I want my sons to know that they are loved, exactly as they are. I am removed enough from past generations to not force “manliness” on them. For instance, you won’t catch me saying things like ‘little boys don’t cry!’ or your favorite color CANNOT be pink!
That being said, I’m also living the reality of raising 3 sons. I have seen the difference between my sons playing, and the play of my nieces or little girls in the nursery. They love to wrestle, to talk about poop and pee, and we have collected monster trucks as if we were collecting supplies for a looming apocalypse. This is not to say that my little boys resemble ALL male children. I’d be dense to assume that my sons represent the entire population of male children, especially in a time when gender identities are being questioned and, for some, becoming fluid. I am in no way a representation of the whole. However, I still have my boys to raise.
In light of current political occurrences, such as Trump being in office and The Women’s March, I began to think about what it means to raise sons during a time when females feel so underrepresented.
If I had daughters, maybe I would feel differently about the conversations I’d need to have with them. As it is, I only know that as the primary female in my home, I have a responsibility to address these issues with my sons.
So, I want them to know how to love and respect their mother. I see this translating to their treatment of all women, simply by default. Ie, Mom is a female: She Deserves Respect: All Females Deserve Respect.
I want them to see me respecting their dad. I want them to see me acknowledging that he and I have different strengths and weaknesses, but that we are able to coexist and to do so successfully, with love.
I want them to see me valuing the differences in each one of us. Not giving some a pass for bad habits, but accepting that we all are not wired the same.
I want my sons to know that their job is never to define people or place them in a box. It is to accept them and to find the good in them.
My job as their mother is to make them feel so supported, so comfortable in their skin, and so cherished (even while admitting they have weaknesses and hurdles to pass), that they can share those sentiments with others.
I know, and so will they, that life is not easy, that things will not be handed to them all of the time. But, I hope my sons thrive in the face of conflict and challenge. I don’t believe they will get there by me molding them perfectly into who I want them to be, but rather by me taking a step, or ten, away and seeing who they decide to be when adversity strikes.
I will always be there supporting them, reminding them that kindness and emotional strength are universal, not gendered. But, I’ll also be there to suggest exercise when I see them getting stressed out or upset. I know that punching a pillow or running a mile has certainly cleared my head. I’m sure it could do the same for them. I’ll be there to explain why I chose to stay home and raise them, while their dad found a job in the workforce. For me, it wasn’t BECAUSE I’m a woman that I needed, or wanted to stay home. It was because I one day want to teach and so I engage in educational activities with them and because repetition and poop and pee make me slightly less crazy than my husband.
I’ll let them know I’ll be proud of them for whatever they do when they find themselves in a similar situation.
At the end of the day, it’s about being loving and respectful and being all they are called to be in a world that so desperately needs some light.