Boy or Girl?

Mommy’s Corner is a weekly series exploring our journey in becoming parents, our love for our ShuGar baby, and general topics related to mommyhood.

Almost immediately after we tell anyone we are having a baby, the next two questions follow:

Do you want a boy or a girl? Do you know already?

I always stop to think twice on how to answer these two questions and in what order. If I answer the former first, then answer the latter, I may sound disappointed if the two answers don’t match. I usually just go directly to stating I already know the gender. We’ve actually known for a while since I got “special” testing during the first trimester due to my age.  We are having a beautiful boy!

But, the gender question is actually a loaded one with many assumptions and societal expectations laced in each gender response.

Total honesty: I always thought I was going to have a girl because…I’m a girl! So funny, but true. It’s just what I am used to since, after all, I have lived my entire life in girlie shoes. When I discovered we were having a darling prince, a part of me was scared because boys are mysterious to me still. I think I have them figured out to a certain extent, but I have never lived a day in their pants (so to speak!).  I started to ponder what a boy likes, wants, needs etc.

That’s when it hit me. We have so many societal norms attached to gender, which we never really question, but, instead, reinforce after every generation. It’s sort of “the way things are”, but do they have to be this way? I mean, do all girls have to love pink and wear bows? Do boys have to strive to be quarterbacks of a football team?

When we have a baby, is it as simple as asking if we are going to have a He-Man or a She-Ra? (I am totally aging myself with this analogy). She-Ra is actually a pretty progressive, kick-ass gal, but you get the point. What if they don’t fit into these extreme binary categories and fall somewhere in the gray area? I can still remember tom boys being teased at school because they wanted to play ball, not dolls.

I had a lengthy convo with Mr. ShuGar about this and he mostly listened. I have been told I am very introspective and question things a lot. I love how he just looks at me and lets me ramble. I told him I don’t want to force our boy to be this super macho male who would be ashamed to cry and whose favorite hobby is to grunt while lifting weights at the gym in order to be the ultimate body builder (a little exaggeration).  For example, having his first outfit be a football jersey to begin the indoctrination.  See like image below.

I’m not saying I would not support my sweet man if he wanted to be these things, but I just want us as parents to be cognizant of the gender messages we give him. I want him to do and be who he is, not who we think he should be. I don’t want to scold him if he shows any sign of femininity or, heavens forbid, emotion!

A lot of my girl friends who have boys tell me how much they love boys. They literally have all said, “They are the best!” I am so intrigued and I ask why. They just say they’re easy and so lovable. Just this past weekend at my Zumba class, my sweet Zumba friend pointed out a cute boy that was waiting in the back of the studio for his mom to finish her Zumba class. He must have been maybe 4 or 5 years old, maybe. He brought his mom a towel and water in between the music breaks! While she danced, he would wait in the back and dance to the music, too. I just fell in love.

I’ve also been interviewing Mr. ShuGar about his relationship with his mom and what that was like. I’m trying to gather as much info as possible to be the best mommy to my prince.  He revealed that the relationship between a mother and a son is a special bond that remains strong throughout a boy’s life.  He said a mom is really the boy’s first love and a mom is cherished by her son from the moment they meet. Mr. ShuGar said when he was younger, his mom was his best friend. So sweet! I just melted when I heard him describe this. It really made me very excited to develop this relationship with my cutie boy. (And I do not want to raise a mama’s boy either.)

So, rather than envision hiking a football to my son the moment he comes out of my womb (is that the football expression?), I would like to be more conscious of the gender expectations we teach him. I know  it is impossible to raise him without any societal norms because I have gender assumptions I probably don’t even recognize. I just want to try my hardest to let him be who he wants and teach him to be proud of that always, regardless if it’s cool or not.

If you are a parent already, how have you taught your child to be a “boy” or “girl”? For parents or non-parents, do you have any gender preference? Why?

Photo credit: Baby shoes, He-Man She-Ra, Football Player

  • Kristen Genevieve

    I have a cousin who actually got her PhD in Developmental Psychology, focusing on gender stereotypes & how those societal norms impact young children. She promotes girls being more than princesses, that sort of thing. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately since we’ll find out the gender of our baby next week! 🙂
    A large part of me wants a boy because I have just always wanted a pack of mama’s boys! But part of me wants a girl first because I want to have a second child fairly soon after, and I feel like girls are more stereotypically calm then boys. However, my 18 month old niece is a wild child and my brother at that age was totally chill. It just depends on the kid, especially that young. I worry about girls as teenagers, but my brother was not an easy teenager either. I also tend to believe women keep the family together more as they grow older, but my husband is more of a family guy than one of his sisters! Ya just never know.
    I think the best way to avoid forcing gender stereotypes on your kid is just to be a good example! Treat them like they have a choice – which is what it sounds like you want to do! I feel like I’m lucky in that my husband does not think being a macho man is cool. He likes football & farting, but he also cleans, cooks, does dishes, and is not afraid to be silly with his nieces & nephew. He’s not feminine by any means, he just thinks men who act like “Bros” are idiots. So I think he will be a good example to both our boys and girls.
    I think its a hard thing for people to remember though that kids aren’t going to be exactly the way you want them to be – they are going to be themselves. Its difficult to grapple with the idea that they are their own person because they need you so much. But even before they get to Kindergarten, they have their own personality. I feel like all you can do is surround them with examples of good people and guide them when they need it along the way. 🙂
    xo kristen genevieve

    sunnywithachanceoflemons.blogspot.com
    sunny bloglovin

    • Awesome response! I am so excited for you to discover the gender. What a special moment!

      I love how you point out that there are absolutely no guarantees on the personality of our children. We can only hope that they choose the right path and we support them for who they are. I think surrounding them with unconditional love will help them decide who they want to be. I just want to be sure we don’t jam a gender agenda down their throats. It’s annoying when I see that and people just do it “just because.” Your husband sounds like the perfect example of someone who understands the importance of letting someone be themselves and not fall prey to stereotypes.

      In the end, our kids will be who they are and all we can do is support them. Thank you for such a sweet response!

  • kgstyle

    When I had my first child. I wanted a boy mainly because I was young and didn’t want to raise a girl so young since they require so much care. But a girl I had, indeed. and it turned out to be AWESOME! She’s so good to me. She has her attitude of course especially since she’s a teen but after having my beautiful boy 2 years ago, she’s been nothing but supportive and helpful and loves her baby brother immensely…! She almost spoils him more than I do!!

    She was calmer at his age but for the most part, both are pretty good kids and both are attached to me.

    xoxo,
    KG

    • Thanks for sharing! I love how your girl showed you how lovely they can be. You never really know how anyone will turn out and you just have to wait and see their personalities form. I want our boy to develop who he wants to be and we’ll love him regardless of any gender norms. In the end, like you said, you love them no matter what because they are our loves. Thanks again for your kind response!

      • kgstyle

        Sure! 🙂

  • shy

    i have a girl – and strangely ‘felt’ she was a girl before she was born. we never asked for the gender – we didn’t really care so long as our baby was healthy. we’ve been pretty neutral with our girl. she has grown up playing barbie dolls one minute and transformers, the next. our goal was to never push any gender bias on her – or any societal expectations.

    but the problem was what others would do or say to her and that did bother me. the older generation can sometimes get in the way of modern-day parenting. (not to say that some of the old-school rules are, well, old school. some rules stay pretty solid throughout all the generations.)

    i once watched one of my family friends (my parents’ friends) scold one of their grand-daughters for being loud and a bit rambunctious at a restaurant with her brother and boy-cousin. they weren’t being THAT rambunctious, actually. but what struck me was that the boys were allowed to carry on the exact same behaviour – and they were probably worse! the words used were, “that’s not how to behave like a proper girl!” aye-yi-yi! i was dumbfounded. in this day and age? they are around the same age as my parents – even my parents would never put that type of expectations on their grand-daughter (my daughter) like that.

    but basically, i go with whatever my daughter’s mood fits her. if she feels like being girly by doing a manicure with me and then watching romantic comedies, then so be it! if she wants to go to the comic store or get dirty with her father when we go camping, than so be it. so long as she knows she has choices – and that she can do or be whatever she wants.

    what’s more important to us is that she grows up to be a good person. 🙂 and she is – she’s very helpful (always wanted to help with house work since she was 3) and is very compassionate. we’re quite blessed!

    • You are such an amazing parent and your daughter is lucky to have you! You bring up an excellent point about others imposing their own biases. How annoying, but also unavoidable to a certain extend I am sure. Ugh. I have seen that already with some family members and I don’t really know what to say because I don’t want to be rude, but come on!

      This supports my point that people don’t question “these rules” and just repeat the vicious cycle. As much as we want to shield our kids from this, it’s almost inevitable. All we can do is continue to educate and support our kids the best we can and hope for the best.

      I love how your daughter helps you with house work. So sweet! I think it’s wonderful that you let her be a girly girl and also get dirty. This I think is very healthy and gives her freedom to be who she is. That’s exactly what I want to do for our ShuGar boy Thank you for the tips and support! I loved reading your response.

  • PS

    As the Kinks once sang, “Girls will be boys and boys will be girls.” I
    appreciate your stance that it’s more important to raise a child as an
    individual rather than a convention. Nice piece!

    • And I am lucky for you to be the father to help support this. Our lil man is so lucky to have you! You will be an amazing example of what being a real man is.