You Are My Sonshine

I saw the positive pregnancy test, at about 3 weeks pregnant, and decided I was going to have a boy.

I told my family I was pregnant a few weeks later, and they congratulated me and cried a bit… and then told me I was going to have a boy. They’re basically psychic, so that kind of sealed the deal.

I didn’t even want to do a gender reveal. In all honesty, I was a bit nervous. I swore we were going to wait until the baby was born to know for sure, but as time went on and my pregnancy became harder and harder to get through I started to feel so bitter I was scaring myself. I wanted good news, something to keep my mind off of how anxious and nauseous I felt, so I decided to find out the gender of my sweet baby. I needed something to become excited about. The day before our sonogram I started to panic… what if it WASN’T a boy? I had already bought boys’ clothing that I swore to everyone could be gender neutral. I had told my husband to stop obsessing over girls’ names because we weren’t going to end up needing one anyway. I was going to feel evil if the sonogram showed a baby girl and I felt any form of disappointment, because what kind of a mom isn’t happy to have a healthy baby?

I had them write the gender on a card so that I could find out privately. I didn’t want to do a gender reveal in front of everyone, it seemed like too personal and emotional of a moment to share with anyone but my hubs. We grabbed lunch, went to a park I’ve always loved to go to and found a table. We opened up the card and I screamed because right there, in plain English, it said we were having a baby boy!

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We announced the following month with a good old fashioned fiesta and a game of Mexican Loteria. Everyone but the mom-to-be celebrated with a whole lot of tequila. We had a “son” shine themed baby shower to celebrate next, because I could not shake the happiness I felt over becoming a boymom!

 

Then reality set in… I knew nothing about raising boys. My family only had girls, my parents couldn’t help me out on that topic. Maybe friends could give me their thought, right? I never expected the crazy advice/comments I would receive because I was having a son.

My entire pregnancy I was reminded how lucky I was to be having a boy instead of a girl. After all, boys are so much easier to raise! These comments seem harmless and can be taken in a bunch of different ways, but I got more and more offended each time a new person would explain what they meant.

The idea that boys are easier to raise than girls is ridiculous. The idea that boys and girls should be raised differently at all is ridiculous. In reality, it’s toxic.

From my conversations with people and just general observations, we’ve decided boys are easier because they need less supervision. “You just don’t have to worry about them as much! He can go out and party as a teenager, he can date around without making you nervous like a girl would. He won’t be dramatic and emotional, thank God!” I cannot believe these are common thoughts among adults, some of which have already raised children of their own.

I’m a feminist. One of the biggest topics I discussed with my husband before finding out the sex of our baby was making sure we would raise them the exact same way regardless. Same privileges, same life lessons, same restrictions.

How many times as a little girl was I reminded of being “lady like” around others but if a boy is running wild we brush it off because that’s just a boy thing.

When your young son has a girlfriend at school, you cheer him on, but when your daughter does she’s “boy crazy” and needs to focus. We call grown women who responsibly date sluts but your handsome son is just “making his father proud!” You tell your daughter the little boy who picks on her on the playground “probably just likes her,” as if being mean is an accepted way to show affection. When a girl goes to her first party, years later than her brother was allowed, she has to sit through a lecture on safety that her brothers never heard. Our sex talk as women is about respecting ourselves, but your sons is all about using protection.

Our willingness to brush off bad behavior and poor discipline in our sons as typical leads us to raise immature or entitled men. I refuse to be the mother to a man who was never told to be a better person. By not raising him to the same standards I was told a girl should be held to, I would be failing as a mother.

I can’t imagine having a teenage son without discipline and claiming it’s because boys just mature so much more slowly than girls. Or seeing my adult son struggle with his emotions because I’ve been unfairly telling him to man up since he was a child.

So how does a feminist raise a boy? I’m trying to raise a strong independent man, the same way I would raise a strong independent woman. I’m offended that anyone would think I am not capable of raising a son that meets the same standards as their daughters. I’m offended that my son may not be allowed to express himself because you’ve decided it’s girly. Even worse, all men should be offended that they are not deemed capable of reaching those standards themselves.

I won’t be another person who raises their daughters, but only loves their sons.

Boys will be boys, you’re right, but being a boy and being an asshole are two distinct things.

Boys will be kind.

Boys will be thoughtful.

Boys will be hardworking.

Boys will be loving.

Boys will be responsible.

Boys will be trustworthy.

Boys will be adventurous.

Boys will be empathetic.

Boys will be disciplined.

Boys will be cared for.

I’ll teach my boy he is able to do all the things that a girl would be allowed to do, and that every girl he meets has the right to do the same. I’ll encourage him to show emotions, despite how often I know he’ll be told it’s not a manly thing to do. There’s a reason the suicide rate is higher in adult men, and it lies in the fact that boys are constantly reminded that their emotions are not to be shared or understood.

I’ll remind my boy not just of what he will be, but what he can be.

Boys can be hurt.

Boys can be scared.

Boys can be excited.

Boys can be anxious.

Boys can be curious.

Boys can be shy.

Boys can be confident.

Boys can be themselves.

My boy will be encouraged to be his best self, and I hope for the strength as a parent to help him find out what that means.

L

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