I'm going to say this now and then I am going to put it away in a box and try to move on from it. So here goes:
I achingly long for a daughter.
Let me be absolutely clear about this; I would not change my sons for anything. I would not trade either of them for a daughter. To live without ever having known one or the other is an utterly intolerable notion. Despite remembering with cold clarity how sickeningly disappointed I was to hear "you're having a boy" at the anomaly scan of my second pregnancy, if someone offered me the chance to go back in time and swap that boy for a girl I would not take it. I cannot imagine what life would be without, specifically, him. But if there had been a guarantee after I had Baby Taylor that my next child would be a girl, I would not have hesitated for a second.
For as long as I can remember, I have imagined having a daughter. I assumed, perhaps arrogantly and surely as most women do, that a daughter was in my future. As a teenager, I kept a journal called "Dear Adelaide". It was a comprehensive account of my daily errors, a volume I one day hoped to hand to my daughter - who, at that time, would have been called Adelaide - with the words "learn from my mistakes before you go out and start making your own." I still have that journal, packed away in a box in the loft. And my daughter is no more a reality now than she was back then.
The mother/daughter bond is a slight variation on the father/son bond. Children tend to gravitate towards the parent whose gender is the same as their own as they get older. I'm trying not to stereotype here because I don't believe that people fit into boxes based on their genitalia, and I certainly encourage my sons to be whoever they are without my judgement. They're free to wear whatever they want and play with whatever they want. For example, Toddler Taylor enjoys playing with cars and trains. He doesn't have much grasp of the word "gentle" and nurturing is not his bag at all. But Baby Taylor is a very gentle soul. He likes to cuddle his teddy bears and stroke their fur, and he will often climb into my lap for a snuggle. He likes to play with toys that sing and play music. They are people. They are individuals. They are different from each other in so many ways.
I love my sons and I know they love me. Neither of those facts are in question. But I do not want them to ever worship me. I do not want them to put me on a pedestal upon which I will never belong. I especially do not want them to compare any women they meet in the future to me. I'd like them to call or visit every once in a while when they're grown up and have left home. I'd like them to bring their girlfriends or boyfriends to meet me, but I don't want them to care what my opinions of their partners are. I don't expect them to want to go on lunch dates with me or meet me to go shopping.
The thing is, all of that would still be true if I had a daughter, but at the same time I would hope that I could have had the same relationship with a daughter as I do with my own mom. She and I talk on the phone most nights. We meet up to go do things together. When she's sick, I buy her medicine and take it round to her house for her. She is my best friend and most trusted confidante. She provided me with the tools to become my own person and not be afraid of being exactly who and what I am. And, possibly most importantly, if I have the opportunity I will be there to hold her hand and tell her that I love her when she makes her final journey from this world. To me, all of these things are synonymous with what it means to be a daughter.
In March my gran passed away. My mom sat on one side of the bed holding one hand while I sat at the other side holding the other hand. Three generations of women who truly and honestly knew what it was to love each other. The next morning I realised that there might not be anyone to hold my hand when it's my turn. My sons might be far away. They may not feel as though they have enough of a connection with me to want to be there. I know it's not a guarantee that a daughter would want to be there either, but I feel like maybe she would if she felt the same way about me that I do about my mom.
I hope that my sons are close to their dad. I hope they go to football matches or movies with him. I hope they look up to him and try to emulate him in some ways. I hope they call in to see him when he's older and retired. And I hope that they have a normal, healthy relationship with me too. I hope, more than anything else, that just every so often they'll give me a cuddle.
Please do not mistake this longing for being simply ungrateful; I know only too well how blessed I am to have the beautiful, wonderful children that I do. To be a mother is a privilege and an experience for which I am endlessly thankful. There is only this; that sometimes I feel the lack of a daughter acutely. Sometimes it is hard to accept that what I always imagined for myself is something that I will never have. It does not negate my love for my sons in any way, but it would be insincere for me not to admit to this feeling that closes in on me just every now and again.
Surely that's okay?