Mark is pretty excited about our soon-to-arrive daughter. He tells me I should refer to it as her instead of it. But he has trouble understanding why other people are so excited. Today we met with our Russian pediatrician to ask about newborn hospital care. When we told her we were expecting a girl, she said, "Oh, that's so great!"
"Why is that so great?" Mark asked. "Why does everyone say that? What would they say if we said it was a boy - oh, that's too bad?" He seemed to take it as an insult to his manhood. "At River's birthday party we told someone it was a girl and she acted like that was the best thing ever."
"It's nice to have one of each," the pediatrician said. "And everyone knows that the girl will stay with you while the boy gets married and goes off to his wife. I know this from experience, having two daughters."
"Do they stay in close contact with you?" Mark asked.
"Yes, they will call me to tell me they have an earache - at 30 years old."
"Is that how it worked for you?" Mark asked. He knows my brother lives about a mile from my parents, while I am far away. Also, that I tended to bond more with my dad, while my brother got along better with my mom. It's the same in Mark's family. He has a closer relationship with his mom and I think his sister and his dad connect better.
In terms of understanding, I'm prepared for our daughter to be a daddy's girl. I think Mark deserves it, after all the care he has put into River, with not so much reward (River strongly favors mom). I feel like I do understand River perfectly, perhaps in a way that Mark doesn't. And I wouldn't be surprised for the pattern to be reversed with a girl. I think it's too easy to project oneself onto a child of the same sex, which may result in some of the conflicts.
But one thing that makes me very happy about a girl is that I do want to be there when she's pregnant. Whether she ends up being closer to me or to Mark, I'll be her child's grandmother and if I'm still around, I hope I'll be involved in her transition to motherhood. River's wife will probably turn to her own mother first. The possibility exists that River could impregnate someone without us ever knowing, without him ever knowing, and our offspring could exist without us ever being aware. With a daughter, we will know when she bears an offspring, and we will know it carries our genes.
Perhaps it's inconsequential in the big picture. My own brother is adopted, his children are the light of my life after River, so I don't want to overplay genetics. But there is something special about being connected to the ensuing generation, and there is something about a daughter that brings that process closer. I look forward to my daughter becoming a mother more than any other aspect of parenting her. Perhaps this shared sentiment is what inspires the frequent comments we receive - a daughter, how great!