holts2018 brought us the blessing of a new child to love and cherish. We did not know how Ellie would transition into the role of big sister to Causby. Thankfully, just as Charlie adored his little sister, Ellie adores hers as well. We have had many moments of joy watching Ellie cuddle, sing and talk to her new sibling. It reminds me so much of the relationship she and Charlie had. It’s bittersweet. Charlie should be here partaking in the laughing and all of the love Causby and Ellie share with each other.

It seems that every step for our family is emotional, this has been no different. We went from having the “perfect” combination of one son and one daughter who were always referred to as “the kids” or more specifically “Charlie and Ellie,” to now when people speak about our offspring, they refer to Ellie and Causby as “the girls.” “How are the girls?” our friends and family ask. I know it seems trivial, but hearing the phrase, “the girls” is like nails on a chalkboard to Michael and I. It makes us clench our teeth and hardens our brow. Hearing “the girls” omits our son from the equation. Charlie is our son and he should always be considered when speaking about our family.

This weekend, while having brunch, a boisterous waitress approached our table. She o’ed and a’ed over Ellie and Causby. “Your girls are so sweet!” she said. “Now you just need to have a boy.” Michael immediately gave me the look of “Help! I’m going to cuss this lady out if you step in.” I took a deep breath, as Ellie looked at me in confusion and responded to the waitress, “ We have a son actually. Charlie is his name.” Then without missing a beat, Ellie chimed in, “Charlie is in Heaven.” I wasn’t sure if the waitress processed what we said as she said her pleasantries, “Oh, how nice” and left our table. That was the last we saw of her.

As Michael and I talked about what transpired in the restaurant that day, we became even more uncomfortable with the waitress’ behavior. The first conclusion we drew was the obvious, I will always introduce Charlie to anyone who does not know him, when people ask about our children. We want Ellie and Causby to be comfortable talking about him and always know that regardless of where Charlie is, he will always be our family.

The second conclusion we reached was while the waitress of no fault of her own, did not know Charlie, did diminish the value of Ellie and Causby in her comments to us. She invited the idea that our living children, 2 girls, are not sufficient. We should seek to have a boy. What does that say to Ellie, 4 years old and sharp as a tack? —I am not good enough. Although this was the comment of one person, I think society as a whole still needs to work on how we refer and characterize our worth. Children are a gift, a joy no matter the color of their skin, their gender or ability. Our awareness as adults and how we express that is heard by tiny ears. And those tiny ears will in fact clear the path for future thinking.

So while yes, we have 2 girls that we cherish, we also have a little boy in Heaven that is a much a part of our life as any other member. And we love our children because they are our children and do not feel as though they should be categorized by their gender, but by their hearts.

So next time you see Michael or I, please feel free to ask us about our children, not just “the girls.”