Tag Archives: Parenting

Raising A Son In A World Full Of Daughters

September 9, 2014

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Edited from the archives. Originally published March 26, 2013.

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For my son

We learned you were a boy on a cold day in February. Your dad hoped for blue, but I longed for a girl in the way girls do when they’ve grown up without brothers, playing dolls instead of trucks and Barbies instead of legos.

When the ultrasound technician showed us your tiny profile, it took exactly ten seconds for my heart to reattach to someone else, a whole different person than who I’d imagined. Not an Elsie or Liesel or Evangeline but a Jack or Tucker or William. A boy.

You, my son, are so lucky. A man in a man’s world. You will be a white, educated, son of a doctor with American parents and your dad’s skinny genes. Congratulations! The tricky part is being a decent human in spite of those things. Do the best you can and remember to be kind.

Assuming you grow up to be a man who loves the ladies, let’s remember a few basic romance tips. For example, remember there is a difference between being assertive and being an asshole. Remember no means no. Remember when you are trying to woo a lady, do not tell her how she feels. Instead: ask, listen, repeat. Also remember to never be the kind of guy who throws punches or puffs out his chest to “defend his territory.” She is not your territory. You’re just a guest who’s been invited to stay until you screw things up.

Ways you can screw things up:

1) Assume she loves all the same things you do (she does not).

2) Assume she only enjoys salads (she does not).

3) Be jealous.

4) Be lazy.

5) Sabotage her self worth with commentary on women’s bodies.

Use your head. Use your best jokes. Men and women are different, yes, but we are also very much the same. We all want to be heard and understood. We all want meaningful relationship and a connection beyond texting and holding hands. We all want someone who sees us as an equal; in the workplace, in the home, in the voting line, and in the bedroom.

Finally, remember that every woman is a daughter. Every tall brunette and petite blonde with nice teeth and tight jeans is someone’s baby girl who has survived childhood and is trying to figure out life and all its beauty and misery, just like you are.

I never pictured myself a mother of boys, but here I am, starting with you. You made me both a mother and a mother of a boy the moment you took your first breath and for that I will always be grateful.

We’re in this together. 

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Preschool

September 3, 2014

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This morning we are taking our three-year-old son to preschool.

I am only mildly hysterical, pacing around the house, worried about socks and the speed at which we are eating our waffles. Austin has dismissed me from the room twice. “We don’t really need two irrational people in here.”

Well the other one is you, buddy.

For the first few years, I thought we wouldn’t send him. I thought I’d keep him home with me, find playdates when we could, and learn our ABCs on our own. I thought, “Hey! Let’s wait until Kindergarten! When he’s older! Wiser! When all his chest hairs come in!” I even laughed along with moms who said “preschool” was synonymous with “daycare” and hah-hah-hah we don’t need to do anything like that.

Over and over in parenting, I am surprised. I learn to wait and see.

Waylon already knows his ABCs. Even so, I’m not sending him to put him on an academic track to Harvard. I’m also not sending him for the babysitting or to spend more time with Eva. I’m sending him because he’s bored. Because I’m not one of those moms who does craft time or organized play time or sits down and does a puppet skit about sharing. I’m sending him because we don’t have a big backyard or a rural landscape to roam or neighbors the same age. Because he’s trapped in a house with a squeaky baby and writer mom who is always saying, “shhh–I just need five more minutes.”

I’m sending him because I care about him and believe he will thrive.

I know I am not the first blubbering parent to send my first, precious, newborn spawn to preschool and be sad about it. Wonderful parents have been leaving their wonderful babies in the care of others for hundreds of years and for the love—get it together. Still, this boy and I have been together every day for the past 3.2 years, and while it is only a few hours a week, it is a separation we are not used to.

Last night I drew a tiny heart on both our hands so he could look at it today during school and know I’m always with him; cheering him on, knowing how brave he can be. Someday I hope he looks back and thinks, “Wow, my mom was a psychopath but she did love me.”

It’s really fine.

The start of school does a lot of things to mom hearts. For some it elicits joy, for others–fear and worry. Underneath it all, we’re all just rooting for our kids (and hoping no one throws up).

Cheers to teachers who care and encourage and love on these babies from preschool to that final walk across the graduation stage.

Here we go.

A beginning.

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