It is no secret that my father loves his two daughters and openly tells people over and over again how having two girls has taught him to be more sensitive, more responsible, and a better man in general.
And as it was with Claire, it was he who was the happiest to hear the news that we are expecting another girl.
However, I know that this was not always the case. I know that having lived most of his life in Korea — formerly a strongly patriarchal society — he must have had bouts of disappointment at not having sired a boy. (Surveys now show that for the first time in Korean society, parents prefer to have girls over boys. This is a significant shift in a country that once made it illegal for doctors to reveal the gender of an unborn baby due to the high rate of gender-selection abortion.)
So earlier this week, I asked my mother if my father ever expressed disappointment at never having a boy. She then proceeded to tell me her birth story…
“Back then, men weren’t allowed in the delivery rooms,” my mother recounted. “In fact, most men just stayed home until they received word that the baby was born. And because I was in labor for such a long time, your father went out with his friends for a celebratory drink.
“When he returned, I had given birth! But as soon as the nurses informed him that it was a girl…
“…he went out for another drink with his friends to drown his sorrows at you not being a boy!”
We both had a good laugh over the story. Knowing my father was initially disappointed that I was not a boy does not bother me in the slightest, because that was waaayyyyyy in the past, and I know that his love for me has grown exponentially since then. (Just as I know that Claire won’t mind that I did not fall in love with her at first sight.)
Besides, that was the norm — almost expected behavior — back then, in Korea. Can you imagine the sh*tstorm that would rain down on a father that would do that in this day and age?