When I was expecting my son 16 years ago, the most often asked question was what did I want – a boy or a girl.
I said all I wanted was a healthy baby, and that was not a lie. But part of me secretly wanted a boy because I thought in some ways a boy would be so much easier.
You don’t have to put a little boy’s hair in pigtails or braids. You don’t have to worry about some of the fashion stuff with boys that you do girls, especially as they move into those teen years where the clothes are everything.
There are a lot of things that can be easier when being the mother of boys.
The toys that boys typically want grow exceedingly more expensive. Matchbox cars and Lego sets turn into a variety of video game consoles and the games to match but can still be cheaper than some of the accouterments of a teen girl, based on my own history.
Boys are supposed to love their mothers, while daughters can sometimes butt heads with their moms. Not that I would know anything about that.
But there are still things that can make a mother worry.
Not only are there differences between boys and girls but there are vast differences from when I was a teenager versus now that are a large source of concern.
My teenage years were free from the issues that kids are having to navigate now.
There are so many issues that are not just within their peer group or community but on a global level that can affect them.
As a parent, I can foresee potential dangers and problems that he may not be able to see, but I am the first to give him credit for being a pretty intelligent person and critical thinker.
I am thankful he can think for himself and make his own decisions, even when they are different than mine.
I am thankful he’s got a solid group of kids as his friends.
I am thankful he can stand up for himself when necessary.
But still, I worry.
The world is a lot different than it was 30 years ago.
Social media wasn’t around then, and now it can be a place wrought with negativity and toxicity, especially for kids.
Kids have had to grow up much quicker than I did.
My son is educated on things that I didn’t have a clue about when I was his age.
I didn’t have to be.
I felt like my world, for the most part, was a very sheltered one.
It was one where my worries were simplistic and focused on things like when the next Cure album was coming out and if my family would ever splurge for cable.
Those worries, back then, seemed real to me, but aren’t even close to some of the issues teenagers are facing now.
I worry about what the world will be like in two years, five years, and even beyond that, not so much for myself, but for my child.
I tell my son to be careful with his words, to be kind, to think of the consequences of his actions and he does. He’s still a kid though, so there may be some mistakes.
I tell him that no matter what, I’m on his side, and nothing nor no one can change that fact.
I tell him to always be honest because that is the best way to be and he won’t have to keep any stories straight.
He knows to look someone in the eye when he shakes their hand.
He knows how to be polite and respectful, and has tons of compassion and empathy for others, showing the strengths of a young man, free of toxic masculinity.
Sometimes, I feel like he hasn’t had the opportunity to have a childhood in the way I did.
But then I overhear bits of conversations and hear his laugh and think maybe his childhood is giving him what he needs after all.
Now, when people ask me what I hope my child is when he grows up, I respond that I want him to pursue whatever it is that gives him joy.
And safe and happy – those two things most of all.