Friday, 21 June 2013

Being The Mother Of A Son

Back when I was pregnant with the Doctor, a good friend said to me, half aghast, half horrified - "What are you going to do if it's a boy?"

I was taken aback. I was delighted to be pregnant. I considered my pregnancy the best gift of my life. I barely gave the "What sex is it?" dialogue any airtime in my mind. But when my friend asked this, I was  definitely shocked. I didn't give two hoots whether I was carrying a boy OR a girl. I remember after  giving birth, holding that newborn on my chest - in sheer relief, delight, and exhaustion  - it wasn't until my sister prompted me that I took a look to see if we had a baby boy or girl. 

In answer to my friend: I was going to parent my child to the best of my ability. Regardless of sex. I was going to do the best job I possibly could. 

I've long been an avid fan of Steve Biddulph. In fact, it's been eight years since I discovered the  wisdom of Steve Biddulph. When I was pulling together ideas for this post, I was a little hell-bent on getting in touch with him. I went through his publisher, Twitter, Facebook, Google, and finally his talent agent before I was finally able to make  contact. When I saw that pop up in my inbox my heart literally skipped a beat. 

Kindly Steve has provided some insight into his early work as a family therapist.

"As a family therapist way back in the 1980s it was clear that men were often the dysfunctional ones in families, and that rather than just blame them, we needed to offer more help to find their voices and bring back their hearts to be available to their partners and children.  The book Manhood proved this was true, so many men found it moving and helpful, and we began to then think - how can we prevent the way society damages men in the first place. 

Raising Boys was the result of that, and for twenty five years I have carried that message to as many people as possible in talks and workshops.  Mothers especially appreciate understanding that their boys do need teaching how to be kind, helpful, and at the same time keep that boy energy - that it's not bad, just in need of ways to be expressed.  Schools have let boys be more active, and many parents don't rush their little boys into school, waiting until they are really ready.  Its clear that they develop more slowly and in a different sequence to most girls. 

"Gross motor first, fine motor last".   And as dads have become more involved - today's father spends on average three times as much time with his children as the last generation - both boys and girls feel their fathers love them, and want to be more like him.   If we want good men, we have to start with little babies, love them, teach them, engage them and show them."

I grew up as one of three sisters. I don't have a brother. I'm not a man. What do I know about parenting a son?

It turns out: a lot. I'm learning daily.

My son is gentle, thoughtful, kind. He loves reading. He's mad for LEGO. He's inquisitive. Chatty. He really likes to chat. I'm careful not to tell him to stop talking. I want him to keep talking to me. 

He's smart. Funny. Fun. Cuddly. He likes wearing green, on green, on green. I let him - because that's self-expression. 

Sometimes he needs a gentle nudge to try something new. Sometimes he needs a gentle nudge to tidy his room. Or put his clothes in the laundry. Most of the time he is pure awesome.

He'd like to not wash his hair regularly. 
He'd probably eat choc-mint ice cream for every meal if he could. (Me too.)
He asks me to tuck him in about 32 times each night. 

I see glimpses of him as a teenager, and it makes me feel nervous. 
I see glimpses of him as an adult, and it makes me feel excited. 


In answer to my friend's question: "What am I going to do if it's a boy?"

Fall in love madly, hug him like crazy, listen to him speak, kiss him as much as I can, tell him he's brilliant, teach him it's most important to be kind, help keep his dreams afloat, let him cry if he wants to, hold him when he's sad, teach him to tidy up, let him make messes in the kitchen and rumble and raspberry on the bed before bedtime. 

We want to celebrate the good men in the world. Read more 'Being the mother of a son' posts today at the following blogs. Together we've banded together to talk boys & men (but not Boyz II Men):

Meet Me At Mikes
Checks and Spots
Mrs Smith
Sadie and Lance
One Flew Over
Pigeon Pair
Hugo and Elsa
Gourmet Girlfriend


Alison said...

Words well written, Lexi.
Will now move 'Raising Boys' off the 'Do List' and get a copy onto the bedside table...
At 44, I won biology lotto and now mother a hilarious, imaginative, snotty, full of beans and complex little boy. Was so sure I was going to be bringing up a girl...
Had that happened, I might have missed out on cultivating shared bum jokes, playing bathroom cricket and doing 'run up & jumps' into puddles...
Have read your blog many times, and laughed, cried and lots of things in between. Thanks for your thoughtful, witty and life affirming posts.

Briggy12 said...

I am just catching up with Potty Mouth Mamma after a few weeks away, and read this post. As the mother of two sons, it made me teary just reading it. People often say to me, don't you want to try again for a girl, answer is no. I'm a girl myself, I love girls, but my two boys are such a delight I am fullfilled by their energy, noise, cuddles, cheekiness, ingenuity, liveliness, sweetness and love. Yes, I'm a bit fearful of when they become teenagers and may not want to talk to me for a while, but for now, we can talk, laught , giggle, play and learn toegther. When my three year old climbs into bed every morning, wraps his arms around my neck and proclaims "your'e the best mummy in the whole wide world"...I feel privelledged to be involved in raising two little gentlemen into (hopefully) kind, thoughtful, funny and respectful young men...thanks for celebrating boys!!!