The post-it

I’m a quintessential girly girl.At 38 my favourite colour is still pink. I love spa days, shopping trips and Bridget Jones. When I was little I’d wrap my cat, Fluff (it says it all), up in my dressing gown and wheel it around in my toy pram pretending to be a mummy. If day-dreaming about my future, I would picture myself with a doll-like girl with lots of blonde curls; my very own mini-me. Years later a mature student friend, my university mum, confidently predicted that I’d be a mother of boys. I brushed it off, never really giving it a second thought. We laugh about it now. I didn’t realise that it would be a tribe of boys!

When I was pregnant with bump number one I was adamant that we’d have a surprise. I wanted that movie moment when my husband would announce the sex of our baby and we’d shed tears of happiness. In Geneva we have scans every month so at each appointment I’d kindly remind my obstetrician that we didn’t want to know the sex. By the eighth scan we’d become quite blasé about seeing baby’s tiny toes so my husband hadn’t come with me. As my doctor scanned happily away she was thrown by the baby’s strange position and started to list off what she was seeing.

‘There’s the head. There’s the spine…the bottom…….oh and the testicles…’

I never heard what body part came next. I managed to blurt out: ‘It’s a boy then?’, before dramatically bursting in to tears. The doctor was mortified. ‘Are you disappointed?’ she asked. ‘Er no, I just want didn’t want to find out by you pointing to his testicles!’. But I’m embarrassed to admit that I did feel a hint of sadness. In that second my life plan had been screwed up and thrown out of the window. Up until then my path had been smooth and straight. This swerve off track panicked me. I didn’t know boys but one was growing happily away in my tummy and would soon become the centre of my universe. I met my new antenatal friends for coffee and cake straight after and sat dumbstruck trying to think what he would be like. Of course when he finally made his appearance, 12 days late, I was awash with love for this gorgeous little boy with his blue eyes and hamster cheeks and I wouldn’t swap him for the world. And at least the ‘testicles story’ will be a good one to embarrass him with when he’s older.

With number two we decided to avoid the previous spoiler and found out at the 20 week scan. I was shaking with nerves as it was revealed that this one was most definitely a boy too. I cried. My husband laughed. The sonographer looked on perplexed. My husband’s one of four boys. Of course it was going to be another boy. So when number three came along gulp, I kidded myself it could be a girl this time. My symptoms were different (they were exactly the same). The early 3D scan looked more like a girl (with boy bits).

Everything pointed to a boy but I kept on thinking that there was still a chance it could be a girl. Up to the 20 week scan we went back and forth on whether to find out the sex or not. One last chance to have the movie moment or get our heads around the future dynamics of our family. On the day, with my husband away, I asked the sonographer if she would write it down so we could open together later. A few hours later we danced around with the envelope deciding to open it or not driving my visiting sister crazy. Finally we ripped it open to discover a little inconspicuous post-it with ‘garçon‘ written on it along with a token smiley face.

Fate on a post-it.

Three boys. Trois garçons..ufff! Wow that’s a handful. How do you cope? Aren’t they little terrors? I’m still shocked by the reactions we get from total strangers. Not tempted to try for a girl is the most popular one. Honestly, no. I’m incredibly grateful for my lot. And after the final one was a 10 pounder with no pain relief I’m most definitely not venturing into that territory again. When I found out it was a third boy I scoured the internet for articles on what it would be like to be a mum of three boys. Frantically hoping it was going to be OK, more than OK. My search engine read ‘coping with three boys…do you miss not having a daughter…are boys close to their mums when they leave home?’ like someone would give me the magic answer that life would be perfect. That I wouldn’t be missing out by not having a girl. Now the third and final installment is here and the dynamic trio fill my house with chaos and noise I never question it, in all honesty I don’t have the time. OK I might stroke a little dress or two in John Lewis. But the thing is this is my reality, and I love it.

My boys are energetic, boisterous and physical. Yet they are also sensitive, warm and kind-hearted. They have big mops of hair like their dad and I (hair definitely runs in our family), little skinny bodies that look edible in their pj’s, handsome chin dimples and gorgeous smiles. For the moment at least they think I’m a princess, even when I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. I can’t do anything wrong. They are fiercely protective of me which makes me ooze with pride. Their silly ways make me howl on a daily basis. I recently caught two of them using their dad’s bicycle pump to create some interesting music (I’ll let you use your imagination). I should have been stopping them but I was doubled up laughing, much to the annoyance of the husband. Of course they can be hard work. The screaming levels in our house can reach stratospheric levels, though my yelling has a tendency to reduce them in to fits of giggles. Not quite the desired effect. But name a child under the age of seven who isn’t hard work, none of them are little angels all of the time.

It irks me how little boys often have such a bad reputation. On playdates I’ve often hear mums warn their daughters about boys. ‘You know what boys are like…’ they’ll whisper to them. I can’t help getting defensive of their actions and their spirited personalities. A bit of rough and tumble never did anyone too much harm, as long as they’re not stabbing someone’s eye out of course! Working in a primary school I find myself warming to the cheekiness of the boys and often turn a blind eye to their constant shuffling in the library. Boys can have it tough when they’re young, they deserve a bit of a break.

So that little post-it is now hidden away in our keepsake box. It turned out to the final piece in our jigsaw puzzle. Life with three boys is hectic and exhausting, more often than not I’m on my knees picking out shoes from the toilet bowl (the one year old’s current favourite game) or retrieving mouldy bits of toast buried in the sofa. But it’s never dull. I love seeing glimpses of what the future has in store for us. My seven year old can be funny now, not laugh-at but laugh-with funny. It’s going to be a blast, I’m sure of that…and hopefully they will still call me when they’ve escaped the nest and made their own.

If not I’m going to be the mother-in-law from hell.

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