Like many men, my father wanted sons, and my mother was kind enough to endure the pain of giving him five.
And like many women, my mother wanted daughters. One can understand why she was disappointed when I was born and my father was boasting yet another son to his buddies in the waiting room. But Mom was so upset over yet another XY-mouth to feed that she went into a tantrum with the nurses, throwing things and crying out that she wanted a girl.
I still own the pink baby bracelet the nurses put on me in a chromatic effort to calm her down. I’m lucky Dad didn’t name me Katherine just to make amends for sharing the wrong chromosome.
As Ma lay in bed huffing and puffing over how unfair life was, the nurses brought in her roommate’s baby boy. The baby had been born with no fingers, and yet the woman never once complained. She held her newborn with the accepting love that only a mother seems able to give in the worst of situations.
My mother immediately demanded to have me brought back into the room so that she could check my fingers. And of course, she ceased her ridiculous tantrum.
It was a lesson my mother never forgot, and one that benefited me by her sharing the story with me.