I am the mother of one awesome boy.
I grew up as one of three girls, the daughter of one of three girls, who was the daughter of an only child who was the daughter of three girls (and one boy, ironically). My maternal side is very girl-heavy, and girls I know.
When my first baby was born and she was a girl, this was, of course, bittersweet. I had spent the pregnancy "sure" she was a boy. There is no doubt in my mind now that this certainty was the result of my own uncertainty of what I would actually do with a boy. I had babysat for boys, taught boys, been friends with boys, even married a boy (we were only 19 when we met), but to raise a boy? This would take some thought.
Upon delivering a girl (whom I would not get to keep) it all came crashing down: this insane, maternal urge to parent a daughter. It seemed so beautiful, so poetic. So cozy. I longed for a small version of myself, someone I would understand and cherish. Some of this was the result of the loss, a natural urge to long for what you cannot have. But some of it is what I imagine most mothers have. They just want to have a girl.
The next time around, I wasn't sure what to hope for or expect. Another girl would be super, and I wanted to have a girl someday so desperately.... but I feared so much that people would think I was replacing Charlotte. When Liam was born and he was, indeed, a boy, I felt I somehow expected this. Attachment came easily and there was no confusion about who was who and what was what. Having somebody completely different worked beautifully for my grief-stricken mind. What it would be "like" to parent a boy didn't make it onto my radar at that point. I took a big, deep breath and sucked him right into the center of my heart.
He was a boy, but I still felt like a girl-mom. My first child had been a girl, and all around me there were people with babies and daughters and I still wasn't sure what to make of my son. There was no regret, that I can be sure of, but at that point he was a baby. A beautiful, adorable little baby who happened to have a penis. I couldn't wrap my mind around him actually turning from baby into boy, and what that would mean for me as a mother. I kept imagining (and still do) this tiny little fluffy-headed baby as a sixteen year old, towering over me and offering me an embarrassed hug. It made me blush. I felt in love in a way I really hadn't ever fathomed.
As he grew from a baby into a toddler, Liam blossomed into a curious, thoughtful little boy. He was always emotionally available, easily able to express what he was feeling and what he needed. He loved dinosaurs, Robin Hood, and heavy machinery. Every car ride was an adventure to see what construction equipment or farm equipment we might see out the window. He loved to be busy, and run and play, but was also very cerebral, enjoying long hours on the couch with his mama reading and cuddling. He snuggled like no man I'd ever known before. He was full of stories and laughs and great ideas and was cooperative and kind and polite. He was my son. I could hardly believe these words. My son.
My son isn't such a little boy anymore. He's almost eight, and somewhere between five and six he stopped pretending to vacuum with the baseball bat and became incredibly athletic. He loves soccer, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, and basketball. He'll throw a frisbee, run a few miles on the track, and ride his bike for hours. He's incredibly fun to be around. He loves to be busy and he loves the contest, but mostly he just loves the game. Inside we'll play Monopoly, cribbage, chess, or Uno. He'll throw a ball against the wall and catch it with his glove or whack a little ball with his hockey stick until one of us goes crazy from the noise and makes him stop. He'll curl up on the couch and read Harry Potter for an hour and half. He'll knit a hat in the car on the way to New Hampshire to visit my parents. He's a person. He's amazing, and he's my son.
I have been gifted with three more daughters, and I'm lucky and privileged to have each and every one of them. I'm almost certain that if I'd never had Liam, and only had the girls, that I would have smugly thought that girls were pretty fantastic and that I wasn't missing out on anything. But oh, how sorely mistaken I would have been. I am so grateful to be the mother of a son, and I'm so grateful to my son for everything he has taught me and for everything he will teach me in the future. I'm so happy to have someone to run hard with and take to game after game and shoot sports stats back and forth with. I loved the days of identifying heavy machinery and farm equipment and categorizing matchbox cars.
I love boys. If you're lucky enough to have one, I bet you do, too.
(Liam, somewhat exasperated at my attempts to get a perfect photo of him. Even the eye rolling is endearing in a son.)