When I found out I was going to have a son, people were quick to tell me what to expect. I was open to everything everyone told me about having a little boy, and quick to dismiss it all as absurd stereotype. So when my baby boy arrived and began to become himself nothing really shocked me, only because I wasn't expecting anything. I asked other moms to share the surprising things they've experienced in having a son, and their answers were interesting.
So much of what they said was echoed in someone else's answer. On the other hand, for every answer given, someone else would pop up and say, "Oh that's not the way it is with my son at all!" It's almost like there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creatures as wondrously complex as humans. Go figure! Then, of course, our own perception of "boys versus girls" and what boys are "supposed" to be like comes into play as well. "Is my son sweeter than my daughter, or do I just think that because I expect my daughter to be sweet and thoughtful and my son not to be, so I'm focusing on the incidents that break from expectation rather than the raw data?"
The realm of nurture, nature, and gender is a complicated place, to be sure. Certainly many (maybe even most) behaviors associated with one gender or another are learned. On the other hand, many times the most gender neutral of parents will notice that their little boy is demonstrating some decidedly "boyish" behaviors, without ever having been prompted to do so. This is, of course, to say nothing of the "technical issues" that come along with having a son (e.g. the word "penis" comes up in this article a lot). So with that in mind, here's what surprised more than a few moms about their sons:
"The energy. I have two boys (and don't have any brothers) and I am in awe of their constant motion. Also, the apparently inherent daredevil-ness. Maybe this has more to do with being their father's sons than being boys, but for us most of the stereotypes around the physical activity and risk taking is 100 percent spot on."
"I was terrified to have a son. How the heck would I know how to parent a little dude? What if we couldn't relate? But aside from the anatomical differences ... I'd have to say the most surprising thing is how much my son adores me and in a different way than his dad. He is 4 and a half and has already asked me to prom (boy do I hope that desire changes, as honored as I am) and planned fancy dates where he's going to take me to the jewelry store to pick out a pretty butterfly flower ring. It's shocking how giving and sweet he is ... He can be rough and tumble but displays such a sweet love with me that I wonder how the heck I got so lucky. It won't always be this way, but I'm pleasantly surprised and soaking up every moment."
"With three sons, I am surprised that none of them leave the seat up in the bathroom!"
"Definitely the energy. And I knew boys were obsessed with their penises but I had no idea just how much I would be telling my 2-year-old to get his hands out of his diaper. Or that he would say, 'Mommy look! My penis is bigger!' Or that he would announce in the middle of church that his penis hurt."
"They put their penises on everything. Every. Thing."
"I think the constant assumptions from everyone else are the most surprising. I know everyone’s hung up on gender/sex, but I guess I didn’t realize how much I’d have to argue with basically everyone that he is not X because he has a penis or because I assigned him male at birth. From the time I was pregnant, everyone was like, 'Oh man! A boy! Get ready, they’re wild!” And I’m like, 'OK, whatever.' Yes, my son can be wild from time to time, but not always. Also the way people apologize to me about calling him a girl (he frequently has long hair, which I love). People will be surprised and double back and apologize profusely and I tell them it’s really no big deal. I mean, what would be wrong with being a girl anyway? I also keep getting pressured to cut his hair because it will make him feel like 'more of a grown up boy' or 'more male,' and I just have to prevent my eyes from rolling into the back of my skull. I’ll cut his hair when he wants and when I want, not because of some ridiculous gender norm."
"I’m pretty new to having a boy, and while I know it’s impossible to know what is personality and what is gender driven (which is baloney, too), I have noticed differences. My girls were way more independent at this age, and didn’t want to be held back by snuggles or playing. So, I would say the most surprising is just how content he is just being with me."
"My son was the opposite of the stereotypes which baffled me, but the peeing in the air was quite surprising."
"I had a daughter before having a son. I expected differences, but was shocked. We do gender neutral playing in my house, but his nature is to be a walking boy stereotype. He is so physical and thinks nothing of jumping off high steps, climbing anything and everything, and every toy becomes a sword. He has his toys battle and everything is superheroes and Star Wars. I thought there was a possibility he could be into this, but the extent of his 'boyness' was unexpected. On the flip side, he is such a mush with me and that was surprising, since my daughter was not. If he is not destroying Death Stars or swinging from the chandelier, he is snuggled on me. "
"I was surprised at how much sweeter my son is. My daughter is sweet, but my son is absolutely snugglier, cuddlier, and sweeter, especially to me."
"My oldest son defies all the stereotypes (never peed on me, isn't penis obsessed, doesn't have the go-go-go energy my daughter has, etc.) so that was surprising. He also isn't the mama's boy I was promised!"
"When I found out I was having a boy, everyone said that boys are mama's boys. And I find that to be true. He loves cuddles, kisses, and back rubs."
"The violence. This exchange from Christmas is my life:
3 year old: *picks up random, non-weaponry-related toy* This is my gun! Pow pow!
My sister: Why is everything you touch a gun?
3 year old: Not everything is a gun. Sometimes it's a sword!
"I have three sons and I was shocked at how much energy they have. When they play together it’s like one of those cartoons where they are just rolling around together so fast that it just becomes a blur. They are also very sweet. My middle son tells me often things like, 'I love your heart Mama. You are so beautiful,' and all of the lovely things any woman would love to hear."
"How easy it would be to fit into his world. I was nervous when I found out I was having a boy because I didn’t know how to play 'boy things.' As it turned out, he shows me exactly how he wants me to play with him and I’ve discovered a new world of construction and ninjas."
"I found that it was not so different as I thought it would be. Boys and girls are practically the same for a year or so. It makes it easier to adjust if all you know is girly stuff like I did."
"The complexity. My two boys are so physical. They’re always jumping, fighting, and playing sports. They like fart noises and saying poop. They’re also very emotional, snuggly, and love Moana, Elena, and Elsa. I didn’t know I’d be singing 'I am Moana' loudly with my boys one minute, and telling them not to hit each other in the head the next."
"I tried raising my kids gender neutral. I didn't know gender during pregnancy, no boy colors, no athletic gear or camo print or trucks. And my son picked up a TV remote and made car noises driving around living room. He made balls out of paper and now he takes his mega blocks and builds (nerf) guns (that he hides in all my cabinets in case of ghosts). My biggest surprise is... how does he know? It's so natural to him. It's weird to me. On the other hand, boy number two, who knew gendered play from older boy toys, prefers pink and loves Peppa Pig over trucks. What the heck?"
"The most surprising thing about my son wasn’t realized until I had a daughter. He is way more chill than her! You hear boys are wild but not in our case. She’s my wild thing and he’s my lover."
"My son is so different than my girls. He is a total mama’s boy. He loves to cuddle up next to me, he is very sensitive towards my feelings, but when playing he is a stereotypical boy. He rough houses, jumps off things, likes to fight, and he likes to play in the dirt and get so messy. But when he's done playing, his gentle soul comes back. He doesn’t have attitude like my girls have, either. He is just so sweet."
"The amount of leaked diapers when he was a newborn because I didn't realize it mattered where I 'pointed it' when diapering him."
"What a sucker I am for him. Having a girl first, I was conscious about wanting to raise her to be strong and independent and brave and so I push her more and may be unintentionally harsher with her. Whereas with my son, I'm basically a puddle of mush and he can talk me into almost anything. I have to remind myself often that he has to learn all the things she has to learn, and not be handed things and so I do pull myself back and restrengthen my backbone, but it's not natural. As I have struggled with the why of this, too. I realized that a millennia of biology has taught us to protect our sons so they will protect us and make our daughters desirable for the world we currently live in so they are taken care of. And that's basically what I've been doing on instinct. The layers of ramifications of this are unfolding in the world around us in a whole new way lately. I really hope I don't add to the problem."
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