When I was pregnant with my third child, before we knew the sex of the baby, my boys, ages five and eight, came to me and said, Mom, we hope the baby is a girl. That way you’ll have someone to hang out with you.
My initial reaction was that’s so sweet! Only a week before, my eight-year-old wanted a sister because all of his friends have sisters, and my five-year-old wanted a brother so that it can be a two-on-two match-up for hockey games with their dad. Both of these reasons seemed harmless and appropriately self-centered for young kids. One wants what his friends have, and the other wants something to make his games more fun. So when the boys said they wanted a girl so I’LL have someone to hang out with, I was impressed. They were thinking beyond themselves, displaying sensitivity for the rest of their family and wishing something for someone else – for me nonetheless! Maybe the day-to-day craziness of our family life was actually building to something more after all. Hallelujah!
But hold on… why aren’t THEY going to hang out with me anymore???
This stirred a range of emotions from uncomfortable to downright furious. As the boys get older, one headed to overnight camp for the first time and the other entering kindergarten, I recognized that our time together has decreased and changed drastically. Yet their ease at delegating the job of “hanging out with mom” to their new sibling put me on edge.
Later that week, my husband brought home tickets to a Detroit Tigers game. I was 37 weeks pregnant, and it was a humid, 88-degree day. Despite the obvious reasons for staying home – huge belly, hot sun, big stadium – my determination to remain relevant in the boys’ lives won, and I went to the game.
I lasted one inning at the seats and ended up at the air-conditioned bar. As I sat alone, red-faced with ice pressed to my forehead (not to mention looking ridiculous and hearing my doctor’s voice in my head asking if I had lost my mind), I realized the boys didn’t care where I was. I realized what I had done was selfish. I had gone to the game for ME – to prove something to myself that I could still hang with the boys. I wanted to show that I was strong enough, even at 8.5 months pregnant, to get out there, and wise enough to take advantage of my relative freedom before diapers, nursing, and no sleep. I realized that my grand gesture of schlepping to the game was a superficial show of my dedication to the boys.
The boys, however, showed their dedication to me perfectly. During the seventh -inning stretch they brought me water, gave me hugs, and told me about the ball they almost caught and the cotton candy they ate. It was this small moment that reminded me that our family’s bond isn’t measured in ball games. It’s measured in something subtler and sweeter.
The wisdom in the boys’ simple words, which had been masked by my own insecurity, became clear to me. They were, indeed, being incredibly sweet by wanting me to have company with a little girl. Our bond depends less on how much time we spend together and more on how we show we care about each other. Plus, I never last at the Tigers game after my nachos are gone anyway!
Missy Borman is a Pittsburgh native who lives in suburban Detroit with her husband and three young kids, Oscar, Lucas, and Eve. She has spent over a decade teaching a variety of grades from preschool to high school. In her free time (as if!) she enjoys cooking, reading, and watching sports with her kids.