"Did you want boys?" I get this question more than I anticipated from a variety of people. I wanted healthy kids and really I had no preference. I know all the sayings, because they have been told to me, about how sons love their mothers until they love someone else. That there is a closeness that daughters have with their families that does not end once they move out. I see that in some ways with my own family, I text or call my mom almost every day, my husband maybe once a week with his Mom but that may not be the case for my sons who have a different relationship with me, or maybe it will be and I will just deal. However, in having a child none of that is what I thought of. After all there is no guarantee that I would have a close relationship with my daughter and not with my son. There were the clothes that were cuter for girls but they have some of the coolest things for boys and I have walked by the pinkness of the girls aisles with no issues.
Raising boys though is a lot of work - much as I am sure raising girls is - and not because they tend to be high energy (all of the girls that my sons are friends with are pretty high energy themselves). It is a lot of work because there is so much that I want to make sure I pass on to them as they travel toward becoming men. As boys there are stereotypes and biases that the world will heap upon them. They are expected to be hyper, they are expected to do well in math, they are expected to be tough, they should not cry when they are hurt, they are likely to hurt each other in play and a host of other biases (conscious or unconscious). As a mother of boys I have to roll my eyes when my kids are running around because regardless if it happens for a few minutes people will comment on how "hard it is to raise boys" - umm no it is hard to raise kids to be successful for themselves as well for the world around them.
I have to let them know it is ok to cry - I watched the whole focus on Tom Brady crying as if that is a bad thing. He should cry when he loses, it is emotional to invest that much time in an activity and then lose. I know we associate crying with weakness but I refuse to bite - crying is a release and knowing when you need to cry but not crying for every little thing is a balance that is difficult so I would rather teach them that then to not cry at all. Good for you Tom Brady - so you cried - and I am not even a Patriot fan.
I have to teach my boys how to be good men to women. That treating women as equals means opening doors and being courteous to women while knowing that women can think as well, accomplish things as well, succeed as well, be friends as well and be as strong (while crying or not) as men. There is so much pressure for boys to take - to take from girls their bodies rather than to make a joint decision to share what should be a moment of mutual pleasure - to take from others with aggression rather than to learn to reconcile and collaborate - to take emotions and hide them and there is less pressure to give (that falls more on girls still). I have to battle that in ways that teaches my boys that life really is about give and take.
I love having boys and the relationship I am fostering with them is not a friendship at this point. I am their mother who has to make choices that they may see as unfair and teach them how to make those better choices on their own. I love having them open up to me and know that I will be fair even when I am less than happy with the choices they make. I love playing, reading, dancing and being a total goofball with them.
I do not know what parenting girls is like but I do know I want to be the mother of the kind of boys that those mothers are thrilled to have in their girls' lives, the mother whose boys are the friends that parents are glad to have in their own children's lives, and most of all the proud mother of the amazing men I see growing right before me. I want them to be like the ones that I have as friends, the men who are understand that being a father does not end with conception. I want them to be like the man who made me feel like I was loved and special. My boys are amazing and I am sure that if I keep encouraging and building they will be all that and more on a personal level and for the world around them.
Team Boy for me -- dedicated to the boys who listened to this read out loud, who always encourage my blog and who taught me how to be a more loving and better person - my sons Max and Cole !!!!!!