By the time you read this on Monday, Andrew and I will either be anxiously waiting for our prenatal appointment, sitting in the doctor’s office, or celebrating our much-anticipated news. Because we’re finally finding out if we’re having a girl or a boy. It’s been the question on everyone’s minds recently, and I’ve gotten very good at answering it: Yes, we are going to find out the sex of the baby, and no, we’re not sure if we’re going to tell everyone the baby’s name before he or she is born. We’re finding out at our level II ultrasound on the 28th. Which is today.
Andrew and I have been eagerly waiting for this day for a long time. As exciting as the past four months have been, I think we’ve both grown tired of the constant “he or she,” “his or her,” or the most frustrating, “it.” Because my child is not an ‘it,’ but saying ‘it’ is a whole lot more convenient than the alternatives. Regardless of whether we reveal the baby’s name immediately, it will be so refreshing to finally be able to say “he” or “she.” It will make thinking, talking, and even dreaming about the baby so much easier. Because it’s kind of hard to do those things when you’re not sure if your baby is a boy or a girl.
Most of the time, I imagine the first few weeks and months of our baby’s life with us. I dream about changing diapers, late night nursing sessions, and watching him or her sleep. Our child would do all of these things, regardless of his or her gender. The only thing that would probably change from time to time would be the color of our baby’s onesie. Because I already know that as soon as I announce the baby’s sex, my family will be all about purchasing the cutest outfits for either girls or boys. I can already picture all types of dresses and princess-themed attire for a little girl, or little preppy and sports-themed outfits for a little boy. And you can be sure that I’ll be participating in some purchasing from time to time as well.
Andrew and I have already decided that we want our larger furniture to be in gender-neutral colors. We would like to have more children in the future, but it seems unlikely that all of our children will be of the same sex. Hence, to be a bit more cost-effective, we’ll be investing in items that can be reused in the future, even if we have a child of the opposite sex. As for the smaller items, we’ll be looking for items that are gender-differentiated. Since it can be hard to tell if a baby is a boy or girl at the beginning, I figure I’ll help people out a bit. I’d prefer that people not call my little girl a boy or vice versa, just because they’re not wearing anything that would indicate one gender or the other.
Eventually though, my baby is not going to need gender-specific clothing to show their gender. Her voice will give her away. Or his haircut. Or her choice of hobby. Or his friends. I will not need to dress him or her in blues and pinks anymore. Maybe she will hate pink. Maybe he will hate sports. Maybe she will be a girly-girl who likes to play dress-up and hates getting dirty. Or perhaps she will prefer softball and basketball, and will come home regularly with stained knees and elbows. Maybe he will like trucks and video games. Or perhaps he will prefer figure skating like his mother. The possibilities seem endless. But at least I’ll be able to cut half the options once I know if we’re having a boy or a girl.
The impending gender reveal also has me thinking far into the future. Conceiving our child made me a mother and Andrew a father. The specifics of what kind of father and what kind of mother we will be is still to be determined. I will inevitably relate differently to my child depending on its sex. My mother was my biggest role model as a child. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. Once I was a young adult, she became my best friend, as well as being my mother. Now I aspire to have a relationship with my daughters just like the one I shared with my own mother. My relationship with my father was different. He has always been my hero, but I have never aspired to be just like him, not in the same way that I wanted to be like my mother. I understood from an early age that we were different. There were many qualities that I admired in him and desired for myself, but I knew that my mother and father were different and it was my mother who would teach me to be a woman.
I took that truth for granted as a child. When I was growing up, it was still largely accepted that mothers and fathers were different. They provided for their children differently. They had a unique set of gifts that enabled them to be mothers or fathers. A man could not substitute for a mother, and a woman could not substitute for a father. Even in one-parent households, this truth was still accepted.
I remember the first time that I experienced a one-parent household. I had had a vague understanding of divorce previously- my father had been married before and I had a half-sister, but she lived with us and was only ever my older sister. Divorce had touched my family, but I was blessed to have been raised by a loving mother and father. And then I started first grade.
We had a new student in our class, and I quickly became friends with her. We were cheerleaders together, and we began to spend a lot of our free time together. She came by my house; I went by hers. It wasn’t long before I realized that our home situations were very different. My new friend didn’t live with her mother and father. Her mother was raising her, and she rarely saw her father. Eventually, her mother remarried, but in those first years, it was just my friend and her mom.
During those years, my friend wanted a father. And her mother wanted her daughter to have a father-figure as well. They both understood that there was something unique about men that could not be substituted. My friend’s mother did a wonderful job raising her. She played the roles of both mother and father, but she never tried to be my friend’s father. She took her daughter to all of her sports competitions, and she defended her daughter when refs and umpires made bad calls. When my friend got older, she threatened new boyfriends and warned them to have her daughter home by nine. She did all of the things that my dad did, but she never became my friend’s father. She understood that sex really matters.
Modernity denies this. Modern liberalism tells us that sex doesn’t matter, that we choose our gender. Modernity tells us that the nuclear family is just one alternative among many. Sure, a child can have a mother and a father. She can also have just a mother or just a father. Or he can have two mothers or two fathers. Or really any other combination that can be thought up. Mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and thus strictly unnecessary. You don’t need a mother. You don’t need a father. You just need adults who love you.
Which is true. We all need adults who love us. Love is what enables a child to thrive. But this is all that matters for modernity. As long as the child is being loved by someone, it doesn’t matter who that someone is. According to modern liberalism, sex is irrelevant. According to modernity, mothers and fathers love the same way. You don’t need one if you have the other. Two-parent households are still the preferred condition, but it no longer suggests that these two parents need to be different sexes. It’s just assumed that two loving parents are better than one. Apparently, two mothers or two fathers are just the same as one father and one mother.
In reality, mothers and fathers love their children differently. Because men and women love differently. Children of divorced parents desire a connection with an opposite-sex adult. If they are not loved by their fathers, they seek that paternal love elsewhere. They attach themselves to older brothers and cousins, uncles, or older male family friends. They love their mothers fiercely, but they also recognize that there is something that mothers cannot offer them, that only a man can provide. And their mothers cannot be men.
More recently, the grown children of gay parents are affirming the same thing. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, thousands of these men and women spoke up about their childhoods, confirming that children really do need a father and a mother. They gave very honest accounts of their childhoods, years that were filled with much love, but also much pain. Many of these grown children stressed that they always felt loved by their gay parents (specifically the ones who were biologically unrelated), but there was always a deep longing for an opposite-sex parent. Despite the love that they were being given, these children always felt like something was missing. Despite their parents’ best efforts, they could not replace the mother or father that these children desired, and if we’re going to be honest, needed.
The Supreme Court ignored their testimony. The liberal media never mentioned their stories. Most people weren’t even aware that these people existed. But they do. And they affirm that children really do need mothers and fathers.
No matter how we try to ignore it, the truth of the matter is that children need mothers and fathers. They need the love of both men and women. Little girls relate to their mothers in a unique way, as do little boys with their fathers. Little girls who have no mother look elsewhere for that love. So do little boys. Sometimes, they are lucky, and they find an opposite-sex adult who loves them like their own child. Other times, they end up on a long, dark road as they search for love in all the wrong places. Either way, these children understand intuitively what they are missing.
These children need help, but modernity is incapable of giving it to them. Modern liberalism has already adopted the mentality that children don’t need mothers and fathers. They just need loving parents. The sex of the parents mean nothing, and they have nothing to offer their children as specifically man or woman. Because all you need is love, and love is love, and the love of a mother is exactly the same as the love of a father.
But the denial of sex-linked gender is a two-edged sword, and today’s children are being cut by both sides. They are being told that they do not need a mother and a father, but they are also being told that it does not matter if they are a boy or a girl. Gender is what you choose. Gender is something you create yourself. Twenty years ago, a girl who dressed like a boy and acted like a boy and identified with boys and not girls was called a tomboy. Now she’s labeled as a transsexual. Twenty years ago, a girl playing with trucks was a girl having innocent fun. Now a girl playing with trucks is a boy stuck in a girl’s body. Twenty years ago, that girl would be kept safe through her childhood, eventually becoming a grown woman who might or might not have tomboyish tendencies. Now that girl would be adopted by the transsexual cause, and her parents would be victimized until they put their “son” on hormone-inhibitors or surgically altered their little tomboy. Twenty years ago, gender stereotypes were just gender stereotypes, and like any other rule, children broke them regularly. Now those little boys and girls have become the poster-children for the LGBT cause, and they are posited as obvious evidence that sex doesn’t matter and gender is just a social-construct that doesn’t really exist.
As Andrew and I anxiously wait to learn if we’re having a boy or a girl, the truth becomes more and more obvious. Of course sex matters. It will not change the fact that I will love my child, but it will change how I will love my child. Just as men and women (and boys and girls) love differently, they also need to be shown love differently. If we have a daughter, she will need to be loved differently than if we have a son. If we have a son, he will relate differently to me than he will to his father. We will share a different sort of bond. And that’s okay. Andrew and I are not the same, and it shouldn’t be surprising that we would parent differently. We each have unique gifts to offer as we raise our children together. Together, we will be able to give our children a more well-rounded upbringing than either of us could have done alone. Because children need both a mother and a father. Some children are deprived of this gift, but that doesn’t negate its value. And now Andrew and I are thrilled to be able to give our child, our little son or daughter, this gift.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!