Girl Power

You've Got Three Girls?

I do, and I think you should be jealous.

Originally Published: 

When I was pregnant with my third child, it was pretty impossible for people to see a giant pregnant belly and not ask, “Boy or girl?” with their fingers pointing at my middle, as if I might mistakenly think that the baby was really growing out of my head. But I loved it so much. I loved telling them that not only was this baby a girl, but it was my third girl.

“Like a Jane Austen novel,” my best friend told me when she found out, and I beamed. “A little boy would be great,” one friend told me, “but three little girls? That’s kind of the dream.” I saw three twin beds with lacy duvets all in a row, I saw three girls standing side-by-side, one of them a bride, the other two in matching maids of honor dresses. I saw a lifetime of trying on clothes in dressing rooms, of breaking up fights over the hair dryer, of hand-me-downs and Barbies and saying “the girls, my girls” over and over.

What I did not see in my rose-colored crystal ball of sugar and spice and everything nice was just how many people would act like I just told them I had a terminal illness when I said, “Yes, I have three daughters.”

I knew people’s first reaction would be some mixture of shock and surprise. I mean, it was mine and my husband’s first reaction, too. Like, what are the odds of having three daughters in a row? When we had the ultrasound and discovered that our daughter was, in fact, our daughter, my husband grinned. “It feels so special,” he said. “I don’t know any other family with three girls.” I agreed, and his genuine delight in forever being a #GirlDad was my favorite part about finding out we were having another little woman. And then he made some quip about how it was a damn good thing we weren’t living in Tudor times or he would’ve had to behead me by now and I was like, yeah, thanks, you’re right, that’s really great.

People apologize to my husband, ask him when he’s going to have a son, tell him to get a dog instead, encourage him to build a shed in the backyard so he can hide from all of us.

But once the shock of hearing “three girls” fades, what follows is pretty much an avalanche of choice phrases like, “Oh, God bless you” or “OMG, that’s a lot of weddings to pay for” or “I think I’d just have to kill myself instead.”

I know people think they’re being funny. Ha ha! You’re right! Three girls is just going to be crazy! I know that families with only sons hear the same kind of stuff. But, as a girl myself, knowing just how hard success and safety and, hell, rights to your own body, can be when you’re a girl, it’s irritating — infuriating — to listen to all these oh-so-funny comments. People apologize to my husband, ask him when he’s going to have a son, tell him to get a dog instead, encourage him to build a shed in the backyard so he can hide from all of us.

I call this photo, “The Coven.”
Girl power is a very real thing.
I think everything can be solved with three sisters.

They tell me to “just wait” because it’s cute now but it won’t always be and they tell me that girls are just manipulative and mean and they’ll stab each other in the back. They warn me that teenage girls are pure hell, that they lie, that they’re dramatic, that they’re too emotional. They tell me all of these things as if I was not once a teenage girl who wasn’t taken seriously by so many, as if I was not a grown woman with a daughter who voted for a female president and watched in agony as that candidate lost to a unqualified buffoon after years of hearing she was a cold-hearted, manipulative bitch instead of the strong, successful, capable woman she is.

Women — other mothers — tell me how easy their sons are. How their sons love them, but their daughters? “Get ready,” they tell me. “You’ll have three of them screaming, ‘I hate you!’ in a few years.”

Girl power is a very, very real thing.

They jump on every stereotype of little girls and teenage girls and young adult girls that there is. They tell me how expensive prom season will be and that they’ll love swiping Daddy’s credit card and that my husband will have to polish a shotgun at the kitchen table when they get picked up for dates. They talk about having daughters as if it’s just going to be a storm, and the eye of the storm is nothing but tears and money flying down the drain and screaming.

And the worst part? They tell me all of these things with my three girls right there, listening.

They think they’re being funny. But they don’t know that the dynamic they’re mocking, the situation that they think will have my husband building himself an underground bomb shelter when our girls are each 16 and 12 and 9, is actually magical. Entire books have been written about families of daughters, and the bond of sisters — specifically three — can be found throughout literature and pop culture and history. Girl power is a very, very real thing.

Like my husband said on the day we found out we would forever be a family with three daughters, it is so special. And the fact that so many people have nothing but negative things to say, that they can only share an opinion on how terrible it will be to have three daughters, speaks a lot about not just our culture, but our world, and how so many people hold beliefs that would probably surprise them to really face. Microagressions on women — tiny, subtle thoughts that maybe women aren’t as smart or as strong or as capable as men, beliefs that are so small and insidious people don’t even realize how ingrained they are.

It’s not that boys are more valued in this world or that people still have deep feelings about “carrying on a family name” by producing a bunch of XY chromosomes as heirs. It’s that we have a world where women are still not treated equally, where we still have to fight to prove ourselves, where we still have to tone down our anger so we aren’t labeled as bitches, but we also have to tone down our joy so we aren’t labeled as ditzes. Where Rihanna can take the stage for a Super Bowl Halftime Show, suspended in the air on floating stages, singing through an incredible body of work that spans decades, and everyone spends the entire time trying to guess if she’s pregnant or just “carrying some extra baby weight.” Where Madonna’s face is so scrutinized at the Grammys that she has to publicly tell everyone she’s not sorry for the way she looks (!!). Where we now spend a good chunk of our time cringing at the way we treated teenagers like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan in the early 2000s, but still judge their looks; where we look back at Pamela Anderson owning her sexuality through the ‘90s — the same sexuality people mention to my husband, assuring him that having daughters who date will be a “nightmare” — but all we could do was call her a slut.

In a world where, from the moment someone finds out you are pregnant with a daughter, they tell you to get ready for all the crying and misery to come.

But you know, a whole lot of “dramatic” and “emotional” women have changed the world for the better. And I’m beyond thrilled to raise and empower three little women who will always know that their parents loved them and believed in them and always, always thought they were the best little things in the world. The best gifts.

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