Today is our anniversary. Seven years ago today, I married the only other person I could imagine putting up with on a daily basis. Of course, at the time, I had no idea I would rarely actually see him on a daily basis. I had no idea that our careers would go the way they have, that our lives would bend sideways and my intense career focus would get sidelined for his growing ambitions. We had no inkling that I would end up home with children while he spent nights in hotels.
What we did know was that we wanted two children. We had no idea how complicated accomplishing said children would be or the strength our relationship would need to survive fertility treatment in the face of constant absences from one another. Nor did we quite gather the strain the compromises of life would put on us. But we did know we were best friends and that we could do it together.
And, did I mention we knew we wanted two children? Well, four months ago, J was obviously home for a few minutes, because now it appears we are having a third child. And today, on our anniversary, I will be going in for the ultrasound.
J has never made one of these little appointments. I go on my own and call him from the car. “Yes, the baby looks healthy… No, there is no cleft-palate… Yes, it’s a boy.” I don’t really care that he misses the ultrasounds. We both feel that it is more important that he be there after the birth, and, amazingly, despite his absurd work life, he really is. Our sons are strongly attached to him, and they see him a lot more than they really ought to, given the call of his work. There are fallow stretches, times when work lets up and he is home every night for bath. There are weekends and there are holidays (although he is yet again cutting a three-day weekend short to travel next week). And we both agree that the top priority is family time.
We agree on a lot about parenting, J and I. We agree that kids need structure and routine. We agree that we need to say “no” to useless crap and “yes” to books. We agree that education is the most important investment we can make.
And, we agree that dresses are not necessary for little girls. Although J has less of an objection than I do, we are in agreement that if this one turns out to defy the odds and confirm her brother’s suspicions, she will operate under the same policy as her brothers: you get a dress when you are old enough to ask for one. In the meantime, they are a hindrance to crawling and climbing, and we will return any we get as gifts.
I know I am in the minority on this one, and even my husband feels it much less passionately than I do. But I maintain that the only reason to put a little girl in a dress is to gender her. We all know they are much less convenient to the business of childhood, and I know no grown woman who would go rock climbing in tights and a dress, yet we expect little girls to climb the jungle gym in just such attire. Sure, when she is two or three, she may begin requesting dresses, and then I will be happy to oblige, just as I was with her older brother’s clothing requests.
In the meantime, girl or boy, this child will play with cars, dolls, trucks, stuffed animals, musical instruments, and, it goes without saying in our house, trains. We will read books about two princes who fall in love and caterpillars who eat chocolate cake. And, the kid will wear pants, because a girl spends 90 some years of her life conforming to gender standards and she deserves two years off at the start.
Today, I will call J to wish him happy anniversary and hopefully to tell him that the baby looks healthy (touch wood). I also will let him know whether we need to figure out another boy name, because we do tend to conform to gender standards when it comes to names, hypocrites that we are. And, four months from now, we will get a chance to learn whether this particular event actually plays out the way we expected it to or whether, like everything else, we can only predict our lives so much.