Why I secretly wanted a second girl, and why I dread the day my little boy will leave me for another woman

Ellen's son

Ellen's son - Credit: Archant

Ellen Widdup’s 2.4 Children

I have a little shadow.

It’s about 3ft 5ins tall and follows me wherever I go.

My son at the age four has suddenly become a full-on mummy’s boy.

“What are you doing?” he asks me as I am bent over the toilet bowl scrubbing.

“Cleaning,” I reply.

“Oh,” he says and then loiters at the door of the bathroom until I finish. “I love you.”

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“Go play,” I say as I trudge upstairs with the hoover.

“But I want to be with you,” he says, clinging to one leg.

I can’t quite fathom it.

Where this sudden burst of adoration and desperation has come from.

Ever since he arrived he has had a wild, impetuous and independent streak.

He’s messy, smelly, noisy, boisterous, and downright destructive.

He’s the snips, snails and puppy dogs’ tails to my daughter’s sugar, spice and all things nice.

“Well that’s boys for you,” my mother said. “They do whatever the hell they want.”

Which was precisely why I never wanted a son in the first place.

This is not something people should admit, is it?

In fact it’s really only something you can say if you already have three of one gender. Only then is it deemed acceptable to have an opinion on sex.

You are supposed to say: “I don’t care either way. As long as it’s healthy.”

But taboo or not, I did.

With my first pregnancy we found out we were having a girl on the 20-week scan.

I was thrilled. I was destined to be a mother of a gaggle of girls. Girls I understand. After all I am one.

I had a clear picture of what raising girls would look like. Then when I fell pregnant for the second time I assumed I would have another – two girls who would grow up baking, colouring in and dancing to Disney songs.

“It’s a boy!” announced the sonographer. “Lucky you. One of each!”

But although it pains me to admit this now, knowing him, loving him, I didn’t feel that lucky.

I hated the thought of the endless climbing, punching and bouncing off the walls. The destructive games where things blow up and crash. The thought of watching Hot Wheels spin around the same loop-the-loop a thousand times or trying to comprehend football statistics or being witness to even a single game of cops and robbers.

But there was another reason I felt sad.

You see the fact is that in the end, your boys will leave you for another woman.

They will get girlfriends, who will be annoyingly beautiful. And then one of those irritating specimens will marry him and that will be that.

I speak from experience.

I’m one of those girls that married the mummy’s boy and became his new number one.

That’s right, my husband is the ultimate molly-coddled treasure.

When we met he was living at home and I could see from day dot that his mum was his number one fan.

And what did I do? I made him fall in love with me and then whisked him off to a new life in the south.

Of course at the time I couldn’t understand her devastation. Why she called him every night, offered to iron his shirts when she visited, checked I was feeding him properly, that he was washing behind his ears.

But now, as a mother of a son myself, I do.

A recent survey said 88 per cent of mothers admit to preferring their sons to their daughters.

Those questioned were more likely to describe their sons as funny, cheeky, playful and loving while labelling daughters stroppy, argumentative and serious.

And they said they were twice as likely to be critical of girls than boys.

Now I certainly do not have a favourite child.

Both filled me with immense joy and pride from the moment I laid eyes on them.

But I have to concede that I do love them differently.

Mothers and daughters have a unique and immensely special relationship, an understanding, a friendship.

But there is something that exists in the relationship between a mother and a son – a strange kind of bond – that’s hard to explain.

Now my boy is by far my most challenging child. But just as he throws himself full-pelt at everything he does in his life, he also loves with fierceness.

And I can’t help but reciprocate.

Part of that is because I enjoy his company and admire the way he looks at the world.

Another part is because I still worry that my time as his Number One will be short-lived.

After all, mummy’s boys have long been the butt of jokes but research shows that they grow up to be the best husbands, more likely to be considerate, make their wives happy and enjoy a successful, lasting marriage.

The third part is guilt.

Guilt about all that time I spent fretting, the fears I had wondering if my heart could find enough room to love another as much as I love my daughter.

Those fears that have been completely unfounded.

Because every time my son squashes my face between his hands and tells me passionately that he loves me, I melt.

This little boy, the one that I never really wanted, has turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Find me on Twitter @EllenWiddupFor more from Ellen, see here