Stop assuming my husband secretly wishes he had sons

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Image: CaiaImage/Getty

Ask people what they envision the perfect family looks like, and most likely they’ll say one that includes two kids — a boy and a girl. What happens when your family falls outside this scenario? And what if (gasp!) you’re OK with that?

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Our first child was a girl, and upon her birth, friends and family congratulated my husband and me. Shortly thereafter, people asked when we were going to start trying for a boy. Although we wanted a second child, we were not tied to having a boy for the sake of equaling out the genders.

My husband and I discussed how great it would be for our daughter to have a little sister — a mini her and our daughter 2.0. After all, I’ve experienced sisterly love firsthand — my older sister and I are best friends. We guided each other while growing up and still do so today. I imagined that type of relationship between my own children.

A few years later, to our delight, I became pregnant again. We didn't know the baby’s gender when we attended my friend’s Thanksgiving dinner. The gathering included her extended family, and my friend had already announced my pregnancy prior to my arrival. After mingling and helping my daughter settle in, I decided to make a bathroom stop. As I walked down the hallway, a raspy voice barked, “So you want a boy now, right?”

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I stopped and turned. My friend’s aunt was sitting in the room I had just passed. “Excuse me?” I inquired.

"You already have a girl, so you want a boy,” she stated matter-of-factly.

"Um, not necessarily,” I said. “Our preference is for another girl, but we will love our baby no matter what its gender.”

"Oh, come on, that’s just what you want,” scoffed the aunt. “Your husband really wants a boy — all guys do.”

I paused, in shock that someone would make such brazen assumptions about my husband and me and actually voice them to my face. Did I do something to offend her? Was it her wine talking? Then again, this was the “crazy aunt” my friend had mentioned. I glanced down the hallway for my friend, husband or daughter — anyone, really — to no avail.

It is not my personality to talk back to elders, especially relatives of my friends, but I felt like I had to defend myself. I slowly but firmly said, “No, really, my husband would be OK with two girls and no boys.”

The aunt quipped, “Sure, you go ahead and believe that. He’s just saying what you want to hear. Good luck if you have a girl. You’ll need it."

I did not like this conversation and had no energy to fight, so I excused myself and went into the bathroom, fuming about what had just happened. How dare she be so dismissive, as if she knew my husband better than me? It’s not like we could choose our baby’s gender anyway. Why is it so hard to believe that a man can prefer having only daughters?

Somehow I got through the dinner and avoided any communication with the aunt. On the drive home, I told my husband what had happened. He was supportive and felt bad he wasn’t there during the incident to defend me.

Later in the week, I told my friend about my exchange with her aunt. She felt terrible and apologized profusely, even though it wasn’t her fault. She explained that her mom and aunt didn't get along and merely tolerated each other for the holidays. She mentioned the strained relationships her aunt had with her own daughters but not with her son. I realized then that I shouldn’t take the incident personally because her aunt’s behavior stemmed from her own experiences.

Six months later, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Today I see the bond between my two daughters, who hold hands, hug and play together. So far their relationship mirrors the one I had with my older sister, and it puts a smile on my face. Now when people ask if we’re trying for a third baby to get a boy, I simply say, “No, we’re not. We’re happy as is.”

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