I’m the mom of two boys.
As I’ve learned over the 12 years I’ve been a “boy mom” (almost 13 if you count the time during my first pregnancy when I knew I was having a boy), I’ve learned that while there are lots of similarities in parenting boys and girls, there are also LOTS of differences.
At this point in my parenting experience, I’m going to chalk the main gender difference up to smell. Adolescent girls just smell better than boys. Simple as that.
But it started off pretty innocently. With a baby, whether you have a boy or girl doesn’t seem to matter that much, except that there are more clothing options for girls. That said, it’s not a big deal if you have a bald baby boy (because without a bow or a headband, even if you dress a bald girl head to toe in pink, some people are still going to tell you how cute he is). Plus, I don’t think girls generally pee on the wall when you’re changing their diaper.
In the years between infancy and adolescence, some differences have caught my attention.
Homework. I have one son who does the majority of his homework standing up. I have friends who say the same thing about their boys, but I’ve never heard that about a girl. As a girl myself, I have no idea why or how my son does this, but he’s a good student, so it’s not something I think I need to argue with him about.
I also think boys’ friendships are somewhat less complicated than those of their female counterparts. Matthew once got into a screaming match with a friend in our backyard. There were no punches being thrown, so I just decided to wait it out. They both stormed into the house when they finished yelling, and when I timidly asked, “Um, what’s going on?,” they replied calmly that they were going downstairs to play video games. That’s it. It was never spoken of again. Things don’t work that way with girls. The screaming match would have been followed by tears, texts, whispered conversations with other girls about said screaming match, and it could have been weeks or even months before whatever started it was forgotten. The boys, on the other hand, had already forgotten what they argued about by the time they got into my house.
I always thought I’d be the mother of a girl. I think for many women, we for some reason associate parenting with braiding hair, playing with dolls, and reading the girly books we read as kids (honestly, when it comes to my favorite author as a kid – Judy Blume – the thought of moving beyond the “Fudge” series with my boys just gives me the creeps).
When I was pregnant with Matthew, I just knew he was a boy, and yet when it was confirmed by an ultrasound, I was a little disappointed. And with Michael, I was SO sure he was a girl that we had a name picked out (Ella, if you’re curious). I had a test to rule out other things, and when I asked the gender and they told me he was a boy, I asked if they were sure. Their reply – “Um, XY, that’s a boy.” (that’s the chromosomes, for those of you who might have had as many years since high school science as I have).
And even though I was SO sure that Michael was the girl I always thought I’d have, there wasn’t the slightest amount of disappointment when I found out that our second child (who we knew would be our last) was a boy. I knew by then that the love for a child is not something that’s gender-specific. I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything. I love my boys as much as I could ever love any creature with beautiful long hair (and a better smell). I’m also convinced that you get the gender that you are meant to have (and I like to think that there’s some higher power somewhere who knows what they’re doing). Because while I’m pretty sure I couldn’t handle the complicated nature of girls, it doesn’t really bother me to read a book to a boy who for some reason is keeping his hand warm in his pajama pants.