If Thing Two had been a girl, I doubt that we'd have had three children, me not having the right sort of temperament (or sufficient patience) for a houseful of kids. But I really did want a girl, and so we decided to try one last time when Thing Two was a toddler. Whatever we got, we'd be done...to paraphrase Bill Cosby, we have three children because we did not want four.
That last pregnancy was different from the others almost from the outset. I had no morning sickness with either boy. Zip. Zero. Easiest pregnancies ever. The third time around, I was queasy all day except from about 10AM to 4PM. I looked at Himself one day early on and said "This one's my girl. No doubt." Himself, who would have been perfectly happy with three boys (not for any misogynistic reason, merely because he is the ultimate in protective fathers) was in the deepest of denial until the 20-week ultrasound, which confirmed my suspicions. He has been more or less panicked about her safety, well-being and interactions with boys ever since. He was not at all amused by her recent 'engagement.'
And because God has a sense of humor, she is her father's clone, too, in appearance and disposition and habits. She has his foot speed and soccer skill and facial expressions and practical intelligence and puzzle solving ability, and also his tendency to sing the same snatch of song over and over and over and OVER until the rest of us are ready to scream. They are so much alike that they will doubtless butt heads constantly when she gets to high school, if my own father and brother (likewise clones) are anything to go by.
But no matter how much she may be like her father, she is still my girl. She wants to keep me company and do what I do and sit on my lap for hugs and help me whenever she can. I was thinking about this today as I was starting preparations for tonight's dinner. I was in the kitchen getting the beef stew ingredients ready to go into the crockpot: chopping vegetables, browning beef chunks, making the gravy. All with her cheerfully perched on a chair beside me, watching what I was doing, asking questions and doing whatever she was able to do to help. She's too young to be let loose with knife or stovetop yet, but she mixes and pours and stirs things and fetches ingredients and puts dirty utensils into the sink. After the stew was put on to cook, she painted the garlic butter onto the sliced loaf of bread, now ready for the oven. I am under orders not to prepare the salad or the brie in pastry for the hors d'oeuvres until she gets back from soccer practice around lunchtime, because she wants to help with those too.
When I was a little girl, I learned to cook the same way: on a chair next to my mother (and sometimes my grandmother as well.) Love is a language often transmitted in food in my family...all the special family recipes and even the day-to-day ones. The link is the time spent together with loved ones in the kitchen. As I looked at my daughter's little face beside me this morning, my view shifted to myself learning at the side of my own mother, as I did so many times as a child.
I love my sons dearly. I wouldn't trade either of them for their weight in diamonds or gold, and they are beyond precious to me. But deep in my heart, where the quiet wishes and prayers live, I wish for my daughter to have a little girl of her own someday, one just like her.