Post-Mother’s Day Musings

Mother’s Day was last weekend, and as usual my boys made it very special.  Joe had to work a double-shift Sunday so I didn’t see him all day, but he made up for it Monday by taking me to see “Iron Man” after we all had dinner at TGIFriday’s.  On Mother’s Day itself, Mike, Dennis and I went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant, La Mesa, where I was given a long-stemmed red rose by our waitress.  All mothers who ate there received a rose.  Joe gave me a bouquet of flowers and Mike gave me a book called “Moms.” It is an anthology of interviews done on NPR and has some very touching stories in it.  A great Mother’s Day gift with tears and all.  Dave called from Chicago that evening, so all was well in the world of motherhood. 

I am so blessed to have my boys and I enjoy them so much. 

Looking back on my motherhood experience as well as that of a pediatric nurse, it has been my observation that there are “boy moms” and there are “girl moms.”  I am definitely a “boy mom.”  Oh, a few moms understand both and all moms love their sons and daughters both, but I think “boy moms” understand boys better and “girl moms” understand girls better. Although I would have loved to have had a girl and would have loved her as much, had I had a girl, it would have been different. 

Case in point: At the office Thursday, a mom came in with her 6-year-old son.  During the exam Dr. K extracted two huge wax balls from the boy’s ears.  After the visit, I went in to exam room to get it ready for the next patient.  All the wonderful, colorful, pristine handouts that I had given the mom at the beginning of the visit were still in the room.  But..the two large wax balls that Dr. K had placed in a little medicine cup were gone, taken by the mom and son.  Clearly, she is “boy mom.”  A “girl mom” would have seen no value in the wax and probably would have been repulsed by them.  She would have taken the wonderful handouts home and left the wax, possibly even covering it with a tissue to avoid the sight.

As a “boy mom” myself, I “get” why the other mom took the wax balls.  My favorite Mother’s Days were filled with baseball games and squirt gun fights.  I remember many a Mother’s Day baseball game in Chicago, either minor league or White Sox game (gasp!  Yes, we did go see the Sox play.  This is a horrible secret of our past, being that the boys and I are avid Cubs fans.)  No bouquet from a florist was a lovely as the dandelions I received on a summer’s day.  The pirate birthday party, the dinosaur party, Superman, Batman, Ghostbusters, all wonderful memories of having sons.  I never got to watch “Sleeping Beauty” or “Cinderella,” but I knew all the characters in “HeMan,” saw the “Ninja Turtle” movie (several times!) and almost every action film made from 1988-2005.

A product of the 1960’s, I was determined to raise my sons to be nonchauvanistic, nonstereotypical, non-“macho” boys.  They were going to be well-adjusted men who treated women as equals and didn’t feel threatened by the opposite sex.  They would be secure in their manhood and not view women as sex objects or lesser beings.  The boys had their Matchbox cars, Batman action figures and basketballs, but they also had a tea set and lots of books.  We felt our boys were being raised in a non-sexist wholesome environment.

One day, I looked outside to see 5 year-old David and his cohort who lived across the street performing a strange ritual.  It was then that I realized I had very little control over their gender-specific behavior.  There had to be some innate physiologic influence that differentiated the sexes.  As I watched from the livingroom window, both little boys were standing by the small maple trees in their perspective front yards, looking at each other, David , in our yard next to our tree, and Bobby in his yard across the street in the same position.  Each boy held a yellow plastic baseball bat.  Each boy took turns hitting their maple trees with their bats while letting out a loud primeval yell–AAAAH! (Whack!) AAAAH! (Whack!) Each seemed to be competing with the other.  Who could yell the loudest?  Who could hit the tree the hardest?

I tried to picture two little girls doing the same thing and it just wasn’t happening.  Little girls would regard such behavior as stupid or, at least, nonproductive.  Doing such action wouldn’t even enter a little girl’s mind!

As I reflected on the scene, I realized that, sure, they had a tea set, but it wasn’t used like little girls use their tea sets.  Instead of a proper little table with neatly set dishes, my boys stacked their tea set in various positions, building cities or forts.  Some teacups turned into boats to float in the bathtub or down the gutter along the curb after a rainstorm.  If the set was used in a conventional way, actually pouring water (“tea”) from the pitcher to the cups, it hardly resembled the typical “girl tea party.”  No dainty movements without spills.  More barroom brawl than fine dining.  Seeing David and Bobby was the moment I “got it” as a “boy mom.”  I decided then and there that I was not going to try to change my boys.  I would try to expose them to things that might help them understand the opposite sex but I was also going to enjoy their boyhood and let them be who they are. I may not totally understand some of their actions, but I feel like they possess a basic understanding of humankind and how to relate to people with dignity and respect.  As they have grown into men, I am proud of how they have handled themselves in different situations.  I am a happy “boy mom!”     

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