Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cringing On The Mothering of Boys

Happy belated Mother's Day.

People with tremendous impulse control wait for the gender of their child to be revealed at birth. They believe that knowing the sex during pregnancy results in no surprise for the parents-to-be.

Some common platitudes:

“You only have a few real surprises in life; enjoy the joy of the surprise!”
“Good health is all that matters.”

But we impatient folk still do experience surprise. It is just months earlier. Instead of hearing the doctor shout, “It’s a boy!”, when handing a goopy newborn over, we find out while a technician looks at a blurry, gray, ultrasound screen.

With our first son, my husband and I disagreed about finding out. Marty wanted to wait. See above platitudes. But since his belly wasn’t being stretched to the point of no return, my impatience prevailed. Marty presented a compromise: have the technician write down the gender on a slip of paper, and then we would ride to the beach and open it up there. If we had thought to bring background Bruce Springsteen music —it could have been a perfect Jersey shore vignette.

I stuck the folded paper in my pocket. Marty and I had driven separately to the office. In the parking lot, he put his hand out for it.

“No way. I know you will open it in the car.” He was right. I would have. I handed it over.

Marty’s patience paid a great dividend. I have a wonderful memory of opening that piece of paper (It’s a boy!) on the Spring Lake boardwalk, and immediately calling my brother, Scott, to report. The beach wind whooshed around my ears and I had to yell it more than once for him to hear me. Scott was elated, excited. My brother never had the chance to meet my son, so my persistence paid off too. Before Scott left this earth, he knew he was an uncle to a little boy named Christopher.

The second time around, we didn’t orchestrate a ceremonious oceanfront reveal. We found out in the bland doctors office. It’s a boy!, round two.

A cringe passed through me. A serious insecurity fizzle. This plurality made me THE MOTHER OF BOYS. I wasn’t sure if I could be any good at that. A theory formed in my mind as the technician zoomed in on her evidence: an excellent mother of boys should be a tall, strong, muscular, athletic woman—the kind of lady who can throw a kayak up on a roof rack, change a flat tire, drive stick shift, and whistle with two fingers in her mouth at sporting events. She is a woman who feels very comfortable in the bleachers screaming (at fishmonger pitch) things like “Good eye!” and “Now that’s getting a piece of it!” Even if my boys don’t turn out to be athletes, they might follow after their father and be interested in science. A proficient mother of boys should excel at creating science fair projects, shouldn’t she? I have a serious spatial relations deficiency; I struggle to make a paper airplane.

Even though I have not developed any rough and tumble qualities since boy #2, I don’t worry or cringe anymore, because these little males make me feel like a rock star. They are completely unaware of my miscasting.


  1. I did not realize mooning started so young!

  2. I can totally relate I always thought I would be the mother of boys shouting out "good hit" and have found myself uncomfortably in the land of princesses!

  3. so I'm guessing I am another miscasted mother of boys and I agree...It makes me feel like a rock star! Thank you Tracey for your totally relatable story!

  4. Tracy,
    Again you you bring a smile to me. The best is not your getting the casting award, which I know you deserve, but those cute little natural boys! Great Shot!

  5. Boys always love their Moms - daughters grow up to hate theirs, so at least we don't have to deal with that! boys look at their Moms with love, gratitude, and warmth in their eyes. They want to make us proud. They share everything with us - they confide in their mothers, hiding things from their fathers afraid they will disapoint them. I can't whistle or do any of those things, but I do feel like a rock star now that I have him in my life! You are an awesome Mom of those two boys and you are their everything!