We went to the library today. I would normally have Isaac in the stroller, and carry Sebastian on me in my Ergo, for outings like the library, but lately Isaac has been showing me he can handle walking with the big guys. So that's how we were: Baby in stroller, entourage of men-in-the-making, and me in the middle.
The boys were really good. Everyone behaved while we made our rounds, and we were just about to leave when I remembered I had to make a stop at the front desk for some audio holds. The librarian looked up from her computer as we approached, and smiled. She asked, "Do you have three boys and a girl, or do you have four boys?" She had decided Sebastian could be either one in his little blue romper, and had missed altogether two of the older boys who who were standing off to the side. I smiled back and said, "I have six boys", and waited for the reaction.
Mostly it's the same. They usually smile, even as their mouths drop open. There's some question of disbelief as they discern whether I am serious or not. Then the turning of interior gears is almost audible as they try to decide which is more astonishing: The fact that I have six children, or the fact that they are all boys. Once they digest all of that for a second, there's almost always an exclamation of sympathy of some sort. "Oh you poor woman!" is probably the most common. Today the librarian used the word "bombarded", as though I'm the victim of some random act of violence. Really, it's okay, I do understand why people are so intrigued by us, we are an unusual family by today's standards. I just wish they'd take a second to think, before they blurt things out in front of my children.
As we walked out of the library, we passed a mother and daughter reading a book together. The little girl was sitting on her mom's lap, completely engrossed in something with a very pink and sparkly cover. I looked up and saw three of my boys scaling the cement wall that lines the walkway, and two more calling back to me from the fountain ahead, "They should put fish in this thing!" I glanced back at that woman with her little girl, obliviously enjoying that book, and thought how different our lives must be.
Not better or worse. Just different.
And that's where I struggle the most with relating to the general public. It doesn't matter to me how many people feel sorry for me that I'm "stuck with" all these boys, I know they're wrong. They'll never convince me that I should be upset about what God has given me. I just couldn't be.
But when I'm asked if I want a daughter, the answer doesn't come easily. I feel like if I say yes, people will take that as a confirmation of their suspicions that that's the only reason I have so many children - we keep trying for a girl and just keep getting boys. However, I can't honestly say no, because of course I'd love to have a daughter! In addition to my sons, of course, not instead of.
If I thought they'd understand, I'd put it like this: I want to have a daughter, the way a young girl wants to have a husband. When I think of my future, I can picture a daughter in it. I sometimes smile at the thought, and feel the sweetness of anticipation, at what that might be like someday. I think of the things we'll do together, and I love her already.
I don't feel a void though. I don't have the sense that I've been deprived of something, any more than a young girl would feel something was missing because she doesn't have a husband yet. It's a possibility to look forward to, not something to demand or expect.
And you know what else makes me happy? The thought of having nothing but an army of boys. I'll take ten more, if God will send them to me, and I'll love them with a heart bursting with gratitude. I would gladly accept the joy of knowing that He thought me worthy of such a unique life.
I know that if God wants me to be the mother of a girl, then it will happen that way. And that's good enough for me.