Six months ago, I gave birth to a baby girl. She is the light of our home and her bright face makes our hearts melt. She also has two older brothers who are absolutely in love with her. After giving birth to two boys, it's no surprise that I really wanted a girl the third time around. And by the grace of God, I got her. I've had so much love and support these last few months and for the first time ever, there is pink all over my house! I absolutely love it.
There is however one thing that irks me like nothing else since she's come along. After giving birth to two boys, and now a girl, amidst all the love, presents and congratulations, I hear one comment now and again that drives me nuts.
Often enough, someone (always South Asian) will come over or call and send me their well wishes. Then they're sure to add 'Your family is now complete!'. They say it in English, in Urdu, in Hindi or in Punjabi.
'Ab tumari familee complete ho gayee hai'.
I finally sat down and tried to understand exactly what that meant. What they are saying essentially is that before my daughter came along, my family was incomplete? Because my two wonderful, vivacious and healthy boys don't complete a family? I certainly didn't feel incomplete. I felt blessed, SO blessed. And privileged enough to be able to give birth, considering what some of my friends are going through even trying to get pregnant.
I once asked someone what they meant by that and they tried to explain to me that a family is complete when there is one child of each sex in it. Sure, I get the meaning... but this is really a thing? It's common etiquette to tell people their family is complete? So my friends who only have children of one sex are in essence not completely whole?
Good God. How completely and utterly ridiculous.
I feel as though 'the elders' in our culture love to comment on anything and everything they have no business commenting on. I know many women whose mother-in-laws insist they keep getting pregnant until they have one child of each gender. Regardless of the responsibility it takes to raise a child or the toll it takes on a woman's body, mind, marriage and career. Of course, the importance of having a boy is essential it seems.
Yet, as I've written many times before, I'm noticing more and more as I grow older that it's the daughters who are taking care of their mothers. It's the daughters who have the stronger emotional relationship with their mothers. So when an aunty tells me that unfortunately so and so just had their fourth daughter, I feel like yelling 'Well at least she'll be set for retirement lady!'.
The 'poor' woman who has the burden of four daughters not only has an incomplete family but she must also suffer the burden of not being able to raise a son. Sure, I have two of my own so I don't know what it's like to feel that pressure. I do know that this backwards mentality needs to change.
We, the new generation of mothers, need to teach our daughters that they are equally as important and amazing as our sons. That we are perfectly complete as a family whether we have a team of all boys or a team of all girls. Our kids are fine just the way they are.
All I know is that on this lifelong journey to becoming a complete person, my kids do complete an aspect of me. They make me feel more whole. I felt this after my first child was born, after my second and now after my third. Even though I am thoroughly enjoying all the ruffles and bows in my nursery lately, it has nothing to do with what gender they are. It has everything to do with God bestowing the honour of motherhood upon me -- something I will forever be grateful for.
By Sheba Siddiqui
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: