I Didn’t Want To Raise Girls…Until I Did

Recently one of my readers asked me if I wish I had boys instead of girls. Of course the answer is an emphatic, “NO” – but did I always feel that way? I’d be lying if I said yes.

First, let’s rewind a few years back.

When my wife showed me the positive pregnancy test for our first baby in 2009, I blurted out, “Awesome! I just hope it’s a boy!”

Fail.

I figured that if I had a son I could teach him how to play basketball, throw a punch, and play in the dirt. With a girl, I’d be stuck playing dress up and other “girly crap.”

Epic fail.

After a few weeks of “I want a boy so badly” talk, our world came crashing down. If you’ve followed my blog closely, you’ll remember that our first pregnancy didn’t end well and it was pretty devastating for us. After months of grieving, I realized that the only thing I ever wanted was to be a dad – not just a dad to a little boy. I cursed myself for being so stupid and immature, and I prayed for redemption – which I fortunately achieved. As the story goes, we got pregnant again in 2010, and there was no “I hope it’s a boy” nonsense. As a matter of fact, tears of joy streamed down my face when the doctor told us that we were having a little girl. Since January 2011, my oldest daughter introduced me to a brand of love that I never knew existed. Additionally, I truly believe that having two little girls has transformed me into a better, stronger, and smarter man than I would’ve been without them.

Here are some reasons why:

 

REVELATION #1: I realize that everything I could do with a boy I can do with my daughters (i.e. play basketball, teach them how to throw a punch, and play in the dirt).  Yes, I know that’s a big fat “duh” for many of you, but I’m a recovering knucklehead with minimal relapses, so please humor me. And yes, I’m going to teach them much more than those three things – but I promise you that I will teach them those three things.

 

REVELATION #2: I realize that my daughters will use me as a benchmark for how men should behave. Again, that’s not really earth-shattering stuff, since every dad is the primary male role model for his children. Unfortunately there are some dads who view their job titles as who they are instead of what they do. They’re accountants, vice presidents, CEOs, construction workers, etc., but they never describe themselves as dads and husbands first. Those same men are the ones who feel that their responsibilities to the family ends once they walk through the front door. They’re not changing diapers, they’re not reading bedtime stories, they’re not giving baths, they’re not cooking dinner, and they’re not doing anything that doesn’t include sitting on their asses watching ESPN or surfing the Internet while their spouses do it all (even if said spouses did those tasks all day as stay-at-home moms or if they worked full-time office jobs). In other words, they’re just living, breathing ATM machines.

The best dads I know (and I know plenty of them) view their day job titles as what they do, but their jobs never become who they areThey are dads and husbands first and foremost. When I worked full-time job in corporate America, I remembered that after a day of sitting on conference calls, attending project meetings, and hitting aggressive deadlines, the only thing I wanted to do was rest when I get home. Then I thought about my daughters. I’ll be damned if they look at me and think, “Daddy doesn’t cook, give us baths, read bedtime stories, or change our diapers. He just sits around while Mommy does everything. Maybe that’s how all men should act and that’s what I should expect from a future husband.” I do all of those things when I get home because that’s what a dad and a husband is supposed to do.

Please know that I’m not a robot. Oftentimes I feel like grunting myself into unconsciousness after reading The Cat in the Hat for the 9th time in a row, or sometimes I’m so tired that I’ll mess up a batch of chili so badly that it could fertilize your front lawn. But I do it anyway, because I want my baby girls to expect their daddy to be actively involved – always. Eventually when they become older and go to college, I’ll be wishing for those days when my daughters sat on my lap to read books. I take the responsibility of being the primary male role model for my kids very seriously.

 

REVELATION #3: I realize that being “girly” is just a myth. What does that mean, anyway? Would my kid be less girly if she dressed up as Spider-Man for Halloween instead of a princess? (and that’s exactly what she did, by the way) Would she be less girly if she wanted to tackle little boys on the football field instead of taking ballet classes? Not to me. That would be like saying a dude who can bench press 250 lbs is more manly than a guy who sings songs to his kids before bed. I’ve learned that being a girl can be whatever the hell a girl wants it to be, and I will never limit them when it comes to that. Additionally, I want to introduce my daughters to other women who are crushing it in male-dominated fields (executive leadership, sports journalism/broadcasting, coding, law enforcement, etc.) so they’ll understand that it’s possible to do anything that their little hearts desire.

 

REVELATION #4: I realize that being loud is a good thing. And by loud, I mean believing in something so deeply that they’ll shout from the rooftops about it without worrying about haters, naysayers, and other clowns have to say about them. In a world where women are still fighting for equality, I want my girls to speak up in the living room, classroom, and board room in order to be heard. Forget the foolishness about being viewed as “pushy,” “bossy,” or “bitchy” for having an opinion or for taking a stance. Closed mouths don’t get fed.

 

REVELATION #5: I realize that I’m built for raising girls in today’s society, or at least I think I am. And let’s be real – girls have to deal with a lot of challenging things today. Pressure to be liked by others, pressure to have sex, body image, mean girls, teen pregnancy, rape, etc. I’m sure I missed some, but I’m getting depressed listing them out. I can’t protect them from all of the ills of society, but I can ensure that they’ll have the confidence and smarts (both book smarts and street smarts) to thrive in this crazy world we live in. Just like I’m fighting for dads to get a seat at the table when it comes to parenting issues, I want women to have a seat at the table when it comes to issues that impact them – and not just for my daughters, but for your daughters, too..

***

In closing – yes, I’m sure I’d be just as happy if I had boys instead of girls – but there’s something special about the bond between a dad and his daughters that cannot be explained, and I wouldn’t change that bond for anything.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the mall has a half-price sale on toddler jeggings.

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Comments

  1. says

    Every blog you write, I feel like you are talking directly to me lol. I always wanted a boy, so I could teach him football. I always wanted him to be a linebacker. I am so incredibly grateful. Instead of me molding a little boy, I feel like my daughter is the one molding her daddy. I have changed so much and learned so many things because of her!

  2. T. says

    I have one of each. I wanted a boy who was exactly like me in interests and personality because I could teach him everything I knew or thought I knew. Instead I got a boy who is the exact opposite of me and a clone of his mother, and a daughter who is the clone of me. It’s teaching me things I didn’t know before.

    • Victoria says

      This is really beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.
      Happy Fathers Day to you.

  3. Todd says

    LOVE this. As a first-time daddy of a beautiful 1-year-old daughter, I find myself so freaking honoured to be her dad – and I realize what a big responsibility that is. Since she was born, I verbally tell her as often as I can that yes, she is beautiful, but that she is strong, smart and important as well. Thanks for sharing this, DDW!

  4. bmommyx2 says

    I never cared if I had boys or girls, but as a female it’s a little scary to be raising two boys I often feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I suspect that’s how dads feel about their daughters. Where I really feel like a fish our of water is when it comes to potty learning & questions or issues with their boy parts. Even with dad around they spend most of their time with me & I’m who they go to for help & questions. I love my boys & it’s forced me to know more than I ever wanted to about things like Snails, slugs, worms, octopus & jellyfish. I’m not even a girly girl, but those are not things that appealed to me. If I had a supper girly girl I would feel out of place too. That’s probably what I’ll have next is a super girly girl, lol. Children test us & teach us in many ways for the better.

  5. Tonya says

    I wanted a daughter. Badly. I slept with little ruffled socks over my bed during pregnancy in the vain attempt of influencing the outcome. I got sons. Two rowdy, sweaty, loud, and truly amazing sons. I am learning how to help them to navigate through life as young, Black men who are growing up in a world that is trying valiantly to change its mindset on some major issues, but a world that is in some ways giving only lip service to change. I am standing up for their right to be individuals who can choose their own destiny and trying my best to instill the desire in them to be honorable young men who are an asset to the world in which they live. They’re teenagers and are into a lot of positive things, so I am counting that as a win for now.

    I am teaching them every day while they teach me so much more. I always say, when I tell people about the “me” that I used to be with regard to wanting a daughter so desperately, God knows what you need. Sounds like you and I both needed eye openers, DDW. Good thing we’re smart cookies and learned that quickly.

  6. Nikki says

    I’m a massive fan of all your reasons, but particularly #3. As a female coder, I can tell you that role models are often hard to find. They’re out there, and amazing, but it can be challenging in an mostly male world to keep moving forward and doing your best. You’re teaching your daughters to be whatever they want to be, and that’s absolutely amazing!

  7. says

    I loved this piece! My dad got 4 girls & I like to think he was happy with it… and 1 played D-1 basketball and 1 played D-1 volleyball & 1 played D-2 volleyball! He never missed a game :)

    Less competition for girls at the collegiate sport level too so keep that in mind. 😉

  8. Mark says

    Two toddler girls myself, and probably like you I just ‘expected’ I would have a boy.

    In hindsight, I really don’t think I do anything different with my daughters that I would do with a son. The only time I think about whether I would like to have had a boy is when I’m prompted such as in reading this article. Prior to having kids, I would have thought that I would have to have a boy to feel like I can be the dad I want. Found out that those very thoughts just never come around at all.

  9. says

    I am a mom to two girls. I totally agree with your post and I think my husband went through the same stuff which you wrote about. But as a mom, I want to add something.

    When my younger daughter comes back home saying girls in her class called her tomboy because she likes to run and be active, I told her a girl has every right to be sporty and active and that is not only a BOYS ONLY area. I taught her the label ‘tomboy’ is incorrect and was used when it was incorrectly believed that girls should behave a certain way.

    When my elder one comes home because she is called too girly by her more active friends (she likes art and craft stuff, not very sporty), I tell her you are a girl by gender. What do you do or do not do, does not make you more or less of a girl. Being a girl is your gender, don’t let it limit or define you. What you are inside as a PERSON is what is important. Being a gender is just a fact about you and everything else is the TRUE YOU….

    So, having two very different daughters and a husband who is trying to and have taught our girls all the “so called” boys stuff, I know how each day looks.

    As a mom and a woman, I am happy when my husband understands that my elder daughter is no less of a girl for choosing non-active hobbies. And my younger one is also no less of a girl, by being active.

    That’s why I don’t like labels like girly or tomboy. Its just a choice whether you are into sports or not. We can use better labels like sporty or non-sporty.

    And when I see my husband happily serving tea (lemonade actually) from their little toy kettle and both of them laughing around. I realize any kind of daughter can teach their fathers that a father will and always be needed in more ways than can be expressed.

    :)

    Very thoughtful post. Loved it.

  10. Matt says

    It’s as if I wrote this myself. I felt the same way, similar loss, 2 years grieving, and now I have my second daughter – I am blessed!

  11. says

    I was exactly the same, I always thought I wanted a boy. When we found out we were having a girl my wife was upset because she was worried I would be disappointed it wasn’t a boy, I was delighted we were having a healthy baby. When my daughter arrived that was the moment all the things changed in my life, all priorities changed. My daughter is my little princess, my little monkey, I have discovered a new kind of love I never thought existed. The last 10 months have gone so quickly and I enjoy waking up each day and seeing her little face topped of with her saying Dada when I walk in the room. When I am away I never miss having a FaceTime call to say good morning or good night. I love having a daughter and look forward to the future.
    Steve Cole recently posted..Cole-1415My Profile

  12. Pat says

    This is the first blog I have read from you and this was sent from a friend. Having kids is a gift and I treasure my two daughters (Morgan, 4; Eva, 1). I love coming home from work and going to the library, playground, running around with them, acting like a monster and chasing them or playing hide and go seek as they hide in the most obvious spaces and I act like oblivious to it as they both laugh hysterically. As a therapist, I hear pretty tough stories of distant, absent, or angry fathers and the devastating effects it can have on children. Not only do I love your blog but I also LOVE all the comments from the GREAT fathers and mothers below your story. Although, my wife and I have given Morgan free range of what she would like to play and enjoy. She has gone towards the direction of princesses and my little pony (Thank you Frozen!!). So, it has been so much fun as she puts tiara’s on me, paints my finger/toenails, and we play our characters of her favorite movies and shows. She likes having me play the reindeer Sven in frozen, not the charming prince or even the snowman, I am the reindeer!!! Again, thank you for being an awesome Dad!!!

  13. Ali says

    Just read this great piece on Upworthiest and had to come on over to see (and subscribe to) your blog. My dad had 3 girls and never made us feel he would have preferred boys (well, ok, just a little bit when we–much older–found out that he had taken our cousin, the only boy in the extended fam, on some outings without us). On my part, my husband and I have 2 boys. With the first, I didn’t know if expecting a boy was because that’s what I sensed inside, or if because I knew how much it mattered to my husband and his brothers, but we were thrilled to welcome a son.

    However, a year or so later I found out how much I expected my second child to be a girl when I had a very vivid, even lucid, dream about having another son. In the dream I went through a shock/denial/acceptance process and woke up identifying myself as a “mom of boys.” So when I got pregnant with #2 months later, I KNEW he was a boy from the beginning, but my husband had to work through his expectation of “boy first, girl second.”

    When people ask if I wish I had a girl, my honest answer “No, I wouldn’t change my family for the world. I’ll admit I love the little girl shoes and dresses, but I can buy those for nieces and cousins. My boys have given me a view of caring that I never had before, for example the first compliment I ever heard big brother give little brother: as they played dinosaurs, “Nice stomping {name of little bro}.”

    Sorry for the long-windedness, couldn’t resist the chance to share my story!

  14. Shawna says

    I grew up with 2 sisters and our father never made us feel like we weren’t exactly what he wanted. He was a great role model for us and I always measuring any man I met up to him. I’m sure your daughters will do the same. However, when I found out I was expecting both of my children I freverently hoped for boys. Although my sisters are now my best friends there was a lot of drama (fights) in my house growing up. I believed girls would be too much of the same. We had a boy first and girl second and I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world. My son isn’t what I thought a boy would be like and my daughter certainly isn’t what I thought a girl would be like. Don’t get me wrong my son is a wonderful blessing but I am so thankful for my unanswered prayers. My daughter is much more than I had hoped she would be. I always tell her “God knew what he was doing we he gave me you!” God knew what he was doing when he gave you daughters also. Keep loving your girls and Bravo for giving them such a great role model!

  15. Clarknt67 says

    Good. It only our own preconceptions that tell us what boy kids and girl kids will do. In truth most kids will enjoy doing what you want to do because they want time and attention of their parents. Likewise the parents may find they enjoy what their kids want to do because seeing them happy and engaged is it’s own reward.

  16. Cheryl B. says

    I have a similar story, except I’m a mom. I too had my first pregnancy end in a miscarriage, but I don’t remember preferring a boy over a girl or vice versa. I planned to have one of each and the order didn’t matter. After 2 years of trying we were finally pregnant again. At this point healthy was all that mattered. I had a girl and 18 months later, another girl. Ok now I was a mom of divas and life would be filled with dance class, gymnastics and dolls. Well, mostly. One wore pink, the other purple. That changed when they learned how to choose their own wardrobe…by elementary school. I did go on to have a third child…a boy. Bingo! Time to buy blue. I adore all my kids, who are adults now. Four grands have come along…boy…boy…boy…BINGO! Girl! Back to ruffles and lace again…or…could she be a tomboy? No matter. She’ll be herself! Thanks for sharing your story…many of us relate.

  17. Leah says

    I am a woman and was so desperate for daughters I was heartsick when I found out each of my children was a boy. Now, boy, cannot love those little boys (not so little anymore!) any more than I do. I found out that I could share holidays and special times with them, read and do crafts with them, cook with them, and even though they’re not the athletes I am (cough, cough) I still coach their sports and throw the ball whenever they’ll let me. So glad life turned out differently than I expected!

  18. says

    So good to see African American Dads blogging. I searched and searched. Glad I found you! Keep up the good work with your kids!

    Kim Harris

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