God Laughs Some More

We got some big news on Thursday.

On Monday, we’d gone in for a CVS. It was yet another invasive, painful test involving my uterus, technology, needles and people telling me that in the face of the most excruciating pain my nether regions had ever experienced, I needed to stay absolutely still or it wouldn’t work. It’s really no wonder women lose their shit when it comes to motherhood and ideas of perfection. Every turn you take in this venture tests your fortitude, and everything is on the line.

In this case, there was a needle and some suction happening just a spit away from my unborn kid. The whole process didn’t take long, but it was one of those moments where my most authentic reaction to fear and pain surfaces: I am stoic, I don’t want to be touched, please don’t talk to me and I say a litany of Hail Mary’s. It was hard to hold my shit together amid the pain and the notion that if I reacted to that pain in any fashion, I’d be putting my kid in jeopardy. There might have been tears.

But then it was over, and the tech ran the ultrasound wand back over my belly and flipped the sound and once again we saw the baby was intact, and heard that strong, mighty heartbeat.

I don’t have any friends who have had a CVS. There is a lot riding on that test, a lot that can be revealed that can change everything. Predictably, we tried to block it out – we only had to do so for 48 hours – but potential chromosomal abnormalities are tough not to worry about. But late on Thursday, I noticed the doctor had called and, as I instructed her to go ahead and do, left the following message:

“Everything came back normal. And as you requested to learn the sex of the baby …

It’s a girl!

I have a lot – oh sweet Jesus a lot – of complex emotions going on about this, all of which came inconveniently bubbling up to the top during the estrogen fest that is BlogHer this past week, but I really never saw myself as the mother of a girl. And of course my approach to this was as though I had some modicum of control over the matter, but there it is. Please don’t misunderstand and then feel you need to swoop in with righteous indignation – I didn’t care what sex our child was, just that he or she is healthy and happy. I’m just excited to be blessed enough to be having a baby, and I’m still as thrilled and over-the-moon as I could be. This doesn’t mean, however, that having a girl doesn’t stir up some dust bunnies, and I’m not about to pretend that it doesn’t.

I always knew there was a chance we’d have a girl, of course, but if I had to own up to that fact, I’d have to own up and reconcile my own bougie little problems with the sort of woman that I am. Or, as is more appropriate, the woman I am not.

After all, much of my own personal narrative centers on the sort of mother I didn’t have, and how that has shaped me. The shortcomings of a woman who was supposed to be the model of being a mother and lo’ how she wasn’t. It’s criminal what we allow ourselves to do and think and believe. In truth, I’ve made some peace and, grown the fuck up, when it comes to certain aspects of the kind of mothering I experienced. Just the same, it doesn’t make me feel less vulnerable and ill-equipped to mother a girl, and to not be painfully aware of how easy it was for me pass judgment and now I have to put up or shut up.

Am I actually woman enough to mother a girl the way I’ve always thought I should have been by my mother? The task seems much more monumental than raising a boy seemed to be, but I sense that has much more to do with these desperate hopes:

That I will have that a daughter who will be more forgiving of my humanity than I ever was of my own mother’s. That she will be more compassionate and kind than I ever was. That she will be OK with what I will ultimately fail to give to her. That she will be OK.

These are tall orders.

I’m growing already-sentimental about the daughter growing inside me. I think about all of the things I want to teach her, and things I’m already promising her. They’re many of the same lessons Scott and I learned from our parents.

I will always pay, but you will get some sort of job when you turn 14. You will probably be the kid with the strictest parents but no one will ever, ever hit you. Ever. You are equally smart and beautiful and I will never forget how important it is to be reminded that you are both. I will make a home for you where people talk about, not eat, their feelings, in the hopes you don’t inherit my poor coping mechanisms. I cannot promise that you won’t have a life teeming with hardship, but I will promise to teach you how to handle those moments with grace, and to be grateful for the darkness as well as the light. You will address each and every adult by “Mr.” or “Miss” or “Mrs.” without exception, but I’ll be sure to remind you, each and every day, that people earn trust and respect.

It is OK to fail, to stumble, to fall, to screw up royally. I will not make you feel less because you stumbled; after all, it’s not about me. You might suffer some consequences, but one of those things won’t be a constant, nagging worry that I won’t love you or accept you because you’re not perfect. But oh my God don’t screw around in school. I will ground you for all of eternity.

If you can make a convincing argument, and your grades are top-notch and you’re a decent human being, I do not care if you cut your hair into a mohawk and dye it green. Your father and I decided a long, long time ago that hair and body piercings would not be the hill we would die on, but we’re going to place some conditions on the whole artistic expression of self when you’re under 18 and living in our house. After all, we’ve found that there are some kids for whom a lack of love and support and direction from adults has translated into forms of screams for attention, like shaved hair and a bull ring through the nose. We just want to make sure we’re listening, and that the desire for fuchsia Manic Panic is really a personal choice, and not simply a way to signal to us how sad and scared you are.

But I’m never going to make fun of you for wanting the mohawk or nose ring, either way. The world will judge you enough, and you’ll need someone on your side to help you maneuver their narrow-mindedness.

I feel like knowing these small bits about myself, and what I hope for our daughter, brings me some calm. These are things I’d teach a boy, too, come to think of it. I’m certain we’ll stumble – after all, I don’t know what our world will look like in the years to come, and how that will shape my ability to deliver on everything – but I’ve got a jumping off point.

It’s a start.