A few weeks back while the boys and I were making a grocery run, the lady at the check out began talking to Noah about all of our boys. "Good thing you guys don't have a sister," the lady said to him, "She'd be in trouble with all you boys." Without skipping a beat Noah replied with a quiet smile, "We have a sister. She's in Heaven." The lady smiled, we gathered up our things and went on our way.
On another occasion while out to dinner one Saturday, a lady at the restaurant stood near our table studying our busy little family as we got settled in our booth. "Is your baby a boy or a girl?" she asked, pointing to Emmitt in his carrier. "A little boy," I replied with a smile as I rocked Emmitt a bit back and forth and attempted to distract Noah and Mason while we waited for our meal to arrive. I braced myself for more to come. The lady looked around the table at our boys, the two older ones now playing in their ketchup. With her arms crossed she leaned over to me and whispered with a grin,
"CAN'T MAKE GIRLS???"
I closed my eyes for a moment, responded with a sideways smile and begin wiping off little ketchup fingers with a napkin. It was all I could do to keep the tears that were stinging at bay.
I have lost track of the number of similar conversations I have had with people since we knew Emmitt would be joining our family. They began when he was still growing in my tummy. Gender and size were always popular subjects. There was the "Three boys, huh? You've got your work cut out for you!" and the "Are you sure it's not twins?" and "Wow, you're HUGE!" One woman even argued with me in the middle of the toothpaste aisle one day, just convinced I was having a girl by the way I was carrying Emmitt in my tummy (and even more convinced that I was MUCH further along than I was claiming). She went as far as calling her husband over, yelling down the aisle passed a number of other customers, just to take a look and give his two cents. It always amazes me how freely people use their words upon seeing a perfect stranger with a round, pregnant belly, or a mom just doing life with her three little boys. You would think that we walk through public places making a scene like a three-ring circus, complete with a big bullseye permanently painted to the front of us. I know that people don't mean any harm by their comments, but I always walk away from conversations like these so disheartened and discouraged. It is one of those hard things I have yet to learn how to handle without it affecting the rest of my day. Maybe it will become easier to hear as the boys get older, or maybe it will always sting.
The most hurtful part, though, comes when people offer their condolences instead of congratulations upon seeing our all-boy family. A parent in Noah's class is always asking me when we're going to try for a girl (expressing how badly she wanted her third little boy to be a girl, and how blatantly DISAPPOINTED she was when her son did not turn out to be a daughter). It would just break my heart for any one of my sons to feel undesired or second best. My boys, although rambunctious and wild at times, are wonderful little people. I have watched the responses that all-girl families elicit from onlookers and just wonder why boys are not doted upon in the same manner. My sons' hearts are tender and just as capable of being hurt. They are loving and kind and compassionate. Their baseball caps and fistfuls of Lego men are no indication that they are rude or rough or undeserving of accolades. Perhaps I am overly sensitive and aware of it all. It's hard for this mama's heart to process. And then to have the comments come--the ones about not being able to make girls--that make me wish that people knew how very GRATEFUL we are for each one of our sons, that our new baby boy is a celebrated and welcomed gift, that it is our privilege to raise three princes, that our princes have a precious sister, and that we are a party of five, but a family of SIX.