Why are they who they are?

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January 18, 2013 by Melissa


ImageSo we found out this week that we are having another baby girl! We’ll be a family with three daughters, three sisters. It really is wonderful to think about all that that entails and we know  quite a few three girl families who have been generous with their advice, their warnings, their own love/hate experience with this specific dynamic. I was talking to my OB yesterday about it. She has three boys and loves that each of them is so different from the others. I like that we’ll not be able to pin any differences on gender but on who they are. While I’m not naive enough to think that there are no gender differences (there are, in fact, quite a few strong ones) but I do think people tend to pin too much on gender. It is, actually, a pet peeve of mine. It may be a strong feminist instinct in me. Or maybe it’s that I grew up with two brothers and was always wanting to prove that I could do what they could do, just as well. Who knows. But I feel my fists clench when I hear people say, “well, he’s a boy and she’s a girl,” as if that is all there is to it. Grrr.

The two girls I have now are already so different from one another and I’m so curious to see how Sally (#3) will be. How she’ll differ and how she’ll be similar and how she’ll be her own person. 

It IS hard not to compare and contrast. Is any parent able to overcome that? I’m constantly finding myself placing my girls in boxes. Lucy is physically tentative. Alice is more adventurous. Lucy hates playing by herself. Alice does it happily. Alice is our animal lover. Lucy is socially fearless. I do it all day and I hate that I do. Is it our nature to compartmentalize and categorize? While I’m aware of it, how do I stop it? I also am realizing that when I’m around other parents and our kids are around, I have talked about them like this. I know Lucy hears me as she hears everything I say (unless I’m speaking directly to her, asking her to help clean up her mess). What is she internalizing about herself? Am I setting her up for a lifetime of thinking only one way about herself? 

I’m also aware of the role that birth order plays in certain characteristics and that, I’m discovering, is pretty convincing. After all, I can’t mother each of these girls the same. Alice doesn’t have my undivided attention like Lucy did. Alice tends to explore a lot on her own while Lucy was really dependent on my guidance. Is it due to birth order? Alice also has an older sister to copy and learn from. Is that the reason? It is fascinating to watch them develop and become people with distinct personalities and try to figure out why. And now we’ll have another wonderful daughter to figure out…and put in a box of her own 🙂

Can’t wait to meet you Sally Jane…


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