Monday, November 9, 2015

I Don't Know How to Raise A Boy

Approaching 20 weeks into my pregnancy I was excited and nervous. Not only would it be the first (and only) time I actually saw the baby growing inside of me, but I was going to find out the gender of my child. 

I didn't realize how important gender was to me until I actually heard the words 'It's a boy'. I had wanted a boy. I was elated. But about two days later my head started to spin. I didn't know anything about boys! What the hell was I going to do with a little boy?

It never occurred to me until then that we parent based on our own experiences. I am a girl (duh), and I liked girly things growing up. I played with Barbies, pretended I was a mom, liked to wear dresses, and was a total scaredy-cat. I wasn't very athletic even though I sure tried, and I watched Jem and She-Ra and The Little Mermaid. 

I panicked. It was my fault for wanting a boy, I thought. I did it to myself and now I was going to have to live with it. I told my husband far in advance he would have to do all the man talks, because I didn't understand any of it. I prepared myself for raising a gender stranger, and tried not to show my nerves when talking about it. 

My son is now almost a year old, and something strange has happened so far; I've raised a boy. No, that's wrong... I've raised a PERSON. I don't go out of my way to do boy things with him. I encourage whatever he shows interest in, and quite often that means trucks and smashing things, but sometimes it means telling him he looks pretty with my necklace on, or how much I love his hugs and how cool his favourite pink elephant is. 

I've come to realize that our idea of gender is partly what we encourage in our children. It hasn't been as daunting as I thought it would be to have a baby boy in my life, because the real life change wasn't about boy or girl, but rather about a new person existing. A new life just being.  

I'm going to do everything in my power as a mom to encourage whatever colours or toys or TV shows or sports this little human is drawn to, because to be honest, that's what's easy. Following his own path is taking me on a journey of acceptance that I never even thought I needed. 

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