Monday, April 19, 2010
It's a boy!
I was afraid of all the things mothers and daughters have to discuss and fight about and bond over. I didn't want to have to describe the double-standard that still exists in this world, and would possibly exist in my house, despite my own best intentions. I didn't want to be the model for anyone else, barely understanding what it means to be a woman myself. I didn't want to worry about mean girls or mean boys telling my daughter she was ugly or fat or not good enough. Somehow I don't worry about this for my boys. (double-standard, I know). I didn't want to worry about her getting pregnant before her time, or sexually assaulted or any of those gender-power sexual situations that just feel uncomfortable (at best) or downright threatening and violating (at worst). I just didn't want to deal with all that stuff. Not with body image or pink princess crap or all the 'lady-like' stuff I sometimes forget to do myself. I don't want to be a model for what it means to be a woman, a partner, a mother, a daughter, a girl friend. (Although I fully realize that I will model those things for my sons and may someday hate the younger version of me they bring home.)
With boys I get to worry about them being a bully or bullying, driving too fast or stupidly, finding innumerable ways to risk their lives and the lives of others, being picked on for being 'gay' or not tough enough, being the jerky guy who breaks the girls' hearts or worse...you get the idea. You have worries with boys but somehow they seem more manageable to me as a mother.
And so why do I bring this up now? Well, I read a great essay by Peggy Orenstein in the New York Times Magazine about her fears of raising a daughter who would inherit all of her food and body image issues. And I thought, I am so glad I don't have to deal with all of that.
People always say that boys are easier to raise than girls. But I wonder, are they really easier or do we just let them get away with more, worry a little less about them, encourage more independence from them, and expect different behaviors from our sons and daughters? I think its a real mess of cultural norms, gender roles, real preferences and fear of sexuality in general, but with extra fear and loathing for female sexuality. I can't puzzle it out. I just know that I bought into that cultural cliche enough to be relieved at the sign of a tiny little phallus.