“My, you have your hands full,” says the old lady behind me in the Target checkout line. I see her mentally count heads to three. “All boys?”
“Yep, all boys,” I say proudly.
“Oh, poor you. You going to try for your girl soon?” she asked, all wide-eyed innocence.
No. No, I won’t be “trying for my girl soon.” Because I don’t want a girl. I’m perfectly happy with a passel of sons, and I hope we have more. I hate the idea that we somehow need children of both sexes for fulfillment. Because we want more children, and we hope they’re boys. Of course, we’d love and cherish a girl, but we love having our boys. And I don’t feel unfulfilled in the least.
There’s a sense that boys make your “hands full.” As a mother of boys, I hear that a lot. “You have your hands full!” What does that even mean? That I’m busy, I suppose. That I’m always chasing down a child, or breaking up a fight, or cleaning up a spill. That someone’s always jumping off the couch, or hitting someone else, or repurposing ordinary household objects as weaponry. That would mostly be correct. My boys are active, normal human males, and that means lots of wrestling and running and knocking things over. But saying I have my hands full isn’t really so much acknowledging the reality of my existence as ridiculing it. Sure, an old lady might just think she’s starting a conversation. But it’s not a nice one, and it doesn’t paint my boys in a great light.
Because they are more than bouncing electrons. My boys cuddle on the couch. They help each other sketch dinosaurs, and they share their prized pirate sets with their little brothers. Yes, I’m busy. But I have lulls in the day, quiet times when everyone plays LEGOs and dinosaurs, or does stickers and draws, and the house is quiet except for the murmur of Stormtroopers and the zoom of Matchbox cars. They curl into warm, cuddly balls at night when they sneak into my bed. They cuddle on me. They cuddle with their brothers. They stretch out on their daddy, one on each side, and all fall asleep, snoring gently. My hands are full … of hugs.
It’s not a “poor me” that I have three sons. I always wanted boys. I love to play LEGOs and knights and pirates. They were obsessed with dinosaurs from the moment they were born, and this wasn’t countercultural. I read dinosaurs, draw dinosaurs, play dinosaurs. I know the names of cryolophosaurus and micropachycephalosaurus. We divide them up — predators and prey. We make room-wide dino scenes. Yes, I’m the only one in the house who sits down to pee. I’m the only one with breasts, which I use to feed the youngest, and so which my sons are completely blasé about. None of these things impact my daily existence.
I also don’t want to try for a girl soon. We want more kids — we want more babies with an ache that hurts. I’ve saved every single item of clothing my kids have ever worn, sorted and labeled in tupperware bins in the attic. I’ve saved shoes; I’ve saved blankets and toys and co-sleepers. We plan to have at least two more, maybe more than that. And I hope, like I hoped with each other baby, that I’d have another boy.
I don’t want to plan for a girl. Frankly, girl culture scares me. I don’t like the dress-up-fairy-princess play, the emphasis on marrying a handsome man. Dolls kind of freak me out. There’s so much worry about mean girls and bullying. It’s the Seinfeld quote: “Boys give each other atomic wedgies, girls tease each other until one of them gets an eating disorder.”
And the pinksplosion. I dare you to go into the little girls’ clothing section and find something that isn’t at least partially pink or purple. If it’s not pink or purple, it’s white or otherwise pastel, because we can’t dress girls in strong colors unless it’s a formal dress. And don’t get me started on what little girls’ clothes look like. Cut up to here, and down to there, with the words “CUTIE” emblazoned on them. We’re sexualizing kids just out of the cradle; I don’t want to have to deal with that. I don’t want to explain to my relatives why my daughter can’t wear that or watch that or play with that. It’s too much trouble; boys are simpler.
So yes, old lady at Target, all three of them are boys. We won’t be trying for a girl, and we’re quite happy about it. We like our dirty, messy, cuddly, loud, muddy mess. I’m happy to have all boys. And I hope they’re happy to have me as a mom.