This morning, my 6-year-old son said "hello" with a gentle hug. Then he farted and blamed it on the cat. Yesterday, he called me "so cute." Minutes later, he yelled, "What the hell?" More often than not he wrestles his older sister to the floor as a sign of affection, and trust me when I say our toilet has seen better days. These are only a few examples of what life with my precious son is like. Yes, there are things I wish I knew about raising a boy before I had one, but if I'm being honest, these "surprises" are pretty great, too.
I grew up with a younger brother, so perhaps I should have known what I was in for. But my brother was a brat, in my sibling opinion, so to say he shaped how I felt about boys would be an understatement. Boys were gross. Boys were mean. Boys were loud and rude and, um, did I mention gross? So when I found out my first child was a daughter, you best believe I breathed a sigh of relief. I also assumed raising her would be a breeze. I mean, I'm a girl, so I had this whole "raising a girl" thing in the bag, right?
Wrong. My daughter is a person of her own making, and raising her hasn't proved to be magically easier simply because we both identify as girls/women. So when I found out I was pregnant with her brother, I honestly welcomed the change. Still, there are things I wish I knew about raising a boy, before my little man made his way into the world. Things like, for example, the following:
It Won't Be *That* Much Different Than Raising My Daughter
To be honest, I was afraid of having a boy. And as a result of my fear and apprehension, it never occurred to me that the same basic rules would apply, regardless of my baby's sex. They both ate the same way. Both pooped the same amount. Both needed the same amount of sleep. Both met the same milestones.
And as they've grown older, I've realized things still aren't all that different, either. I still have the same conversations about bodies and heartbreak. I still encourage both of my kids to use their words in order to describe their emotions. I still kiss both sets of boo-boos. My pre-conceived ideas about having and raising a boy are constantly challenged, and every single day it's made more obvious that it never really mattered what sex my son ended up being. He's just my child. Period.
He's Going To Want To Talk About Butts A Lot
Not a day goes by that my son doesn't talk about farts. In my experience, at least, boys have a weird fascination with body parts, butt and fart jokes, and generally anything considered gross.
His Interests Don't Have To Be Socially Constructed
It's sad to say that, even in 2018, our society still has ideas about "what a little boy should be, and like, and look like." Thankfully, I've realized that if you give kids space to figure out and be whoever they want, they won't pay attention to gender stereotypes or what culture "expects" of them. My son is sweet and kind and gentle and has big feelings.
Toxic masculinity be damned, my son is whoever he decided to be.
He'll Sometimes Want Dad To Do Things
I thought I'd be prepared to hand over the reigns if, and when, my son wanted his father to do something instead of me. Things like answering questions about his penis, or helping him aim better in the toilet, are things he doesn't to discuss or do with me.
As grateful as I am that he wants his father, and as happy as I am to watch from the sidelines while they create their own memories, I wish someone had warned me that it would hurt to not always be needed.
I'd Be Just As Invested In His Interests
When my daughter was little, we sat on the floor and played Polly Pockets for hours. Then she'd dress up and dance to whatever music I played. Some of it was gender-typical, sure, but I always followed her lead. I never saw myself as a football mom, or the mom who played with super hero toys, though if my daughter did any of those things I know I would've been on board.
Now that my son is old enough to vocalize his interests, I've realized that I'm just as invested in doing "boy stuff" as I am in doing anything with my daughter.
He'll Be My Biggest Fan
My son laughs at my jokes, even when they're not funny. He defends me, even when I'm clearly wrong. He tells me I'm beautiful when I feel like a walking garbage can. And when my pre-teen daughter yells at me and slams her bedroom door, he's right there with a light-hearted fart joke to remind me I'm not doing the worst job ever.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.