Are you a parent of same-sex children? Two Essential Baby mums tell what life is like in their all-boy and all-girl families ...
Read Jodi's story on her gorgeous all-girl family, or read Jenni's story on her beautiful all-boy family below.
In mid-2008 Essential Baby member Jenni started up a forum discussion for mothers of all-boys. This evolved into a regular buddy group for parents of all-boys. We asked Jenni what life is like living in all-boy household, especially now with a new baby son in the family!
Who's in your family?
Myself - Jenni, 36.
Mum of three beautiful boys. University Lecturer and freelance Graphic Designer.
Many of our friends who have the pigeon pair, are starting to notice that as their children get older, that they lack that ‘bond’ that same gender siblings have.
My wonderful hubby.
Mitchell is very quiet, sensitive and caring. He much prefers the indoors, and things like drawing/art, computers, games and toys, to anything sporty or outdoors. He likes his gumboots to be cleaned before he wears them, and avoids mud and puddles at all costs!
Ashton on the other hand... well he's just two years old, but his personality has certainly changed the dynamics of our household! He's gorgeous and mischievous, charismatic and impulsive. He wrestles his big brother constantly, and if we hear crying, we know that Ashton has picked on big brother yet again!
Caden, 6 weeks
Well, my beautiful 3rd son, Caden George arrived without incident at exactly 5am, Tuesday 19th August. He's been an absolute joy ever since!
Before having children, did you ever imagine which sex or which mix of sexes your children might be?
I was never one to imagine the whole princess wedding and children thing - I was always more focused on career. However, when I met my husband and we started discussing our future, he predicted that we'd have a daughter first. My husband doesn't claim to be a clairvoyant or anything, but I just assumed he'd be right for some reason! When Mitchell popped out it was a complete shock! We fell in love with him instantly, but it was just such a surprise that he wasn't a girl!
Most of the people in our social circle have the pigeon pair, and it almost seemed the expected thing to have the same.
What is the main thing you notice about having an 'all boy' family?
That boys can be soooooo very different! It really irks me that people who have one 'busy' boy in a mixed-gender family, assume that ALL boys are 'busy', loud, dirty and brash. I have three very different boys.
I also notice the sweetness of boys. At Mitchell's first meeting with Caden, Mitchell whispered a proclamation of endless friendship and love into his tiny ear! The afternoon of Caden's birth, Ashton walked into the hospital room and met his brother for the first time. The look of love and amazement on his face I will never forget. My two-year-old tenderly touched his baby brother's hand, bringing tears immediately to my eyes.
Do you find there are benefits to having children of the one sex?
Definitely the obvious... clothes, toys, and movies! Until Ashton starts complaining about the hand-me-downs, we hardly have to buy a thing! I also think it's fantastic for the boys themselves. Despite the innate differences in their personalities, my boys adore each other and really look out for one another (have you ever seen a two-year-old give someone the 'evil eye' when they think their big brother is getting a raw deal?).
Many of our friends who have the pigeon pair, are starting to notice and admit that as their children get older, that they have less and less in common, and lack that 'bond' that same gender siblings have.
I'm from an all-girl family. Particularly as youngest, I never once felt that I was a disappointment to my parents for not being a boy! My childhood was a great example of how complete a same-gender family can be. My mother-in-law too, is an amazing woman. Having raised six boys who have all become wonderful men, she is a great example of how a mother can raise a caring and close all-boy family.
Do you feel that your family is complete now, or are you considering another child in the future?
As of August this year, our number three baby, Caden, is here. Although a surprise baby, it really feels like he was sent to us to complete our family. We have no intentions of having any more.
When pregnant with children subsequent to your first, what kind of comments did you receive from people concerning the sex of your unborn child?
When pregnant with Ashton, I got a lot of comments from friends who had the pigeon pair 'wishing' that I'd have their 'luck' and have one of each too! I'd always counter those comments by saying I would have an 'all boy' family! Hubby is the fifth of six boys, and I am the youngest of three girls, so it made sense for us to have a same-gender family!
I notice that there's a definite 'stigma' associated with having an 'all-boy' family. While pregnant with Ashton and Caden - I'd get rude comments from complete strangers:
"Oh you poor thing!"
"I'm sorry to hear that" (you're pregnant with another boy)!
"I'd hate to be your neighbour!"
(Incidentally, our house has been home to three all-boy families in a row, and the neighbours haven't moved out!)
I'm by no means one to back away, so I always respond with a cutting comment that I'm not impressed, but it used to upset me. Thanks to a friend who sent me a beautiful card about my gorgeous boys and how special they are, I realise that it's the strangers' own perceptions that make them comment that way. They don't know my boys, nor me, so why should I listen to their comments for even one second!
When I discovered I was pregnant this time, I was very upfront that it was a 'surprise', not because the baby wasn't wanted, but because I wanted to make sure people understood that we hadn't been trying for a girl.
You could say I was defensive from the onset! Before anyone could say anything negative at all, I'd say "And yes... it will be another boy!"
When the 19-week scan revealed that he was indeed a boy, I immediately sent a message to all our family and friends saying "Proud to announce that we are adding another boy to our family. Want to tell everyone now so that he receives only positive responses at birth!"
That's worked a treat, and I've really received some lovely wishes and thoughts from people. The only person who continued to comment that he wished it were a girl while I was pregnant is my pop. But at age 95, I figure I'll let him get away with that!
So, what is life like on a daily basis with your beautiful boys?
Probably much the same as a mixed-sex family. As I've said, Mitchell is not a rough and tumble boy in the slightest. In fact raised voices and loud noises upset him, so if we have to chastise his younger brother, we have to be very aware of Mitchell and how he is handling it. Usually Ashton ends up running away laughing and we end up having to console an upset Mitchell! So, in that sense, our house is a quiet one. It's not full of mud or noise like you'd probably expect an all-boy family to be like! As yet anyway, maybe you should ask me again in a couple of years time. Now, with little Caden on the scene, I'm at the stage of trying to re-establish a family routine.
What prompted you to start Essential Baby's first group for all-boy families?
Very selfish reasons to be honest. As I've mentioned, most of my friends in real life have the 'socially ideal' pigeon pair, and so I really wanted to be comfortable amidst people who knew exactly how I feel, with no pity, condescension or negativity. I have been ecstatic about how the group has taken off. There are so many beautiful women on Essential Baby who happen to be mums of all-boys. Although I adore and cherish my boys, the group has really helped me to appreciate them even more, and I didn't think that would be possible.