Lately, several of my girlfriends who have daughters my son’s age have been proclaiming me to be “very lucky.” This statement is often followed by a sigh, a quick text on a cell phone and a long gulp of wine. I have been assured that their teenage daughters are wearing them down. Top of the list: boyfriends, college picks, wardrobe, eye rolling and as a separate category from wardrobe; prom dresses.
Me, lucky? Are they kidding? “Ladies”, I tell my friends, “you have no idea how good you have it!”
I hadn’t planned on getting married, never mind have children. On the rare occasion I thought of kids, I pictured chestnut haired, green-eyed beauties who I would raise to be awareness heightened third generation feminists with book smarts accompanied by decent fashion sense that led to the purchase of multiple season leather boots. Imagine my surprise when, eight months pregnant I find myself in the hospital with an ultrasound technician, my obstetrician and husband. My baby is breech. Therefore my OBGYN attempts a VERY painful on-top-of-the-belly manual manipulation to turn the darling girl I am carrying to a head down position instead of the current butt down position. The technician says “This baby is REFUSING to be turned. In fact, the more we attempt to move the baby to the PREFERRED position, YOUR baby wiggles his/her butt more firmly into your cervix. (We both sigh) Are you sure you don’t want to know what the sex is?” My husband and I had decided to get the surprise at the end (8 months of my Italian lady coworkers with hands on my belly-“Oh it’s a girl!”) Since the manual manipulation was a failure, I give in, succumb to something joyful. “Yes! Tell me about my little girl!” I say. “Well, first of all the baby is a boy.” My heartbeat slows. Beat One: The OBYGN and my husband Hi-Five each other. Beat Two my body goes slack and I feel a little dizzy “A what?” “Oh yes, he is DEFINITELY a boy. Look at that, he is showing us his penis.” She directs my gaze to the ultrasound monitor.
Excellent. I was not just having a boy, but an stubborn exhibitionist.
Goodbye pink hair ribbons, hello drum set.
I come from a family of mostly women. I enjoyed a girl-centric childhood full of dance recitals, “Little House on the Prairie” books and the illusion that I was Samantha from Charlie’s Angels. None of those prepared me to be the mother of boys. For one thing, they don’t really care for dance recitals. They prefer to beat each other up in the yard with sticks. They also like to leave balled up socks around the house, empty the kitchen of food like locusts every 48 hours, aim to the left of the toilet, loudly share fart jokes and keep their social lives secure from prying Mom eyes. My seventeen year old could teach the NSA about containment.
In defense of boys, there is very little drama and no prom dress decision stress. However there is a Zero Tolerance Policy for Mom-hugging (Instead, I have perfected a “I’m not his Mom in public” stance: chew gum and scroll cell phone for messages. I am there yet NOT there.) I also will never talk to my daughter about her first date, hear her giggle with girlfriends or watch my husband walk her down the aisle. My friends touch my hand and say “Ooh! But boys are GREAT in OTHER ways, right?”
Last weekend my seventeen year old and I jumped in my car for the mall. Zipping down the road, he turned on Pandora and said he was about to school me in good music. Once upon a time I made mixed-tapes from the radio and consider myself well versed in classic rock. “Have you heard this one, Mom”? Suddenly Cake filled the sound waves and “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” immediately became my new favorite song. I looked over at him, so comfortable in his skin, relaxing and simply enjoying the day. Mom and son singing together.
Not a rolling eye in sight.