As we were going through her long list of disappointments, my mom mentioned that I never gave her a granddaughter. Though she loves both of her grandsons dearly, she regrets I didn't also have a daughter.
When I tried to explain there was no guarantee my third child would've been a girl, she stopped me in my tracks. "Shirley Temple's mother wanted a little girl, and she knew exactly what to do to have one."
"What did Mrs.Temple do?"
"She went to a doctor who told her if she wanted an adorable little girl who could sing, dance, and be one of the biggest stars in the world, her husband would have to get his tonsils out."
"And did he?"
"Of course he did. Not only was Shirley Temple a huge child star, but she went on to become an ambassador."
I immediately searched the Internet, and found a 1988 excerpt from Shirley Temple Black's autobiography Child Star in People Magazine. The energetic sixty-year-old wrote how her father had a tonsillectomy to "improve his chances of siring a female," after his two older sons were born. Apparently, my mom sat in on a guest speaker highlighting Shirley Temple Black's life.
Later, I asked my husband if he would've had his tonsils removed if we were assured of having a daughter. He reminded me of when he originally went in to have a tonsillectomy in fifth grade. He ended up spending several days in the hospital, and went home without having the procedure. I asked him if his parents visited him at all during that time, why he didn't have the tonsillectomy, and if he even got to have ice-cream? He answered "yes" to the ice-cream question.
I told my mom she could look forward to having granddaughter-in-laws, and great granddaughters. Cheerfully she remarked, "I won't live long enough to have a conversation with my great granddaughters."
Then I started thinking about what my relationships would be like with my future daughters-in-law. I remembered how it took a long time for me to grow on my mother-in-law. Fortunately, she started to like me after she turned ninety.