Since we found out our second child was going to be a boy, we’ve been congratulated this way:
“Oh that’s exciting. Now you have the perfect family.”
Today while shopping I ran into a mother and her four daughters. They ranged in ages from about 7-14. The youngest girl asked to see “the baby.” Ethan was covered up since he was sleeping. I uncovered him because she asked so sweetly. They all came over and saw him and the mom said we did a great job on our first handsome baby. I told her that his big sister asked to go to Nana’s house. She said, “Oh you did a good job. You have the perfect family. We kept trying, but after four girls we gave up and called it quits.”
This statement has a few implications tied to it. These implications are heartbreaking.
Implication 1: a boy and girl combo is the ideal standard for perfection.
Problem: if your second child is the same sex as the first, you have failed to reach perfection. The truth is that if Ethan had been a girl, I would not have been less excited about his arrival. I would have loved having two girls just as much as having a girl and a boy. My family would have been just as perfectly sweet to me.
Implication 2: now that you have one of each, you are done!
Problem: We’ve heard this one over and over. We have even been told that with the economy, it’s best to stop while we have the perfect family because more than two, is too expensive. It’s apparently better to stop now so that we can give more to the two children we have. I can not begin to explain how much that bothers me. As far as giving to our children, we have not ever lived based on the economy around us. We have lived based on God’s economy, and HE OWNS EVERYTHING. We have surrendered our finances to Him from the beginning of our marriage, and He has always provided. More than that, the best of what we can give our children is not giving them a bunch of stuff. The best inheritance they’ll ever receive from us is how we love them and point them to Jesus.
Implication 3: a third child messes with perfection
Problem: Having a boy and girl and deciding to have more children is not strange. If we have a third child, they WILL NOT be wrecking something perfect. They will be joining a family that will love them just as much as the first two.
Implication 4: there’s a perfect family
Problem: each of our families is perfectly sweet in their own way. There are some with just one child because it was impossible to have more. There are families that have one boy and one girl, and the parents decided not to have more because they were content. There are families with fostered or adopted children that were lovingly placed in their homes. Some people have all girls or all boys. What I’m trying to say is the number and sex of your children doesn’t matter nearly as much as your heart that set on loving them and pointing them to Christ.
Back to my shopping conversation:
The oldest daughter rolled her eyes when her mom said this. Can you imagine how many times she and her sisters have heard her mother say that they were aiming for a boy and having them was missing the mark? Girls in this age have such a tough time finding confidence and be assured of who they are. I looked at the mom and said, “If he would have been a girl, we would have been so blessed. We may have more, and I think that’ll be great too. I think four girls is a perfect family in its own way.” The mother didn’t say anything, but two of the daughters smiled really big at me as I wished them a good day and moved on.
I hope that we would all be mindful and look at each family as its own beautiful picture of abundant blessing. I hope that we would be mindful of what we say in front of our children. They will never be able to “unhear” your words. Speak in love and kindness to and about them. Enjoy their beauty and the gift getting to love them is, whatever that looks like.