Today, I am days away from meeting my new son face-to-face. It’s an exciting – and slightly scary – time for me, this whole business of being born. My pregnancy has flown by, and I can’t wait to see what it will be like for my daughter to have a little brother here on the “outside” to play with!
There has been one thing I’ve thought about ever since finding out that our second child is a boy. According to many in America, my husband and I now have the “perfect children” – one girl and one boy. Multiple times, when I’ve told people that we’re expecting a boy, they say things like, “Oh, how perfect!” “Oh, one of each!” You know, the kind of sentences that imply that my son would be less exciting or less “perfect” if he had an older brother instead of a sister, or if he was my fourth child instead of my second.
Believe me, I appreciate people’s shared excitement. I enjoy seeing them celebrating the news of my son with me. And I’m thrilled to be having a son. Indeed, for my husband and me, one girl and one boy right now is perfect. But it’s perfect because these two precious children are what we have been given.
I can’t help but think, in my contemplations, that my sister-in-law’s two daughters are just as perfect. My husband’s friend has four kids, two of each, and they’re perfect, too. Two of my friends have one son each. Four of my friends came from families with five and eight children. One was an only child. One was born so premature that she was missing a part of her brain. My brother married a fifth child. And each one of these children was and is equally valuable.
How and why do so many in society define perfection based on gender and number – or even on the absence of defects?
Abortion – the cruel killing of an innocent – is the ultimate in rejection of children. It is one of the chief ways society says that children do not have inherent value, just because they exist. But sometimes, it’s necessary to evaluate our culture in deeper, less obvious ways. Have we bought into any of the lies or partial truths that contribute to the devaluing of children and of human life in general?
Do we have our own image of what “perfect children” are – whether it’s one boy and one girl or another image entirely? Do we secretly shake our heads at that family in church who always has a line of six or seven kids following behind Mom or Dad? Do we wonder why the couple we just met didn’t stop after three boys instead of adding a fourth? Do we think the parents of the baby who has Down syndrome or spina bifida are raising a child we could never deal with? Do we dread the arrival of an “extra” child we didn’t plan for? Do we, like the lady I just met at a garage sale, openly admit that the reason we got stuck with multiple girls is because we kept trying for that ever-elusive boy? He would have made our family “perfect,” after all. And the girl who was sent in his place can never be quite good enough.
We have to face the facts that it isn’t just abortion supporters who have these views on children and families. It’s pro-lifers, too. Those of us who believe with all of our hearts that every child has the right to live still don’t always value every child equally. We don’t always welcome every child with the same joy with which we welcome another. And if we want to change our culture, we must do an abrupt about-face. Value and equality must be inherent in the fact that a child is a child – that a human being is a human being.
Am I excited that my almost-born son is a boy? Absolutely! I’m thrilled. Do I think he’s perfect, just the way he is? You betcha. But would his impending birth be any less cause for excitement if he were our fourth daughter instead? Would he be any less perfect if he had been diagnosed with a birth defect or a disease? Nope. He’d be just as perfect, just as valuable, and just as welcome in our family no matter what gender or child number he was and no matter what defect he had.
It’s the fact that he is a brand new human life that makes him valuable. None of these other silly measurements ought to count at all.