I’m a Boy Mom, and I Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way

“I’ll be a boy mom one day. I just know it.”

Even in high school, I would always assure my friends that I’d be the one with the mini van full of soccer gear in the trunk. The one complaining about bedrooms reeking of dirty socks and too much Axe spray. 

It wasn’t like I didn’t see it coming, this whole boy mom thing.

Yet, still, as Joe and I waited hand in hand for the tech to announce the gender of our second baby, I caught myself clinging to the idea that I was expecting a baby girl. After all, even as little girls we are taught that the perfect family is made up of “one of each”. I couldn’t help but wonder what my daughter would look like. If she’d have my eyes, her Daddy’s nose…

When the tech smiled, pointed to the screen, and said, “Yup, its a boy”, I immediately shut my eyes. I can’t lie and say I wasn’t a little disappointed, initially, to find out our family wouldn’t be as “picture perfect” as I’d convinced myself to believe it could be. And then the guilt crept in: how could I even have these thoughts when some women would give anything, literally anything, for a healthy baby of any gender? 

The disappointment faded quickly. On our car ride home, I acknowledged the fact that I’d soon be the boy mama I’d always known I’d be. It was a relief to know we were set on baby clothes and knew what to expect in terms of boy “things”. By the time we got home, I was already on Pinterest browsing boy nursery ideas.

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Ever since having Noah, I can’t even begin to tell you how many of our friends have asked us if we were hoping for a girl. But, also, how many of our friends have confided in us about their initial disappointment after finding out the gender of their second child.

If you’re reading this post and you can relate, I want you to stop feeling guilty for feeling what you’re feeling. You are not alone. I’m a big believer that you need to confront what upsets or saddens you in order to rid yourself of the negative energy and move on. Processing the gender in your own way, even mourning it, will only give you the space to start fresh, with new excitement.

What I want to share with you today is that if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing. I get to raise brothers two years apart. It wasn’t sunshine and butterflies from day one, believe me, but a year into this sibling thing, I am starting to see the most incredible friendship bloom between my boys. It’s so beautiful.

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When we first brought Noah home, Liam made it clear he wouldn’t accept it. It took months for me to feel comfortable leaving them in the same room, or even be able to take a photo of them sitting side by side. It wasn’t love at first sight, let’s just put it that way. As worried as I was that Liam would never outgrow this resentment for his baby brother, I told myself that this was probably what happened when you had two kids under two. A lot of it is a patience game. You just wait for them to outgrow things.

Over the past few weeks, Noah has been standing on his own and taking a few uncertain steps, and Liam has slowly been showing us some more reasonable, mature facets of his personality (Do I dare say we are out of the three-nager phase?). I’ve taken a step back when the boys interact, without always worrying about Noah’s safety, and it’s been fascinating to watch their relationship develop. Noah always idolized his big brother. Liam can do no wrong in his eyes. When we take family photos, only Liam can make Noah crack a smile or a giggle.

Liam, on his end, has lately become nurturing, playful, and proud of his baby brother. He sprints over to me in the mornings, as I sip my lukewarm coffee, to announce that Noah is awake, or standing on his own without holding on to the edge of the couch. Together, they belly laugh over one of Noah’s weird noises, or when they play “who can squeal the loudest” during bath time. My favorite is when Liam tickles his baby brother, being mindful to only caress him with the tips of his fingers like a feather. Or when, unprompted, he wraps his arms around his brother, mid-crawl, and they both stay still, so still, as if savoring the closeness.

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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