When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember a colleague approaching me and saying she thought I was going to be a “boy mom.” My husband and I didn’t know what we were having, and I didn’t have any real strong intuition that the child I was carrying was a boy or a girl.
Truthfully, at that time, I had a hard time adjusting to the reality that I was going to be a parent!
My baby girl
We proceeded to register for gender-neutral baby items and do whatever mental and physical preparation we could in anticipation of the arrival of our first child. Then, on the big day, we were blessed with a baby girl.
I fell in love with her right away; and, at the same time, I fell in love with the wonder and joy of motherhood.
My husband and I didn’t go into our relationship planning on a large family. But, as it played out, our little girl ended up with three brothers. Our household is currently dominated by testosterone, especially when you factor into the mix my husband and our 100-pound male German shepherd.
Life with three boys
I feel I have fulfilled that prophesy of being a “boy mom.”
Raising three boys alongside a spirited and independent daughter is proving to be an experience that keeps me on my toes.
Our three boys are each very different. They have three distinct personalities and unique interests and talents. However, they have several notable similarities that unite them in their juvenile masculinity:
- Physicality. We haven’t had any broken bones yet, but we certainly have our fair share of mishaps that have resulted in bumps, bruises, black eyes and/or stitches. My boys wrestle everywhere, including — but not limited to — in our house, in the dirt and in our vehicle. I can say for sure that our boys are certainly more physical in nature than our daughter.
- Potty language. They entertain each other with words like toot, butt, fart, nut and poop.
- Clothing is overrated. My boys are content being half-clothed 90 percent of the time they’re in our home.
- They scatter stuff. Their socks, LEGOs and Nerf darts are sprinkled all around our house like salt and pepper.
- They’re action-oriented. They gravitate toward toys with wheels or other things involving movement and action, such as playing baseball or streaming videos of Dude Perfect. It seems I need to give them almost daily reminders not to play games involving throwing or bouncing balls in my living room.
- Toileting. All three are still working toward 100 percent mastery with their aim.
Our daughter has never been what you would call a “girly girl.” She never played with dolls and rarely preferred a dress to a pair of pants. In fact, she currently holds the record (11!) for the amount of stitches incurred in the ER! (These happened as result of a misstep while playing football in the yard with one of her brothers.)
But she’s our girl and parenting her is very different than parenting our boys.
Some may think it sexist to generalize differences of boys and girls, but I’ve learned there’s validating research and truth to some of these stereotypes.
In the book, Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, author Dr. Leonard Sax highlights notable differences between boys and girls, including how they perceive the world differently, how they learn differently, how they process emotions and how they take risks differently.
The revised and updated edition (2017) includes new findings about how boys and girls interact differently with social media and video games; a new discussion of research on gender-non-conforming and LGBT kids; new findings about how girls and boys see differently, hear differently and even smell differently; and new material about the medicalization of misbehavior.
Reading this book was thought-provoking and gave me — as a parent and an educator — a different perspective, approach and understanding of development.
As a mother to three boys and one daughter, I’m both challenged and entertained daily. I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to parent them. Whatever the gender, dynamics or mix of siblings you have in your family, I encourage you to embrace it. Work through the challenges and look for delight in the lovely mess of parenthood.
Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four children in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at kidsandeggs.com.