A few days ago, my husband and I went to my doctor’s office to find out the gender of our fourth child.
I told myself that no matter what, I would be excited. If it were a girl (finally!) I would be able to have the sweet daughter I’d dreamed about for years. I would be able to give my boys a little sister, someone that would soften them up and teach them compassion and respect. I would be able to buy Barbies, yellow dresses and decorate the nursery in butterflies and flowers. I would put her in ballet lessons and cheer loudly from the stage as she walked tip-toed across the floor in her tiny pink tutu. I would have to learn how to do a little girl's hair. (Elsa braids? Are you kidding me?)
But I’ve always said I wanted to be a mom to all boys. If my wish came true, I would add another buddy to the BAM (Brothers Against Mothers) crew. I wouldn’t have to buy more toys or new crib sheets or re-do the nursery. We would be the camping, fishing, Scouting, tennis-playing, outdoorsy family that scrubbed up well for Sunday in starched white shirts and bowties, but was a little rough and tumble during the week. My husband would certainly have his hands full during fathers and sons campouts, and I would get a weekend of peace and quiet all to myself.
Either way, life would lead us in the direction we needed, so I happily laid down on the little reclining chair in the office as my OB slathered that freezing blue gel all over my stomach. Pretty soon, a fuzzy image showed up on the screen in front of us, and before we could say “Is that a…,” my doc smiled and said, “Well, it looks like you’re consistent!”
“No way,” my husband said. “It’s another boy?”
“Looks like it to me,” the doctor said, and printed us out some pictures confirming it.
Now someday my little boy may read this. And if he does, I want him to know that I wanted him. Exactly him. As he is. A boy. A wonderful, sweet, exuberant, curious, strong-willed boy.
So when I say I cried, it’s not because I was disappointed. I was surprised. I mourned not for the baby I had, but perhaps for the baby I might not ever have. Butterflies, dresses, dolls and little dances were perhaps not going to be a part of my future, as they have been my past. And that was a little difficult for me to accept.
But I believe that this little boy wanted to come to our family. Maybe he saw his brothers giggling in the bathtub as they crashed their cars into the bubbles and said, “I want to be with them!” Maybe he saw my husband and I desperately trying to teach our boys how to be righteous young men, how to stand for truth and goodness, how to serve and love others, and said, “I want to belong to them.” Or maybe it was watching the rousing games of “Duck Duck Goose” where we all chase each other, regardless of who gets “goosed,” that made up his mind.
After telling our friends and family the news, I came across an article online that touched my heart. Titled “9 truths ‘moms of boys only’ need to know,” by psychotherapist and author Abby Rodman, the article gives several completely relevant observations that had me laughing, crying and nodding in agreement.
“I have three sons and zero daughters,” Rodman writes. “When my boys were small, I would hear the question, 'Are you going to keep trying for a girl?' until I thought my head would explode.” (Me, too!) “Some folks seemed affronted when I would tell them I was done having kids. As if, by having only sons, I was somehow disrupting the natural order of the universe. But, with the insight of years behind me, I now appreciate the irrepressible beauty, advantages and challenges of being the mother of just sons.”
Some of those challenges and advantages include being your boys’ first love, not having to deal with “girl drama” and trying to control the volume of your voice as you raise them.
“I yelled. A lot,” Rodman admits. “My sons were very close in age and were high on energy and hijinks — while I was low on patience. I wish I'd given myself more timeouts to gather my wits.”
But Rodman encourages moms like to me to accept the challenge of raising all boys.
“Raising good men is a wonderful and honorable thing. Men who are gentle, kind and nurturing. Men who treat women and children well. Men who will make loving, devoted husbands. This is an overwhelming responsibility, but you are up to the task. You've been given this amazing opportunity. Enjoy it. Own it. And reap the rewards.”
I am truly honored and thrilled to add another boy to our brood. I hope I can be the kind of mother he will look up to and create the type of loving environment he will always want to come home to.
I love you already, son. Welcome to the family.
I hope you like it loud and lively.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.