I am the mother of four children: three girls and then a boy. In the early years of this motherhood I was overwhelmed with pink. Pink gowns and pink teddy bears and pink headbands with tiny pink rosettes. And since baby after baby of the female persuasion came along those same pink gowns and teddies and headbands stuck around the house as hand-me-downs for many, many years. When finally a little one with boy parts made his way into our lives I didn’t know what to do with myself. Him being the final piece of our family, I gave away all things pink and tiny. In their places, little denim overalls and blue fuzzy sleepers and itty bitty socks with masculine creatures like dinosaurs printed on them started cycling through the laundry. As the new mother of a son, the novelty of blue was welcome in our previously pink house. What I failed to realize back then was that with the blue came a whole new world of parenting.
Six years in, I can take you on a virtual tour of our home, pointing out scars my son has left in his wake. There is the dining room chair, for starters, missing a spindle from that time—as a toddler—my son knocked the chair over as he stood in it. There are countless dings in the walls, evidence of the times he’s crashed into them while disobediently running through the halls. And if you look closely enough you might still be able to make out the blood stains on our back patio—bitter reminders of his first bike accident. All of this damage—these dings and bruises—caught me off guard. I was anything but prepared for the nuances of boyhood.
Those things, though, were nothing compared to the loop he threw me for this week. I was going through the papers he brought home from school the other day when I happened upon a little book, its construction paper cover thickly-covered in the block letters his first grade teacher has been working so hard to teach him. The book was titled, “Jayce’s Family Culture” and it offered the reader a brief glimpse into Jayce’s perspective of his family. As I peeled back the cover, I thought I was in for a treat. As it turned out, I was in for something alright, though a treat might not be the right word.
On his introductory page, my son drew a picture of both my husband and I. As you might expect, his artistic renditions of us were in the form of stick figures. What you might not expect was that his stick figure versions of us included details of our anatomy that none of my daughters ever thought to accentuate in their stick people drawings.
I was concerned at first, so I did what any modern mother would do and turned to Facebook for advice. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but I can honestly tell you that I did not expect the onslaught of empathy I received from other mothers of boys. This is a stage, they assured me. It’s totally a boy thing, they said. Mother after mother offered assurance that—indeed—what I was experiencing was nothing new in the world of parenting a boy.
While I feel slightly relived that all those months of breastfeeding aren’t to blame, I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with this realization I’ve been woken up to . And oh don’t I know that those masculine hormones are only going to intensify as he ages.
It wasn’t long ago that I thought the breakage, the bruises and the blood were going to be the most difficult things to get used to. I’m not so sure anymore. Perhaps pink wasn’t so overwhelming after all.