If I only had boys that were not so strong, determined and active . . .
If only my son didn’t upset a little girl (again) . . .
If only other parents didn’t shower me with their unsolicited wisdom about my boys . . .
If only my boys were mainstream, reverent, subdued, robotic . . .
If only my sons could be drugged out of every high energy, intelligent and creative thought they ever had [insert sarcasm] . . .
If only . . .
Recently I met a woman, and when she found out I had sons, the first words out of her mouth were,
“Don’t you wish you had girls instead of boys?”
I haven’t been able to get her words out of my head ever since. In fact, I let her words put a dark cloud over me. Without thinking, (because I never have to think about how I would answer a question like hers), I answered her,
“No, I don’t wish I had girls instead. I love my boys. I love their energy. THEY ARE THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME!”
“Really? I do [wish I had girls].”
I am sure she had her personal reasons for saying these things and I want to be understanding. However, not in this lifetime or a thousand lifetimes, would it ever occur to me to wish my children were someone different than who they are.
Sadly, as hard as I try not to be a completely paranoid freak, convincing myself that I am the brunt of things like local gossip, I sometimes feel like this woman is not alone in her disdain for little boys. For instance, I have noticed that, once I had Kyle and Eli, and people were exposed to their exuberance, my friendships changed (even with people who already had children). I am the first one to admit that my sons are full of life, intensity, forcefulness and energy. I am also the first one to instill discipline, boundaries, help my sons feel safe and to teach them to respect others and their surroundings. Me, I am far from perfect. Kyle and Eli, well, they are boys and they are learning.
Kyle and Eli are my sons and what I have also come to realize is that I can’t expect any person on this planet to love and value them the way Dave and I do. Selfishly, I wish that my friendships didn’t change with the arrival of my sons. At the same time, I appreciate people and their willingness to embrace my family, even when my family is more than they bargained for.
It is hard and painful being a parent. I often feel out of place and insecure. I feel sad when I see the moms with girls unite for dance lessons, gymnastics and play dates, which ultimately deepen the friendships between these women. I am terrified when I hear a little child whine when Kyle and Eli run into their space, knowing full well that her whines are another subconscious mark against my sons. I cringe inside when children run up to me so they can let me know what terrible things my boys did.
More significantly and way more importantly, I jump for joy when I see Eli enthusiastically greet one of his friends (girl or boy) and I completely melt when I watch Kyle tenderly wipe away the tears of one of his sad little buddies. Because I am a doubter, at least today, I am guessing that people often notice the bad more than the good with children that are not their own, perhaps as a way of validation that their child would never behave in such an unfortunate manner.
But thank God for mothers (yes, of course I mean, thank God for parents). Even when we see a poop covered wall, we can always see the beauty:
“Hey, at least he came up the stairs, holding his hands high in the air, making sure he didn’t touch anything. And at least he told me about his special poop art project, instead of me or Dave finding it days later.”
We can also see how charming a spaghetti-smeared face is on our little child, who is learning to eat solid foods while being blind to the mess they are making and the hair they are covering with tomato sauce.
And we can delightfully appreciate the Shaprie-drawn-on-hair the older brother adds to the younger brother’s forehead:
“Mom, isn’t it great? Doesn’t it look just like hair? Oh, and mom, how do you like my mustache?”
So you ask, “trade your sons?”
“NO WAY! You would have to drag me, kicking and screaming. You would have to kill me first, before you could take my sons away from me.”
And why a mother, who has sons, would say that she would rather have girls absolutely does not compute. Me, I am just grateful I have children.