There’s a new little man in town and we call him “Monkey”. Just last month my wife delivered another healthy boy and we couldn’t be happier. Or more tired. This two kid gig is no joke.
I’ve been entirely engaged with the idea of raising a son from the moment I wrestled my gaze from Yogi’s face and discovered that we had ourselves a boy. Initially this “engagement” looked a lot like panic – “Oh no! What are we going to do with a boy?!!”. Coming from a childhood filled with babysitting and lots of cousins, I thought I knew a thing or two about kids, but somehow all the kids in my experience had been girls. Every last one of them. Take that probability theory! In spite of my lack of preparation I’ve been confident in my ability to rise to the parenting occasion and so far, so good.
Now that we’re almost two years into life with son I’m loving it and last month when Monkey revealed himself as son #2, I was over the moon. Not only does Yogi have a brother, but my wife and I are the parents of boys. Plural. This is still sinking in. As it does, there two ideas that continue to run around and around in my mind.
While there are clearly more immediate issues related to two women raising boys (think potty training), my detail-averse self launches right into the big picture.
I May Never have a Daughter
Although Parker and I haven’t made any firm decisions about the ultimate size of our family, it is certainly possible that Monkey will be our last baby. As much as I’m loving these boys, the possibility that I may not have a daughter is a sad one. There is no way to know how the reality of raising these children will unfold, but I imagine there are things I will not experience unless I have a daughter. This anticipation of loss doesn’t stem from anything like bra buying or walking someone down the aisle, but rather from the expectation that I might share a kind of intimacy with a daughter that might not be possible (or welcome?) with a son. There is of course no way to know how any relationship will evolve and relying on a kind of sterotyping shorthand to make predictions is both myopic and limiting (such is the way with stereotypes), but to deny the feeling would be false. It’s on my mind, it’s in my heart and for now I’ll just have to be patient with the not knowing.
The Emotional Life of Boys
To call this unfamiliar territory would be a gross understatement. Not only am I am only child, part of an almost exclusively female extended family, a lesbian, someone’s whose favorite course to teach was The Psychology of Women AND the graduate of a women’s college, I can also (surprise, surprise) count my close male friends on one hand. Ok, one finger. Taken together this can only mean that my understanding of men and what it means to be male in this time and place is in the not so much range. Clearly, this needs to change.
In my own consuming obsessions way I’m reading everything on the subject that I can get my hands on. And yes, I do plan to venture beyond the book and deepen my relationships with some great guys that are already in our life. I’ve got a lot to learn and I’m eager to find out as much as I can. Suddenly my long held kinship with Virginia Woolf and her assertion that “Women alone stir my imagination” doesn’t feel as fitting. Boys are the new black at my house. Babies really do change everything.
Alison Armstrong* is a Southern, Stay-at-home-Mom getting used to life outside of academia and raising a child, Yogi*, with her wife, Parker*. You can follow her family’s adventures at her blog, Love Invents Us.
*Names have been changed in order to honor a flair for the dramatic and to play nice with the family.