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Friday, July 31, 2009

Raising him

We didn't find out the sex of either of our babies until they were born. I am usually an anal-retentive planner who doesn't like surprises but about this I was shockingly relaxed. I think I wanted that moment. The one where the baby is born and a cry goes up in the room about the sex of the baby. "It's a boy!" or "it's a girl!". There is a joy in that. Plus I was also hoping that the anticipation of finding out the sex of the baby would help keep me motivated during labour. Mostly it did. I remember thinking once during labour with the girl that if I knew the sex of the baby I could just stop all of this. The baby could just stay inside, thank you very much.

Since we didn't know the sex of the baby during my first pregnancy there was a lot of discussions about names and baby stuff, but also about how we would raise a girl or a boy. I bought a copy of Free to Be You And Me and The Paper Bag Princess in order to be prepared to indoctrinate a child of either gender. We talked about not letting the child watch TV, succumbing to gender stereotypes and acceptable behaviour. All those things that fly out the window once you realize that you just need twenty minutes to yourself, your boy has a serious and spontaneous love of balls and that sometimes it is better to pretend you didn't see the pushing.

Secretly, I was a bit scared about the idea of having a son. I felt like I would know how to raise a girl. I had been a girl! I could understand the social pressures, the hormones and the thought processes of a girl. I was worried that I wouldn't know what to do with a boy.

Apparently I wasn't the only one thinking like this. A few months into my pregnancy a very close friend wrote to me in an email that she couldn't see me as the mom of a boy. That she couldn't see the husband and I being the parents of a son.

My first reaction was to be hurt and offended. For all I knew the baby I was carrying was a boy. I couldn't believe that she would say such a thing.

Sitting at my desk at work I tried to see past the words she had written and think about what she had meant. I tried to do this in order to understand her and not react back in anger. I finally came to the conclusion that what she had meant was that we didn't seem like the kind of parents of boys that she was used too. It was a long time later that I realized the issue was not if the husband and I would be good parents to a son but that my friend had a particular idea about how a son should be raised based on her own experiences. And that her experiences and my expectations of boys are different.

Yes, neither of us play organized sports or even watch organized sports on TV. We don't care about cars or motorcycles or boats. Much of those "boy" interests aren't ours. The husband would rather read a book than do much else, can spend hours playing computer games and used to like Dungeons and Dragons. He is not a "guy's guy". If he was I probably wouldn't have married him. He is the kind of guy that will carry his daughter's pink plastic purse at the park just because she asked him to and lavishes his kids with kisses and cuddles regardless of where we are or who is watching.

When I had calmed down I sent an email back to my friend. I said that we would raise a great boy. We would raise a boy that all the girls want to date. We would raise a boy that knew how to respect women, treat them appropriately and value them. We would raise a boy whose interests would also be ours, just because they were his.

Now we are raising a boy. More importantly we are raising him. Whoever he is and whoever he wants to be.


  1. I love this! We are not into sports and all that boy stuff. Yet we have a boy and I totally think we are raising a boy that girls will fall for :)

  2. Amen. The Boy is not a boy's boy. He's not a jock. He's the big gentle giant who loves to draw, and loves books and writing and his video games (gah) and his movies. He's a sensitive soul with a great big heart ... a lot like his dad. The philosopher one of his teachers called him. (He's 8 now.)

    He is his own kid and I really really like that about him. (I am a bit nuts about my kid...)

    I know not all mother's of girls are like that... but damn, I wish they'd stop with the "I'm sorry you (only) have a boy." I'm not sorry at all... I'm thrilled. He's exactly who he needs to be.

  3. Such a great post.

    I was the opposite, if you can believe it. Always wanted 2 boys fearing raising a girl. Then I got pregnant with my girlie and I couldn't imagine how having her (or my sweet son either). We try to avoid stereotypes but I do find it hard sometimes. We just try our best. I want them both to be who ever they want. I'm just happy they are mine.

  4. What a great post! My husband had always wanted girls for a very similar reason I think. His father hunts and fishes and watches hockey and my husband doesn't. I think he feared not relating to a boy. At 3 years old our son is the sweetest/chattiest/lovable boy you'll ever meet and we wondered what ever made anyone nervous. Although, 3 months in to boy/girl twins, it's the girl with the temper that makes *me* nervous lately ;)

  5. This post makes me cheer and weep, for everyone who is courageous enough to be who they are, and for those who aren't.

  6. I rocked that pink purse.

  7. I am afraid of having a girl.

    I was a tom boy, hated pink, and had likes and views so far from what all my girlfriends had. I fell off horses, had Hot Wheels, played in the mud, and wanted a motorcycle.

    I don't know what to do when and if I have a girl, and she likes pink, and Barbies and all things girly.

    I think also I am afraid to have a girl, because of my relationship with my mother was horrible, and thus, no longer. I used to feel that a boy is safer, a boy won't repeat the mother-daughter problems I had with my mom.

    I know this is not the case, I am not my mother, but its still scary. Will I be a good mother to a daughter?

    My husband reminds me that I am a woman, and in that, I am more than qualified, no matter what personlity my potential daughter may take on.

    I hope to remember that for when we prepare for the next child, and are holding hands at the ultrasound, waiting for the technician to tell us.