Friday, December 9, 2016

Oh boy, a boy!

January 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Pregnancy

image courtesy of hbo.com

If you watched Sex and the City as avidly as I did, then you probably remember the scene where Miranda “fakes” her sonogram.  The sonogram technician informs her she’s having a boy, to which Miranda simply nods.  The technician looks at her like she must not have heard and says, “It’s a boy!!”  Miranda realizes the expected reaction and gives a huge smile and says, “Oh boy, a boy!!!”

When I found out last week that our baby is a boy, I was genuinely thrilled.  Everyone thought I was having a girl, based on all sorts of silly tests and old wives’ tales, and for some reason I started to believe it all.  When the technician told my husband and me that it’s a boy, I first felt shock.  I was so sure it was a girl.

But then?  I felt happiness and, I have to admit, relief.  Phew, not a girl.

For a lot of my life, I was sure I’d be content without any children – and, in fact, I’m still sure I could have been, but I’m also extremely happy with this choice, this pregnancy.  At the times I did think about having children before, I mainly thought about having boys.  When one of my sister’s silly tests told me I’d have two daughters – no sons ever – I was heartbroken because I couldn’t imagine not having a son.

Beyond that, I never believed I could raise a girl.  I wasn’t your typical girl growing up: I didn’t have a boyfriend until my mid-20s; I didn’t go on a single date in high school; I was a bit of a loner and very introspective and nerdy (which hasn’t changed all that much).  What could I ever know about raising a girl?  What if she wanted to be a cheerleader?  What if she wanted to play soccer?  What if she hated reading?  What if she took it upon herself to go on a diet at age eight because her friends were on diets because their mothers were on diets?  How do I get into that?

Then there’s the fact that I love being a woman and love many of the things considered traditionally female:  things that sparkle, make-up, and shopping.  How could I share these with her but not have her become someone who sees these activities and things as utterly necessary to womanhood and femininity?  It was all far too much to consider.

But before we knew if we were having a boy or a girl, my husband and I discussed and agreed that we’d raise either sex the same way: with an understanding of what it means to respect others and that sex and gender do not determine your capabilities or interests. Our son will know how to protect himself, both verbally and physically (if necessary); our daughter would have learned this, too.  Similarly, I have to make sure he knows that not all women will like to shop or wear make-up – and that’s okay.

Yet, somehow, it feels like the stakes are lower with a boy.  To channel Carrie Bradshaw: I can’t help but wonder, “What about that feeling of relief?”  Oh, good, it’s not a girl.  Phew. What kind of mother to a girl could I be if her impending entrance into my life made me worry so much about how to raise her and how to simultaneously shield her from all of the negative body-hatred issues there are out there while teaching her how to comprehend, analyze and (if possible) dismiss them?

I feel like I had to learn a lot of this on my own because my mother wasn’t really aware of it.  She grew up overweight and taught me much of what she learned growing up: don’t tuck in your shirt if you’re fat, lose weight if you want someone to be interested in you, be careful what you eat in public, and so on (all things she still believes).  It’s not something I blame her for; it just is what it is.  Her intentions were the best: to guide me and shield me from the hatred and prejudice she had experienced.  Obviously, when we have children, our goals are the same: to shield them from hatred and prejudice while providing them with the tools and judgment necessary to navigate this complicated life, including how to be a good man or woman . . . if we have any idea how to define that.

What do you wish your mother/father/parenting figures had told/taught you?  What have you had to unlearn/learn for yourself?  Do you feel your parents/adult figures raised you in a way that was gender or body specific?  If you’re a parent, how did the gender of your child(ren) affect your parenting, if it did?

Comments

No Responses to “Oh boy, a boy!”
  1. As a dad, who works with teen girls everyday, I am very aware of how much what parents say and do can effect the body image of girls. The other day I noticed that I was getting a little softer in the midsection after the holidays. I noticed that my 3 year old lifted up her shirt to see if she was too. At 3, it was cute and funny, but it reminded me of how conscious I need to be about what I say to my daughter about body image.

    • lissa10279 says:

      I think it’s awesome that you recognized this influence you (as a parent) have over your young daughter — kudos!!! Now if only ALL parents could share your sense of awareness….

    • CandiceBP says:

      That’s a really wonderful example. Little kids really are such sponges – they pick up so many things we may not even realize we do or say at first. Definitely kudos to you for recognizing this and altering what you do to help your daughter’s developing sense of self.

  2. lissa10279 says:

    First of all congrats on finding out it’s a boy! I remember that SATC episode, too (I channel Carrie a lot ;)) and though I haven’t been pregnant yet, I can see what you mean about feeling that sense of relief.

    I grew up loving making airplane models (a passion I shared with my dad) as much as I loved playing with my baby dolls/Barbies/etc … but I was definitely more girly than not.

    I like the idea of raising your children without being gender-specific but I think eventually nature and nurture might collide and (not always, but often) boys tend to fall into boy gender roles and girls into girl gender roles. That said, I think teaching both sexes to be strong and assertive (“boy”); sensitive and caring (“girl”) — is a great idea.

    • CandiceBP says:

      Thanks! I also loved playing with cars and blocks and things now seen as “boy” things when I was little (I have no understanding of why blocks seem to be primarily marketed as boys’ toys now), but I also loved my Barbies and My Little Ponies, too . . . so I want there to be a balance because I know there can be. Gender roles will come about as kids grow into the world more, and that’s okay, I just want to be sure he knows that it’s all a choice and that everyone has a responsibility to be a good person.

  3. debroby says:

    I wish my parents would have treated us all equally when it came to chores and responsibilities. So that I, too, learned how to fix things and repair my car without having to learn it all on my own. And that the boys had to do more of the cooking and cleaning. (which they are all doing in their own marriages now).

    • CandiceBP says:

      That’s a really good point. While I do love my mother-in-law, I hate that she raised her sons to do no housework. My husband’s grandmother still made his bed for him when he was in his 20s (and refused to let him do it). They weren’t allowed to cook, never asked to clean, etc. So now we constantly work on who’s doing what chore because I refuse to do it all when we both work full-time. He knows how to clean, but it just never occurs to him to actually do so.

      But no one in my family, male or female, can fix a car so . . . that’s something I’m learning from my husband, very little by very little. 🙂

  4. anonymous says:

    This reminded me of an article I read saying how our culture generally shapes us to prefer having male children. Not that I’m suggesting that characterizes you at all. You sound like you would make a great parent for either gender. Congrats and best wishes with the pregnancy. 🙂

    Here’s the article; it’s pretty interesting and I think it would make for a great discussion starting point:

    http://www.salon.com/life/fatherhood/index.html?story=/mwt/feature/2009/11/15/feminine_child

  5. mamaV says:

    I relate to this story so much. I was scared to have a girl after all I had been through with modeling, body image and self image.

    My daughter, Grace now 9, has taught me how to be a girl again — and enjoy it. So many years I spent hiding myself, and she helped me learn to love those girlie things. She is an amazing person, daughter and friend.

    Then, the day my son was born, I was scared again! Will I know what to do? Sid now 6 is unreal. Our relationship so close, in such different ways (interestingly in very affectionate ways, and sensitive ways which is generally associated with girls)

    I think a parent has such a special relationship with their child, each one different is aspects, by equal in love. I also felt it has been natural for me to be open to gender roles, my husband and I are rather open minded to all people being different, so I think it is so important to teach them about how life is an adventure, be who you are, make mistakes, take chances. This means if my son wants to paint his nails – go for it (hey, Green Day does!) and if my daughter decides to dress like a skater boy — cool with me.

    My parents set a great example — always, always letting me be me. I have been quite blessed.
    mV

    PS Candice, you are going to be an awesome mom, I am sooooo excited for you!!!!

  6. love2eatinpa says:

    this was a great post for me, really made me think. i wished my parents gave me some sense of self and i wish they nutured me in the way i needed it so that i didn’t turn to food for comfort.
    as a parent, and compulsive eater, i’m hyper aware of what my children are eating. i can see my son follows my husbands footsteps of being someone who has a normal relationship with food, but my daughter, i’m not so sure and i do worry about her. *sigh*

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