It seems today, according to Facebook, is National Daughters Day. I am not even sure it is a real holiday, but each year the world of Facebook is hell-bent on reminding me of every person in my friend’s list that has received or birthed a child with a vagina, but me.
If I sound a little salty, it is because I am. I mean I can French braid for Christ’s sake. How do I not have a daughter or a sister, for that matter.
When I was a little girl and would screech to my parents “But I want it!”, they would without fail, begin singing the Rolling Stones “You can’t always get what you wa-ant.”
When my cousin’s daughter was born deaf, we never spoke of all the sounds I already knew she worried her daughter would never hear. A bird chirping, the crescendo in a song ultimately leading to the emotional understanding of a listener, or the possibility of her daughter never hearing her own mother’s voice. I wasn’t alone in this avoidance, most people skirted around these topics.
But there were always the people who seemed genuinely clueless and maybe it was meant as an attempt to comfort, but the phrase that would always irritate me was “You don’t miss, what you don’t have.”
Fortunately, my cousin’s daughter was a candidate to receive Cochlear ear implants when she was young and is able to hear the sound of her mother’s voice. But what if she had never been able to hear her entire life? I am not sure she still wouldn’t have missed the idea of hearing because the understanding that those around her did hear would never be muted. She still would have understood that although she had never experienced sound, those around her did. That there was an entire level of communication that she was not privy to. An entire sense that she would never experience. Never hearing a sound would not necessarily equal never wanting to hear a sound nor negate her longing to hear.
Most people always assumed my desire for a daughter was simply filled with dreams of ballet slippers, leotards, glitter, and pink tutus. Don’t get me wrong, those definitely would have provided a much-needed break from urine splattered toilet seats, stinky cleats, and athletic cups left on my kitchen island, but I was never looking to fulfill some fairytale dream of holding my very own real-life daughter baby doll.
My grandmother always understood how it ran much deeper than lacey dresses and pretty hair ribbon. It had nothing to do with disappointment or an ungratefulness for mothering sons. It was about the lost opportunity to become the mother we had both longed for. To right the wrong that had been handed to us in an effort to tip the mothering scale in our favor. To prove that good mothers didn’t always come from perfect mothers. To raise a daughter the way we had both desperately wished we had been raised.
I love my sons and I cannot imagine a life of mine where each and every one of them doesn’t exist in it. There is simply a very different dynamic provided by having a daughter. Perhaps a daughter life would be nothing like I have always pictured it to be. Perhaps I am like a person who is deaf and misses the sound of laughter because they can still see it and understands it exists for others, just not for them. Perhaps, one day I will be like my cousin’s daughter, who was so overwhelmed by sound when she received her cochlear ear implants, she used to try to throw them out of the car window from the backseat, while my cousin was driving. And now, now I watch videos of her singing and dancing, to the music she almost never heard.
I also understand that my sons are on loan to me. Of course, I will always be their mother and that will never change. I am the most important woman in their lives, for now. However, one day, in a future that seems to be approaching at lightning speed, I will pass the torch 3 times to each of their wives. And if I have done my job correctly, she will become the most important woman in each of their lives. She will become their support and the one they will seek out for advice and comfort. Still, my hope is that one day, she will smile at me in a way that says “thanks for raising such a good man,”, even if he never did learn to lift the toilet seat up and still leaves dishes in the sink. More than that, I hope she will understand that when I handed her that torch, I also handed over the very piece of my heart that ignited that flame, three times.
My soul sister and I have 7 boys between the two of us and they each fill us up in ways we never dreamed. Our cup runneth over with love and worry and how did we ever endure life without them. (a bit quieter, I imagine) Still, every single one of those 7 pregnancies, we prayed for one of us to have a girl. It didn’t matter which one of us, because the best friends in life are the ones that still want you to listen and dance to the music, even if they cannot hear it.
A few months ago, I picked up my son from baseball practice, and on the car ride home I asked him, as I always do, how practice was. He said it went well and he had worked with the pitching coach this practice and that the pitching coach was impressed with his changeup and wanted to know who showed him the grip.
“My mom did”, he said
And I thought about that Rolling Stones song. The one my parents used to sing to me when I was a little girl and how when I was a bit older, I heard that song on the radio and realized there were additional lyrics.
“You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometime you find, you get what you need”
Because sometimes, it takes a little longer for the music to reach your ears.