Sunday, August 2, 2009

On having a son

Before Leigh was born, we were so convinced we were having a boy, that I was sure I got it wrong when I told Gail that Leigh was a "she" at the birth. I had to ask for another peek.

I think the main reason we were so "sure" was that we were trying to get ourselves used to the idea that we might be parenting a boy. Neither Gail nor I have any brothers. Gail is an only child. I'm the middle of three girls. For goodness sake we're lesbians. We were understandably intimidated at the prospect of a son.

While we would have been thrilled with a baby boy, it is also true that Leigh being born a girl felt a bit like a reprieve.

We knew that Ira was going to be a boy before he arrived. When we found out, my mind raced to all sorts of things. I immediately thought about real-estate since our two-bedroom condo now can't last us forever (though room sharing will work fine for quite a while). I cringed at the thought of organizing a bris 8 days after birth. I wondered how many of Leigh's clothes I'd really be willing to put on a boy, despite my ostensibly progressive ways.

A few weeks ago, Gail and I got some precious time just with Leigh (thanks Grandma!), and walked to a nearby square. A young man with a guitar, and coloring like Ira's, was there playing sweet songs. We sat for a long time on a nearby bench and listened. Leigh snuggled with both of us, asked lots of questions, danced, and delivered our tip to the jar. I found myself tearing up to think that someday our baby could be a young man like this young man. Maybe he'll play guitar for tips in the square. Or maybe he'll be like the tough-looking teenager on the train, who looked far too cool to care about a little kid, but then proceeded to play a game with Leigh, were he moved his baseball cap from his knee, to his foot, to his head and back to his knee. He had her in fits of giggles.

It's not that we haven't seen plenty of young male musicians on the streets around here before now. And it's not that I don't have plenty of positive interactions with men day-to-day (I work in a male dominated field, and my colleagues are great). It's that now when I see these young men, I realize that someday the world of young men will have something to do with me. Until Ira was born, that was pretty much never going to be the case.

For now at least, instead of feeling intimidating, this feels like Ira is opening a door to a new world for us.


Strawberry said...

That's how we feel, too. Personally I had a lot of issues with it before he was born, but now that he's here, I feel happy in ways I couldn't have foreseen and my notion of gender roles has been greatly challenged, a gift for sure.

Ruth said...

It makes me cry to think ahead to when our children are adults. I hope they will be really good ones.

Sarah Friedmann said...

I have had the same fears - and we don't even had kids yet!
FYI from Jill's experience, since she grew up with a brother: they shared a room until she was 9ish, and he was 11 or 12 because of space. When their parents added on to the house, they got separate rooms but were devastated! They had to sleep with doors open at night so they could see eachother across the hall. I'm sure it would have gotten awkward later in the teens, but no worries on real estate just yet. :D

Bus Chick said...

Aw... What a sweet story.

I'm straight, had two brothers I adored (and, incidentally, one sister I didn't), but I am still intimidated at the prospect of a boy. (Not sure what I'm having, but preparing myself.) I feel a closeness with my daughter that I can't imagine sharing with a boy. That said, I'm sure that I'll end up loving the little unique person I'm given, no matter what the gender.

I, too, am worrying about clothes (our daughter received a lot of pink, girly hand-me-downs that, despite claiming to be open about that stuff, I'm not going to put on a little boy—didn’t even want to put them on her) and room-sharing issues.

Good luck!

JenLF said...

Aw, that's lovely. I desperately wanted J to be a boy, and didn't realize how much I wanted a girl til A turned out to be one. I'm thrilled to death to have both, but I'm sensitive to the differences in the way people treat them--for example, my feminist-but-femme-lesbian sister always says to A, "Hi, pretty girl!" No one ever said that to J.

I used to claim that I'd put J in pink and dresses (or pink dresses) but now that he's here, I'm unwilling. I find that it's much less difficult to put A in J's hand-me-downs, however.

Katarina Whimsy said...

My little brother wore a fair number of my lovely-pink nighties up through at least being four or five --they were comfortable, and fit him. He's since turned out to be your standard hetero, male, geek, so it didn't seem to have messed him up any.

((I can't remember how much of my other clothes he wore as a baby, being as I was only two, but I'd suspect it to be a surprisingly high amount. I seem to recall mom saying something about just going "thank you" and laughing later when people told him what a pretty little girl he was as an infant))

I've not shared a room within memory, with him *or* my little sister, so I can't help there. But I do very advocate the idea of *everyone* regardless of age or sibling status, having a space where they can shut the door on the rest of the world occasionally. It's nice.


Anonymous said...

This post really hits home for me as I am an only as well and have had limited interactions with little boys. Before we started IUI's I always assumed I would have a girl but given the statistics with IUI, I have readied myself for a boy instead. It's been interesting to start looking at young men and imagining that someday my son could be like this one or like that one. Like you I wonder how my boy (if I have a boy) will turn out and how parenting him will differ from parenting the girl I always imagined.

timaree said...

I love this post because I walk around thinking much the same thing myself. I see the wonderful man my brother is and how he interacts so sweetly with my mom, and I realize, Wow, we get to have that too. But I also see it in strangers--in the really cool young men we see on the street, in my students, even in my adult male friends--and it is so special to know that we get to be part of this world of men. I'm so glad that you are seeing what you are about your boy as well.

BTW, have you read Raising Boys Without Men? It's a great (but small) study of how boys of lesbian moms and single moms tend to turn out. It's inspiring reading.

Dirk Awesome said...

I am having much of the same thoughts now that I know I am carrying a boy. It wasn't my first choice, but it's going to stretch who I am. - Skye (not Dirk)