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