Raising a man

I have no qualms admitting that I’ve always thought that I was better suited to raise a daughter.  For my entire life I’ve just related more easily to women and it’s not surprising.  My parents are both one of 5 children and all but one had daughters.  So basically, I was amongst an army of girls and empowered, smart girls at that.  Men, well at least men I’m attracted to, always turn me into gobbley goop.  In fact I’m even surprised that I managed to get married and if I wasn’t, the dating world would have eaten me alive.

So, when I found out that I was having a son, a part of me was a bit nervous.  God, I didn’t even know how to shop for his clothes.  Me.  Not knowing how to shop for clothes.  Well, it’s two years later, I’ve figured all that stuff out and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have C. in my life.  I would never say that he is easy.  When he was in the womb the doctor always marvelled at how strong and fast his heart was.  Well, he came running into the world, ready to live and know everything.  I think he practices the concept of “joie de vivre” better than most people.  But with that strong will comes frustration.  Thankfully, he gets frustrated less easily now because he has the language to articulate his questions, opinions and charm.  To me he’s smart, lovely and at times my everything.  But I am conscious of all the pressures and expectations that he’ll face in his life.  Therefore, I try my best to prepare him for it all, to have the solid foundation of his parents to turn to when he’s finding a place for himself in this world.

I once told one of Andrew’s colleagues that I’ve always wanted a daughter because of my politics and feminist beliefs.  She said something to me then that made so much sense.  A mother of two sons herself she said, “I want to raise kind, good men because I think that’s important too.”  And it’s so true.  We can always use more men who are secure enough to not be intimidated or slighted by strong women.  We need men who love women and themselves, not their ego.  He definitely has a great role model in his father.  My husband has never been afraid to take chances and to find a path that reflects his wants and wishes.  He is secure enough in himself that very few things bother him.

Unfortunately, so much of the performance of masculinity is based on disrespecting others.  So that’s what I’m trying to counter.  In truth, I will be the first to sign him up for hockey, soccer, golf and ski lessons.  It’s not necessarily because I expect him to act a certain way, I just want him to be around driven people and to be inspired by them.  What’s wrong with expecting excellence in yourself?  People speak so much of the negativity of pressure but there are positives to competition too.  I will try to teach him to acknowledge his fears but to overcome them.  Because lets face it, growing up as a male in North America he will be taught soon enough that he can’t fear anything.  There are always rewards to performing a certain type of masculinity and I want him to find himself amongst all of that but to strive for more.  So he’ll play the piano, learn to appreciate art and what makes the world beautiful and worthwhile.  I hope that he will understand his privilege and the different (not lesser) state of others in the world.

Because there’s going to be a point when my job will be done and he’s going to have to decide what is right or wrong for him.  I’m just trying to equip him with the empathy, morals and values to influence those choices.  That’s when I hope our relationship will change.  Where we are there for him as parents but that he will have his own life and privacy, much like we have ours.  This is when we can’t and won’t really judge his decisions anymore.  I’ve always told my husband that I’ll know that we’ve done a good job if he wants to vacation with us, to spend time with us.  But at the moment he’s my snuggle monster and that’s my favourite part of the day.  It’s when we’re lounging in bed, when he’s in my arms telling me about his friends, toys and snacks at daycare.  You, me and Freud know that this won’t last forever but I hope that he’ll grow up not being afraid to treat others well, that it doesn’t make him a lesser person.  Knowing that love does not make him weak.

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