I remember being pregnant with my first child and knowing that I would find out the gender of the baby. Now some people like to wait, for the surprise they say, I for one wanted to know. I also quickly found out after giving birth that there is no lack of surprise, for knowing the gender means you know almost nothing anyway once the baby comes. I wanted to know because I wanted to prepare for the colors, not a big fan of mint green stuff and yellow that seems to be norm when you don't know, and I wanted to think of a name. It was same with second child.
As a pregnant mom I thought it would be crucial that I take a baby class, I did not babysit and neither had my husband, my exposure to babies minimal and frankly I am not a baby person. They smell good and can be super cute but I was never one to rush across a room to offer to hold a baby. In case you are wondering I did question my maternal instincts as I was a hormonal, pregnant mess but apparently and luckily for my boys they kicked in as needed. I still do not rush across a room to hold a baby.
I was and am shocked at how many times I have been asked the most bizarre questions about being the mother of boys or been offered sympathy for they must be "a handful". Aren't all children a handful? Even when they are not misbehaving they are challenging because they are ....kid. Not boy kids or girl kids but just kids. I know my friends who have girls get the same unsolicited sympathy "ooh you have to be careful". Don't we all have to be careful and teach our kids how to make good choices no matter if they are boys or girls.
I love my boys and the older they get the more I enjoy the way we interact. I had fun when they were little with them, was amazed to see them develop and now am watching them evolve. I had a long discussion with my oldest son the other day that went something like this.
Me "I am a feminist"
Him "No you are not"
"Umm yes I am why would you say I am not" sit up on couch, defiant tone in my voice evident even to me
"Because you know ... because those people hate men"
"Please stop right there you are talking about extreme people who may just also be feminists and I am talking about feminists. Do you even know what a feminist is?' Tone calmed down since apparently there is nomenclature not sexism at play in son
"Yeah they don't like men "
"No baby they just want the same rights and opportunities as men. I do not want to be a man, never have, I like being a woman and I like all those things that make me a woman but I just want not to be told I cannot do something because I am one and I want to be paid equally for whatever job I do that a man might be doing"
"You sure that's what a feminist is?"
Ends in hug ... long discussion ensued all good.
Raising sons for me includes teaching them to be kind, prepared for choices and fair. Raising sons means teaching them about their physicality - that they are strong, that they can overpower or that they can use that strength to help when someone isn't strong enough. It means teaching them that what they constantly say they love about their mom is that she is a feminist even though the word has taken on a negative connotation. Amazing how media has made people asking for equal rights into some weird fringe element - shouldn't people who want to mistreat others based on appearance be the ones feeling like the deviants?
It means having hard conversations with them about the power of permission that has to be given to them when they are with a partner. It means telling them to be careful with potential sexual predators. It means teaching them that it is amazing to be a man, to be who they are, to understand that they should be proud of themselves, confident to pursue their dreams and that all of that comes with the help and support of others not at the expense of others.
It also means that I need to understand that they are different than I am, in reactions, in emotional intelligence and that I am here to help them grow into men not to make them into my image. I think that might be a good parental lesson for raising kids and one, difficult but needed, to follow.
I think I am raising good kids, not perfect ones, good boys who will be great men and amazing people. I still get the ridiculous "I bet you wished you had a girl" statement at times, but frankly no. I did not wish to have girls or boys I wanted and got to have children who I admire for who they are - and I got that.