because I had sons. That I was missing out on something special because I didn’t have a daughter. By the time I was pregnant with my third baby, every thought I had was about having a girl. I was consumed.

That third delivery room surprise was a big one. I had to have an emergency c-section and awoke to a 10 lb 5 oz bundle of love. He was pink and perfect and he completed our family. But, he wasn’t a girl. I felt a pang in my stomach as I announced on social media that I had another boy. So many people had offered exciting hopes that he was a she that I actually felt like I was letting them down. How disgusting is that?

And don’t get me wrong, I was obsessed with my new baby boy. I adored him. I couldn’t wait to introduce him to his brothers and to watch my three sons grow up together. I wore my boy mom title as a badge of honor. I proudly showed off my boys to anyone who wanted to see them. My heart was full.

Three years later, I got the shock of my life the day I saw a fourth set of two pink lines. “Oh my God,” I thought. “Here we go again.” Not breaking tradition, we decided to keep the sex a secret, and the world hated it. This time it was, “You just couldn’t quit until you got that girl, right?” “You were trying for a girl, huh?” Or my favorite, “Aren’t you going to be disappointed if it’s a boy?” No, idiot, I’ll be disappointed if it’s a lizard, not another son.

My experience carrying my fourth was totally different. Sure, I thought it would be great to have a girl, but I was perfectly happy with another boy. This baby was a bonus blessing, and no matter who we met in the delivery room, we were going to be happy.

Eight years after delivering my first son, I was in the operating room ready to meet my latest miracle. My husband held my hand and the doctor announced, “Oh my God! It’s a girl.” That moment was one of joy and astonishment and every wonderful adjective that you can come up with. But, that moment was no more exhilarating than when her three brothers were born. I counted her fingers and toes and stared into her eyes and wept with pure joy just as I had with my three boys. The feelings were all the same. She was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen, but I did not love her any more than her brothers. My heart just grew a little bigger that day.

That baby girl is now almost two and having her in our lives has absolutely changed things. There is a lot more pink and an obnoxious amount of bows and baby dolls everywhere. She has her ears pierced, her toes painted, and carries a purse. I apologize for none of that. And, I love it! Her touch of femininity nicely compliments the Batman figures, Star Wars posters, and dirty rocks strewn all over the house.

Having a daughter doesn’t make my motherhood experience better, it makes it different. I am thrilled she is here, but I wouldn’t trade my sons for a hundred girls. Boys get a bad rap. Their clothes aren’t dirty, they’re just covered with remnants of their epic adventures. Boys aren’t loud and crazy, they simply like to live their lives with gusto. And as far as the bathroom is concerned, boys just suck at aiming. But hey, as long as I have three giant hugs and kisses goodnight, I’ll keep buying my Clorox wipes at Costco with a blissful smile on my face.

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Not Having a Daughter When You Thought That You Would

There was a time when I thought I would have a houseful of little women. Four girls. I even picked out names for them. As I grew up I thought that having two of each would be great.

Then I started having my own children and thought that having a boy first would be great. The whole older brother thing. When I had my second son I was really excited because two older brothers would be even better. I wanted three kids, had two boys and knew I would always have a daughter, right?

Before I got pregnant with my 3rd son I was helping my mom clean her garage and we came across a lot of my old dresses. I wanted to take them home with me to save for later. Although they are very 1980s style dresses, I would have loved to put them on a daughter, just for pictures if nothing else.

I just knew in my heart that someday my own daughter would get to wear them.

Then we got pregnant with #3. We tried a little bit for a girl. Did you know you can do that? The science kinda makes sense. Basically, what you are doing is making the chances higher of having a particular gender. It isn’t full proof of course.

When I got pregnant, knew I could have another boy and I knew I would love him very very much but I also knew how badly I wanted a daughter. I have such a great relationship with my own mom that I couldn’t image a world without that, not then. I couldn’t imagine a world without being a mom to a little girl.

I couldn’t imagine doing all the things I had always thought I would do with one. Of shopping on the other side of the store. Of buying dresses and girl scouts and Barbies, oh how I couldn’t wait to buy Barbies!

We went in for our ultrasound and I still felt so strongly that they would tell us the baby was a girl. Until they didn’t…until the tech said “boy.” What? But this is my girl! What is going on?

I knew that I was going to have to mourn the loss of never having a daughter. This was our last baby and he was a boy. That was all there was to it. Don’t get me wrong, I was not mourning having a son, I was mourning the fact that I would never be the mom to a little girl, something I always thought I would do.

Because when you think your life is going to look a certain way, and it looks different, you have to take some time to deal with that emotionally. And that’s ok.

Fast forward 7 years and I LOVE having three boys. I can’t imagine life any other way. I am not sad about not having a daughter. I am happy that I have THREE sons. I love being the only girl in this house, besides our dog of course.

When a friend finds out they are having a third of the same gender, I get so excited for them. And other moms who are having their third boy? Welcome to the club ladies 🙂

I am not sure why I felt so strongly that I would have a daughter, but it just goes to show that life never really ends up the way you think it might. I never could have imagined being the mom with all the boys, but here I am and I can’t imagine life any other way.

Are you a family of all boys too???

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Gender Disappointment: The Girl We’ll Never Have

I always knew I would love being a mother. I imagined a house full of energetic kids, laughing and playing. I dreamt of a baby girl. If someone would have told me they would all be boys, I would have laughed. Not if I wanted to keep my sanity! But here I am today, blessed with the pregnancy of our third baby boy. The sadness I feel over the baby girl we’ll never have is overwhelming. At times I wonder if I’ll ever be able to accept it.

Photo credit: Ashley Mae Scott Photography

I didn’t feel disappointment with my first baby boy. We were both young and wanted more children. We eagerly awaited the arrival of our little one. Finding out my second was a boy left me with a somber feeling. The months were hard as I tried to process the thought of another little boy. Hearing, “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” was devastating. I had assumed it would be a girl. I found myself sobbing in the ultrasound room.

We decided to try for our third baby after a great deal of reflection, in hopes of a girl. From the moment I found out I was expecting, I refused to let myself go through the grief I had before. I refrained from talking gender. I quickly pushed all thoughts of a baby girl from my mind. I had completely prepared myself for the possibility of a boy. I convinced myself I would be at ease with it, or so I thought. Everything was great up until one week before my ultrasound. All thoughts went to a little baby girl. In one week I had designed her room in my head, dreamed of frilly dresses, headbands, dance classes and girl days — the thoughts were unavoidable, they kept creeping back in.

We had waited patiently those 19 long weeks, silently wishing for a baby girl. It couldn’t possibly be another boy, could it? Not even five minutes into the ultrasound the tech said, “It’a boy!”

I laughed. Of course it was a boy! No tears came this time — I had prepared myself well. My husband squeezed my hand; I felt okay. He on the other hand looked like he might cry. Here we had another healthy, active baby growing inside me, yet we felt as though we were mourning the girl we never had. A girl we would never have.

I can’t count how many times I heard, “You can always try again!” Those were the hardest words to hear. We wouldn’t get another shot — this was it. The risk of a third c-section was already high and a fourth was not an option.

Photo credit: Ashley Mae Scott Photography

The illusion of happiness faded as sadness slowly crept over me. I couldn’t hide it from myself any longer. I knew in my heart this was the way it was meant to be, but the pain was too much to endure alone. I was left feeling many emotions, the strongest of which was guilt. Guilty for wishing for a girl. Guilty for even thinking of this while I had been blessed with another healthy baby. Guilty for not being overjoyed. I felt alone. I didn’t want anyone to know how hurt I really was, for fear they wouldn’t understand. I believed they would confuse my sadness for a baby girl with regret for another boy. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I loved this baby unconditionally. Regardless of gender.

With a heavy heart I knew I had to let it out. Keeping these feelings to myself was too much to bear. That moment I decided to share my feelings, I felt a huge relief. I received overwhelming support and advice from everyone around me — exactly what I needed at that moment.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be fulfilled with not having a girl but I do know that I’m not alone. Plus, I know my house will always be filled with love and laughter.

I Had Me a Girl


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The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars is a duo composed of singer-songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White. The two met during a Nashville, Tennessee songwriting session in 2008. After releasing a live performance album and a four song EP, their full length album, Barton Hollow, was released in 2011. The band won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album in 2012. On November 6, 2012, the group announced that it was “unable to continue as a touring entity” because of “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition”. more “

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I had me a girl Who taught me those things A young man should know Down, down on my knees I’d beg and I’d plead To learn a little bit more Oh that woman taught me to pray I saw Heaven every day Lord, she could Oooooooo Ooooooohhhhohhhh Ooooooo Ooooohhhhhhhhhh I, I had me a boy Who buttoned me down Threw me a line He, he washed me as clean As a sinner could be Showed me the light Ooo that boy, he taught me to pray But for all of his spit-shinin’ ways Lord, he could Oooooooo Ooooooohhhhohhhh Ooooooo Ooooohhhhhhhhhh I had me a girl Like cigarette smoke She came and she went I slipped through his hands To my back door man Under his chin Oh that woman taught me to pray But for all her wandering ways She could Oooooooo Ooooooohhhhohhhh Ooooooo Ooooohhhhhhhhhh

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Written by: JOY WILLIAMS

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Sons of Anarchy

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Something happens at around 92 miles an hour – thunder-headers drown out all sound, engine vibrations travels at a heart’s rate, field of vision funnels into the immediate and suddenly you’re not on the road, you’re in it. A part of it. Traffic, scenery, cops – just cardboard cutouts blowing over as you past. Sometimes I forget the rush of that. That’s why I love these long runs. All your problems, all the noise, gone. Nothing else to worry about except what’s right in front of you. Maybe that’s the lesson for me today, to hold on to these simple moments. Appreciate them a little more – there’s not many of them left. I don’t ever want that for you. Finding things that make you happy shouldn’t be so hard. I know you’ll face pain, suffering, hard choices, but you can’t let the weight of it choke the joy out of your life. No matter what, you have to find the things that love you. Run to them. There’s an old saying, ‘That what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ I don’t believe that. I think the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things – your family, your friends, the satisfaction of hard work. Those are the things that’ll keep you whole. Those are the things to hold on to when you’re broken.


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(to Stahl) You just signed my death warrant.


  • Permalink: You just signed my death warrant.
  • Added: December 01, 2010

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Maybe you’ve seen it before, or perhaps you’ve given out the look yourself — a look of trepidation and disbelief when you see a mom of all boys — like when you see me with all three of my boys, ages 7, 3, and 1. While moms of same-sex children tend to unite, there is also something about just being the mom of three boys that makes us understand one another.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned about what it’s like being the mom of three boys is something that was often said to me by a former colleague. As a fellow mom of three boys, she would say how interesting it is because we come to understand how the differences between our children are not based on gender as much as personality.

But I will tell you what all three of my boys do have in common — they sure like to move and holler. A lot. And I think that just may be where the trepidation from strangers comes from. You think?

You see the hallways of my home become racetracks; in fact, so do the ledges of the tub or the placemats on the kitchen table. Come to think of it, everything and anything becomes a racetrack. And while racing in the basement or in the backyard is my preference, they don’t care.

Also, my boys tend to like to horseplay, or play fight, or wrestle, or beat each other up — whatever you like to call it. And as a mom of three boys, you need to learn the subtle difference between play “fighting” and real fighting. That’s about the time they start hitting one another in the head. And with that horseplay comes shrieking, yelling, screaming, cheering, and jeering — and a lot of popped Advils on my part.

Learning how to remain calm among the chaos is my lifelong lesson. These are the sounds of my home, and I suppose what is envisioned by those fearful of my life, like the mom of two boys who is expecting a third child. We were casually talking about how my sister and I both have three boys. I then piped up about how she may also have three boys, and she actually said, “Don’t curse me like that!” and went on to name moms who had a girl after two sons.

But let me tell you about what those moms don’t see.

They don’t see all of my boys literally falling off to sleep one by one, exhausted from the day, unable to open an eyelid or utter one more “vroom.” But somehow they have energy enough to say “I love you.”

They don’t see the hugs, goodnights, and cuddles of a loving boy at the end of an eventful day. They don’t see brothers hugging, playing hide-and-seek, or cheering one another on for small accomplishments or major milestones.

They don’t see the bond between brothers who simply need to look one another in the eye to know that the race is on.

They don’t see how I look upon that outfit passed on from one boy to the next and how I get to see who wore it best.

They don’t see how I have shelves upon shelves of T-shirts and sweaters, but no pants to hand down after all the banged-up knees. Or how very rarely do sneakers make it off their feet for another race around the track.

They don’t get to see the toys that have been shared and re-shared: Hot Wheels, Thomas the Train, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Lego Ninjago, Disney Cars, Transformers, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Beyblades, and Captain Underpants, or the sports and activities learned and relearned such as baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, and karate. And don’t forget bicycles, skateboards, and scooters.

There is something priceless about having a sibling who tends to share in activities — whether a boy or a girl, of course. But in my world, seeing how my 7-year-old son teaches his younger brothers something he has mastered is something special about having children of the same gender. You see, witnessing Lightning McQueen passed on from hand to hand has become how I measure time.

I’ve also learned that my boys tend to love all things fast. They do love all things outside. They do love all things trucks. They do love all things big. And while I have let them play with all things, including dolls and dress-up costumes, these are the things my boys have gravitated toward. So the fact that some of their first words were “ball” and “truck” is no coincidence. Of course, words like “book” were in there too. And I still get to see how although their personalities are different, which challenges gender roles, I also have witnessed how they generally share interests in the same toys and activities.

And while society likes to challenge my observations about my sons, those same individuals have no problems making comments about how my home is bereft of baby dolls, dresses, hairbands, and tap shoes. Once in a while, I get a comment about how sad it must be to not have a daughter to dress up in a pink, glittery dress or fancy shoes, or how disappointed I must feel not to drive my daughter to dance.

But, you see, that just isn’t my life. And it’s not even the life every mother of a girl has. How do you miss something you know nothing of? How do you miss something that caused you anxiety and discomfort when you were growing up as a daughter and a sister who didn’t fit the “girly-girl” stereotype. I can picture it now, being stuck at temple, shoved into some new dress and shoes that somehow defined me. How do you miss something you never did as a child yourself, such as dance, because you were more of an actress, a bike-rider, a swimmer, a camper, an adventurer, and a daydreamer?

I’m here to let you know I am okay with all of this. In fact, I am more than just okay — I am great. Isn’t that enough? The next time you see one of us at the park, just say hello, and I hope you can be happy for me.

Just over a year ago I found myself unexpectedly pregnant with my third child. I was in deep shock. This wasn’t simply due to the fact that my (supposedly) reliable contraceptive had failed, and that we were heading towards some very sleep-deprived years with three kids under four. I was also shocked because I was facing the possibility that I might soon become mother to three boys.

When my first son was born, happy and healthy on a spring morning, I was overjoyed. When I got pregnant again, two years later, I can honestly say that I didn’t think about whether the baby was a boy or a girl. As with my first pregnancy, we chose not to find out the gender at the 20-week scan. My husband thought the baby would be a girl, and it seemed that everyone presumed that would be the case. It wasn’t – we had a second boy. He was beautiful and perfect, yet almost immediately I began to notice things. “Oh! How … lovely,” said a relative when we phoned from hospital, her voice leaden with disappointment. I sensed that people somehow didn’t seem quite so excited for us, though I tried to put it down to this being our second child. “Funny,” a good friend said, a few months after the birth, “I always pictured you with little girls.” Another was rather more frank. “Were you not incredibly disappointed,” she asked, “that you didn’t have a daughter this time?”

The truth is, in the months that followed, I became increasingly anxious about having another boy. We had two wonderful boys whom I loved with an indescribable passion, but I fretted about the future. Would I always feel outnumbered? What the hell did I know about raising boys? My father died when I was young, and I had gone to an all-girls school. I have extremely close female friends. My relationship with my mother is complicated, and I found myself thinking about how I wanted to be different as a parent; aspects of this seemed particularly relevant to raising a daughter, rather than a son.

In all this, I became highly attuned (some might say hypersensitive) to people’s attitudes. “Two boys! You’ll have your hands full,” elderly women on the street would exclaim. “Boys will be boys …” I’d overhear parents musing, as their sons ran riot with sticks in the playground.

“It’s called a gentleman’s family,” an acquaintance helpfully pointed out, when she learned she was expecting a girl after her first child, a boy. “Fuck you,” I thought, incredulous that she should suggest her offspring were somehow better than mine. But when you start to look, you begin to see it everywhere, this view of the “ideal” family.

Despite strict guidelines from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority regarding the engineering of families, it seems the reality can be a murky business. I was stunned when I visited a Harley Street gynaecologist early on in my pregnancy. Unprompted, he suggested that if this was a third boy, he could and would support my undergoing IVF with preimplantation genetic diagnosis in a clinic abroad in order to secure a fourth – female – child. I got the impression that he did this all the time, despite the fact the procedure itself is illegal within the UK. Why else would he suggest that a healthy young woman who had conceived three children naturally and easily (rather too easily in my case) put her body through the emotional and physical rollercoaster of IVF simply to have a more “balanced” family?

My husband and I always hoped to have three children, and I told myself that when the time came to have a third child, gender wouldn’t matter to me. However, before we were remotely ready, I got pregnant again. “Are you going to find out what you’re having?” people asked, arching their eyebrows. When I said no, they would reply nervously, “As long as they’re healthy.”

Some were more brazen. “Three boys,” said one friend, “I can’t think of anything worse.” It was a stupid, flippant thing to say. I could think of worse things. I have friends who have suffered the agonies of infertility, or had to cope with seriously ill children. A close relative of ours has a severe disability. This was part of the problem: I felt like a spoilt idiot, utterly ashamed that this was an issue. I was unable to discuss this openly with those close to me. I still feel ashamed, to the extent that I am writing this piece under a pseudonym. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t want my kids to read this article in the future.

In November last year, our daughter was born. She is as lovely and amazing as her big brothers. I was – I am – over the moon. It’s not about buying pretty dresses and hoping that she will enjoy some of the things I did as a girl, though this is undeniably novel and fun. It’s about a sense that our family is complete.

Of course, an element of this is due to my personal feelings, but another part of it is due to our society’s view – just look at the press reaction when Victoria Beckham announced that she was expecting a girl after three boys. Problematic attitudes surrounding the gender makeup of families do not simply concern the preference for male children in parts of Asia, for example. The thought of sex selection abortion is abhorrent, but perhaps we need to think more carefully about general perceptions of what constitutes the “perfect family”, and be more sensitive to those who may not fit that ideal.

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We are so happy that Jenna Bush Hager is a mom of three now, but just so she knows what she’s in for with her new baby: When it comes to kids, three is the magic number…for stress.

Jenna welcomed baby Henry, a little brother for her daughters Mila and Poppy, meaning that she’s joining a special, and especially tired, club.

According to a TODAY Parents survey of more than 7,000 U.S. mothers in 2013, mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels. Once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier.

So parents like Hager, Prince William and Duchess Kate, and Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West, may want to consider having a few more kids — or at the very least learning some stress-reducing breathing techniques.

What will the new royal baby’s name be?

April 23, 201812:20

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most stressed, the average mom in our survey put herself at an 8.5.

What’s stressing moms out? Plenty, from money worries to balancing the demands of work and home to feeling like husbands are sometimes just another big kid demanding attention.

But the big secret of mom stress is that a lot of it comes from within: 75 percent of mothers said they stress more about the pressure they put on themselves to be perfect than they do the pressure or judgment they get from other moms.

“You always hear about the mommy wars, but I feel like we’re judging ourselves more harshly than anyone else,” said Jill Smokler, “Scary Mommy” creator and author of “Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies).” Smokler has three kids, and totally agrees that it’s the most stressful number.

“Going from one to two was an easy, breezy transition,” said Smokler, who lives in Maryland. “Two to three, everything was turned upside down. I did not feel like I had it together…just crossing the street and not being able to physically hold all their hands I found tremendously stressful.”

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

More stress nuggets from the online survey of 7,164 U.S. mothers, conducted by and Insight Express:

  • 46 percent of moms say their husbands/partners cause them more stress than their kids do.
  • 72 percent of moms stress about how stressed they are.
  • Biggest cause of stress: 60 percent say it’s lack of time to do everything that needs to get done.
  • 60 percent of moms say raising girls is more stressful than raising boys.
  • Nine out of 10 moms stress about staying fit and attractive.

Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist in New York, says mom stress is a problem she sees daily in her practice.

“Moms are acutely aware of the fact they do not have the time to take care of their own needs,” Taylor said. “Forget reading a book, exercising or fun hobbies: Some moms barely have time to shower.”

“Before you’re a mom, you take that for granted,” added Taylor. “When you are a mom you just don’t have the time.”

She laughed when she heard that having four or more kids was less stressful than three: She’s a mother of four, including a set of twins — and agrees with the survey findings.

“There’s just not enough space in your head for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids,” she said.

For example, Taylor recalls with her fourth child she didn’t bother with things like obsessively covering all the outlets with safety plugs. “It just gets to be survival!” she joked.

Plus, she thinks moms hit a groove once they get past the outnumbered phase of having three kids and into the seriously outnumbered territory of four or more.

“The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting abilities,” she said. “You have to let go… and then you’re just thankful when they all get to school on time.”

Taylor’s children are now adults and says while the stress differs from the hands-on parenting years, it always remains. “Now I get stressed out by things like my oldest having a job interview and my youngest being in the middle of finals,” she said. “I’m on the other side… hopefully you can feel like you’ve prepared them well.”

Taylor says daily stress levels of 8.5 on a scale of 10 — the average that moms in our survey report — take a toll on mind and body. She recommends her stressed-out patients try this exercise: Take five minutes and draw a pie chart showing how you actually spend the hours in your day. Then flip the paper over and draw a pie chart of what you’d like to be doing. Pick one of the things that’s on chart two (what you want), but not chart one (the reality), and figure out a way to make it happen.

“You have to be able to say no to your kids, to your spouse, to your friends sometimes,” Taylor said, explaining that many women find that part really hard. “Instead of making the perfect lunch for your kids, go for a walk by yourself. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, take some deep breaths and focus on what you need.”

Connecticut mom Karen Hobert Flynn says saying “no” to some kids’ activities was one sanity-saver as a mom of many. Her four boys now range in age from teens to adults, but her rule when her kids were younger was one after-school activity per child.

“You can do Boy Scouts or a sport. We didn’t do five sports. We said ‘no’ to intense travel teams,” she explained. And she said it didn’t limit her boys; they all played competitive team sports at school as teens.

Having four had its advantages, she said. Each child had a built-in playmate; they tended to pair up so no one was left out. And her backyard was always full of kids, even though they had far from the fanciest swingset in the neighborhood.

“We had critical mass. Kids in the neighborhood would want to come here because it was an immediate party,” she said.

For her and her husband, going from one child to two was a big adjustment; transitioning from two to three, “you’re outnumbered,” and adding a fourth child was “not as big a jump.”

She says when her boys were young, she kept stress at bay by staying organized, connecting with other moms, cultivating good babysitters, relying on her husband — and of course, not taking life too seriously.

“We laugh a lot,” Flynn said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

This story was originally published on May 6, 2013.

I find my role as a mum of boys a special one.

There is a magnet you can find at any good souvenir store that reads ‘mothers of sons work from son up till son down.’

As a mother of two boys I find it hilarious.

I find my role as a mum of two boys a very special one.

Despite my absolute hate of gender stereotyping, as a mother of two boys, I can honestly say there are just some things that are innately different between boys and girls.

This being the case it is, at times, a challenge to parent just boys.

Of course there is toilet training – what do you even do with THAT?

But there is so much more.

As a woman you are your son’s first female role.

And as that role model, I try so hard to be present in their lives and offer fulfilling experiences.

And in my almost seven years of being a mother, I’ve found certain activities fulfilling, not just for them but for me also.

Here’s a list of my favourite things to do with my boys.

We love baking


I hate jokes about women’s place being in the kitchen. My partner is a fantastic cook and I love teaching my boys their way around a kitchen. I am so impressed when my kids rattle off the ingredients in cakes and cookies and proudly show people their creations.

2. Reading.

I tried so hard when they were young to read chapter books to my kids. They just weren’t interested. It wasn’t until recently they both finally found a love of reading. They now ask for me to read another chapter of our favourite books before bed. I hope I can instil a love of reading in them for a lifetime.

Why do so many mums want daughters not sons?

There’s something incredibly sad about a foetus being a disappointment to its mother before it has even drawn its first breath, simply because he is a boy. But it happens – and a lot more frequently than you might think.

A recent survey by found that a 39 per cent of mums wanted daughters, while only 18 per cent wanted sons (don’t feel sorry for boys, by the way – the survey found that fathers are still more likely to want sons).

Of the 2,189 mums polled, over a third didn’t tell anyone they had a gender preference, just under half confided in their partner, and only a third admitted their feelings to their own family.

An even more shocking statistic published by Reproductive Biomedicine Online says that a whopping 70 per cent of mothers opting to choose their baby’s sex are opting for girls.

The fact is, the almost obligatory parent-to-be cliché that “we don’t mind what it is as long as it’s healthy’’ is just a big fat lie in many instances.
The phenomenon is so common that the mental health world has given it a label (‘gender disappointment’). There are websites devoted to it, forums filled with it and acronyms named after it (SMOGS are Smug Mothers of Girls). It’s not about mothers being ungrateful – these are loving mothers who are delighted to find out they are pregnant, but who can’t help feeling devastated when they find out they are having a son.

Dr Tara Wyne, clinical psychologist at LightHouse Arabia (, says she can see how mothers might become attached to the idea of having a daughter. She says, “We’re socially wired to expect that parents want sons, because of the whole legacy thing. But when I think about mothers wanting daughters, what occurs to me is that women often feel that daughters are for them.

“They might think, ‘I’ll have more emotional intimacy with a girl and the bonding will be easier. And when she is older we will be able to relate to each other.’ Then if she finds out she is having a boy, there could be a sense of loss of the strong relationship she envisaged having with her daughter.”

Mother-of-two Emma Maynard* says that when she found out she was having a second son, this is exactly how she felt – robbed of a lifelong relationship with a daughter. She says, “When I was growing up, my father and brother weren’t around most of the time, so it was just me and mum… I guess I wanted to recreate that experience.” The first time around, finding out she was having a son wasn’t too upsetting.

“It’ll be nice for her to have an older brother,” she thought, already imagining her second child would be a girl. But the second time around, the news of a boy hit her hard. “I just always assumed I would have a daughter. When I found out I was having another boy, I burst into tears. One day I drove to work, parked my car and sat outside the office crying for two hours before eventually going home. I knew I would love the baby no matter what, but I couldn’t help feeling cheated.”

Read more: ‘Should you find out your baby’s gender before birth?’

The last taboo

This is not a very easy topic for mums to talk about. Most pregnant mothers say they don’t mind what sex it is as long as it’s healthy – and to a certain extent (and for some), this might be true. But for others, they feel pressure to say they don’t mind, when deep down they do – perhaps out of fear of embarrassment if it doesn’t go their way.

Siobhan Freegard, the founder of, says, “Almost every mum and dad say they don’t mind what they are having as long as the child is healthy. But the statistics uncover the real truth – that parents actually have very strong preferences on their baby’s sex. Sex preference is one of the last taboos of parenting, with many mums and dads reluctant to admit how they feel.”

With the high-tech fertility technology now available, it is possible to choose the sex of your child before pregnancy in some countries, including the UAE. Fakih IVF for instance offers ‘Family Balancing’ packages through gender selection, which involves all of the same invasive ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval process required in traditional IVF, which just goes to show the extent that some couples will go to in order to be able to choose the sex of their child.

The taboo nature of gender selection is clear, though, from the fact that the use of gender-selection technologies has been banned in several countries, including Australia, Canada, India, China and the UK, leading to the trend for ‘reproductive tourism’, whereby citizens from these countries travel abroad for their treatment. Additionally, both the UN and the WHO have said they are against gender selection for non-medical purposes (such as to avoid the passing on of a genetic disease), citing the potential for moral and social problems as a result.

But although there may be no medical reason for gender selection, for many mothers the yearning for a girl is a huge issue for them – just look at the deluge of angry, upset, frustration being vented anonymously on parenting websites and forums. On, a website devoted to sex preference, one woman wrote, “I really thought this was my girl. But I told people I was sure it was a boy, because I didn’t want to feel disappointed when I know I should be happy. But this is so hard. I’m angry and frustrated and devastated that I’ll never get a girl. I don’t want to feel this way and I’m really trying to overcome these feelings, but it really hurts a lot. Sorry everyone. Just really needed to get that off my chest and I really don’t like to unload on family as I feel too guilty for feeling like this.”

Read more: ‘The poignant truth about having sons instead of daughters’

A girl for me

So what is it that mothers expect from a daughter that they don’t think they can get from a son? Surely it can’t all be about pretty clothes? Dr Tara says, “On some level, having children is about seeking a type of relationship. Something more bonded, more attached, than other relationships. The mother-daughter relationship is unique in the sense that you have this feeling of passing on your wisdom. How many times do you hear women say they called their mum for parenting advice? And how many times do you hear men say it?”

Dr Tara also points to the fact that, when sons marry and have children of their own, their wives become the main woman and mother in his life, as being part of the story. She says, “With daughters there’s no threat of that happening.”
Another reason for a mother’s preference for daughters could be to heal the pain of having a bad relationship with her own mother, says Dr Tara. “A lot of mums seem to want to replace a strong relationship they think they are missing – to fill a gap in their life. They feel that having a daughter will rectify previous losses; that by having a strong relationship with a daughter, they will get over the fact they never got on with their own mother, or that their mother passed away.”

This is a theory Emma can relate to. She believes losing her mum a few years before having her first child made her desire to have a daughter even stronger. “I want a girl because I feel like I want that mother-daughter relationship,” she says. “I want to pass my mum’s jewellery down to my daughter, not to my daughter-in-law.”

Have a word with yourself

The experts believe that ‘gender disappointment’ is a strong indicator of potential pre- or postnatal depression. Dr Tara advises starting to work on sorting out your feelings long before the birth – not just to reduce the risk of postnatal depression, but also because feeling negative during pregnancy can have a serious effect on your baby’s personality, she says: “Have a talk with yourself. Give yourself a shake. You could be creating relationship baggage before the relationship has even begun. Your children are a blank slate. Rather than being fatalistic about gender roles, and about what you think it will be like to have a son, give your relationship space to unfold. But if you have had strong feelings like this for longer than a few days, seek help.”

Siobhan agrees and offers some hope. She says, “The good news is that even when the baby wasn’t what they were expecting, the vast majority of parents fall head over heels in love with the new bundle of joy. Remember, your child isn’t just a sex… So pink or blue, embrace your child and get to know them.”

Read more: ‘How to teach gender equality to your kids’

The Northwestern University economist Charles Manksi calls it the “reflection problem”: How can we know if person A is affecting person B, or the reverse? Without being in each person’s head or observing every subtle non-verbal cue in their interactions, it’s impossible to know what’s causing what, who is the leader and who is the follower.

Families are especially complex: Cause and effect are hard to disentangle in the bubbling cauldron that is a household. There are the daily negotiations between husband and wife, instructions to (and rejections by) children, and interactions with people outside the family. Taken as a whole, it is a challenge for a social scientist to analyze.

But there is at least one lens through which family interactions and feedback have become apparent: gender. It turns out that a complex set of negotiations and drives revolve around the sex of children, which involve both effects from parents onto children and vice versa.

In 1973, Robert Trivers and Dan Willard put forth the hypothesis that the sex of offspring is not, in fact, a random draw. The argument was based on the fact that, in many mammal species where investments in offspring are high, females are a safer evolutionary bet than males.

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Why You Need Emoji

By Vyvyan Evans

The use of emojis has become a global phenomenon. By 2015, over 6 billion emojis1 were being sent every day by over 90 percent of the world’s online population.2 Emoji, today, dwarfs even the reach of English. For some, emojis…READ MORE

That is, with few exceptions, a female who wants to have offspring can pretty much accomplish that—they just need to rope a male in for a few moments. In a competitive environment, females want to choose the “best” sperm to produce their offspring (in balance with the desire to have a father around who will contribute to the care of said offspring).

So when resources are scarce, or when a female’s health is not in tip-top shape, or when she is at the bottom of the hierarchy, she skews toward the safer investment: daughters. This has been shown in red deer, cows, and even our cousins, the Barbary macaques.1 I say, she skews, because the general theory is that such sex selection is accomplished by signaling within the mother’s body that leads to the spontaneous abortion of male blastocysts (early embryos). A lower level of blood glucose tells the womb that things are not pretty out there.

Stressful events like natural disasters and political upheavals affect sex ratios, even in humans.

While circulating blood glucose is one likely mechanism that affects sex ratios in response to the environment, it is probably not the only one. A growing literature shows that stressful events like natural disasters and political upheavals also affect sex ratios, even in humans. Florencia Torche, for example, found that exposure to an earthquake in Chile during the third month of pregnancy led to a reduction in the number of males born. (This is shocking because it is very late in the pregnancy as compared to the research on the blastula stage.) Other researchers are studying the effects of 9/11 on the sex ratio. So far, evidence is mixed. Ralph Catalano and colleagues found that there was disproportionate male fetal loss among New Yorkers (and, strangely, Californians). Meanwhile, Ryan Brown of Duke University finds no effect using a slightly different sample. And, in perhaps the most troubling study, Amar Hamoudi and Jenna Nobles found that high conflict marriages lead to the birth of more girls.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, is the likely culprit in the above studies; though if stress causes pregnant mothers to neglect eating, glucose could still be the operant pathway. While the study of signaling mechanisms that cause disproportionate male fetal loss makes for exciting science (and indeed there is a whole debate about whether sex ratios are also skewed at conception), the most important factor affecting human populations today is probably social: boy preference.

Some background: In the absence of major trauma or modern technologies, the sex ratio slightly favors boys. The reason for this is generally thought to be that the male sperm has an advantage over the female sperm because the amount of genetic material that the male sperm is carrying weighs less. That’s because the Y-chromosome has dwindled down to almost nothing, while the X is huge. Whatever the reason, the natural course of events seems to favor the birth of boys.

But, since we live in a sexist world, many parents prefer male heirs. The most extreme case of this can be found in East Asia, particularly under China’s one-child policy, where there is no second chance for a male heir. But even American parents betray sexist preferences: Recent analysis of Google searches shows that there are more searches on how to have a boy than there are on how to have a girl.

Francesco Izzo

Having influenced the gender of our children, consciously or not, we find that the conversation is not over. The data are telling us that the gender of our offspring has enormous consequences. Whether we have a son or a daughter affects our lives in ways that we may not care to admit: from our politics (sons make us more liberal and daughters drive us to the Republican Party, in the United States2 if not in Europe) to our family structure (for better or worse, sons make our marriages last longer than do daughters—though daughters may be more the effect of divorce than its cause3,4) to our happiness (dads with adolescent sons are the least happy parents of all5).

In the U.S., University of Kansas sociologist Emily Rauscher and I looked at the gender of the first-born (biological) child among respondents in the General Social Survey—an annual study out of the University of Chicago that is kind of like the Nielsen for social science. We focused on the first-born child since folks with specific gender preferences might stop having kids (or have more) based on the first draw. We also excluded families with step or adopted kids, since these are chosen and not dealt randomly to parents.

We found that—contrary to prior studies, which failed to exclude non-biological children—sons, not daughters, made parents (of both sexes) more liberal and more likely to vote Democratic. Curiously, while daughters made parents more Republican, they also made them more pro-choice. When we dug deeper, we found that the only issues on which the gender of offspring affected parental opinion were related to sexuality. Other partisan debates—guns, foreign policy, taxes, immigration, welfare, and so on—were unaffected. And while daughters caused parents to adopt more conservative views toward sexuality, they paradoxically made them more pro-choice. Or perhaps it isn’t so paradoxical but really just rational: Given that the costs of teenage, premarital childbearing are disproportionately born by the mother, parents of girls might prefer a more chaste sexual landscape and yet also prefer abortion to be legal just in case.

Recent analysis of Google searches shows there are more searches on how to have a boy than on how to have a girl.

Of course, it’s hard to know whether our sons and daughters are actually changing us through social interaction. Does a baby girl’s actions make Mom and Dad see the world in a new light? Or does she merely tip the scales in terms of incentives? For example, Abigail Weitzman, a Ph.D. candidate at New York University, finds that across the less developed world bearing a daughter carries what she calls a “tax” that is borne by the mother. Mothers of first-born daughters are not only more likely to be abandoned or abused, they have to go to work at higher rates. Evidently, fathers want the mothers of their sons to stay home and raise them. But they aren’t willing to forsake additional family income in the case of nurturing daughters.

But the effects of child gender are not all that simple in the end. While mothers may bear a daughter tax, fathers appear to experience a second adolescence when they have sons. That is, when men have boys family life may appear hunky dory—that is, until those sons enter adolescence themselves. Then it appears that developing-world dads either get competitive with their sons, become jealous, or feel the need to model stereotypically masculine behavior for them. Weitzman finds that fathers of boys who are ages 12 to 18—but not dads of girls that age or of boys at other ages—are more likely to hold extreme views such as believing that it is okay to force sex upon an unwilling woman. They are also more likely to go outside the marriage for sex and to bring back sexually transmitted diseases to the family. This is perhaps the best evidence for parental socialization by children—the dads’ incentives are not likely to have changed as a result of their sons’ blossoming sexuality, just their mindset.

The sociological study of groups tells us that social life is rarely one-way. Health affects wealth and vice versa. Birds of a feather flock together, and so on. Gender and family, it turns out, is no different.

Dalton Conley is a professor of sociology, medicine, and public policy at New York University and the author of several books, most recently, Parentology.

4. Dahl, G.B. & Moretti, E. The demand for sons. Review of Economic Studies 75, 1085-1120 (2004).

5. Senior, J. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood Ecco (2014).