February 20, 2014

Why I Was Scared To Have A Son & How It Healed Me.

boy with dog pixoto

Confession; When I found out I was having a boy, I was inconsolable.

I was about six months pregnant at the doctor’s office with my husband and my then 11 year old step daughter, Maggie, the only one of five stepchildren (four girls and one boy) who was in any way excited for her new sibling.

(That would change after he was born and became the beloved straw that stirs the family drink—but that’s another tale.)

I had been certain I was having a girl. Looking back, I have no idea why I actually felt that way, but I know why I wanted to. My experiences with men, generally speaking, had not been great.

There was my dad, who didn’t have much use for girls—or women—except as pretty things who generally cost more money than we were worth. (Like my step kids, his attitude has changed for the better over time, but early on he was, let’s say, pathologically old fashioned.)

Then there was the string of guys I glommed on to all throughout middle school, high school and college, who were, in one respect or another, different iterations of my dad, and then the grand finale of the first man I married, who was a straight up abusive misogynist.

By the time I got together with my second husband, I was confused and bruised, and so sick of trying to figure men (and myself) out, I just wanted to be surrounded by women already.

The thought of having a boy growing inside me—a boy I was responsible for loving and raising—was more frightening than the prospect of leaping out of an airplane with an improperly packed parachute. Plus, I really wanted to buy cute little girl clothes.

What the hell was I supposed to with a sweaty, stinky boy?

I grew up with a  brother, I knew the deal. They liked sports, and cars, and pornography—yuck, yuck and yuck. They didn’t brush their hair or their teeth unless repeatedly threatened, they peed all over the place and any old time they wanted, they farted on you, laughed at you, were stronger than you, better at math than you and hated you just because you were a girl.

And this was the creature—nay, the monster—I was bringing into the world?

I horrified my mother by announcing I was painting the nursery black. I cried and ran out of my prenatal yoga class when all the other yoginis revealed they were having girls. I stocked up on gender neutral onesies, hoping for a miracle.

And then my son was born.

Fortunately for everyone involved, when boys are born, they are not really boys, they are sweet, helpless babies. They gaze up into your eyes with complete candor and punch the air around your face endearingly, their small hot bodies wiggling against your own, their faces snuffling around the tender skin of your neck, all the while enveloping you in the smell of their aching newness and the first of many soft syllables they will utter, “eh, eh, eh.”

Because this creature was not “boy” but “baby”—despite the tiny trucks and rocket ships already crowding his toy box—it was easy to set aside my negativity.

I realize now my pre-birth mindset was similar to a soldier going to war; i.e. the “enemy” was a stereotype; nameless, faceless and thus easy to fear—and fight. But once I saw the enemy was a person just like me, with a voice and a heart just like my own, fighting seemed unreasonable, fear evaporated and what remained was love.

Now, when I look at men I see something much different than I used to. They are no longer the fathers, the brothers and the lovers who wounded me, they are simply people, who were once children and who have been wounded somewhere along the line themselves.

And though my son is better at math than me, pees all over the place and any old time he wants to, and enjoys nothing more than cars and flatulence (he’s too young for porn—at least I hope so), I would never ever wish him to be one molecule other than what he is.

The only thing I’ve really missed are the girl-y baby clothes, but there are always granddaughters to make up for that.


Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!


Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Alisa German/Pixoto  




Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Erica Leibrandt  |  Contribution: 69,905