When the ultrasound tech asked if we wanted to know the sex of our second child, we said yes. We’d already decided with our first son that the advice that made the most sense was that which suggested that we’d mourn the child who didn’t show up if we waited until birth to find out. I’d been so sick with both pregnancies: 20 hours a day for 5 1/2 months with the first one, and 24 hours a day for what would end up being 7 1/2 months with the second.
I still had hopes of joining the great matriarchal line of my family with a daughter of my own, and I’d been suffering badly with this pregnancy. So when it didn’t even feel like the tech had touched the ultrasound wand to my belly before she announced, “It’s a boy,” I burst out crying. “No, no! He’s okay! Everything looks fine!” she said in a frantic rush, as if she’d never before had a wildly hormonal woman on her table.
“I’m not worried,” I said, waving at the Darling Husband for a tissue. “It’s just another goddamned boy!”
It took me several years to come to peace with the fact that I am, for better or for worse, a Mother of Sons. All my dreams of braids and warrior women and Girl Scouts were exchanged for a clothing section 1/3 the size of the girls’ one and a future of ripe smells and gross habits.
Where I found that hard-won peace, though, was this: I was born to raise sons who are ready to be good men in this world of ours. And they’re amazing so far, if I do say so myself. The people they are have already changed how I feel about so many things, much like Ohio Senator Rob Portman has been changed by the experience of raising a gay son, as we learned this week. And if who we know changes who we are, I’m sure they’re changed by knowing a mother like me. (If only other men would have the transformative experience of knowing a woman….)
Especially this week, it feels like the next generation of men has a great deal to correct for their forebears. So this is my promise to the world, ten years after I began this great endeavor of mothering boys:
I am raising sons who will know that the best way to stop rape is to not rape.
I am raising sons who will wonder why anything would fail the Bechdel Test.
I am raising sons who will believe that consent of every kind is an inalienable human right.
I am raising sons who will stand on the side of love for everyone.
I am raising sons who will know that a mother has a woman’s body and everything that goes with one.
I am raising sons who will not be grossed out by breastfeeding.
I am raising sons who will be capable of comforting without fixing.
I am raising sons who will know how to take criticism and blame as easily as credit.
I am raising sons who will value their own bodies as much as those of others.
I am raising sons who will prefer their romantic encounters in the 1st person plural: “We,” not “I.”
I am raising sons who will leave the damn seat down and dry.
I am raising sons who will know the pleasures of folding warm laundry and cooking for loved ones.
I am raising sons who will understand that all bodies should be as varied and valued as all minds.
I am raising sons who will treat the names and images of fellow humans with as much care as their own.
I am raising sons who will reject carelessness that approaches maliciousness.
I am raising sons who will derive power from the happiness, not control, of others.