I see it all the time: lists, articles and blog posts explaining how to be a mom to a boy. As though boys are a different species sharing nothing in common with dainty, proper, sweet little girls.
Except that's nothing like the boys and girls I know, who are prone to be more similar in their freewheeling, mess-making, helter-skelter, tantrum-throwing wonderfulness than they are different.
I have two children: a 3.5-year-old girl and a 9-month-old boy. I don't have a ton of experience parenting boys, but so far, parenting him has been -- in the grand scheme of things -- exactly no different from parenting my daughter, Addie, at this age. I mean, sure, he sleeps better, he's way more chill, he hardly ever cries and he's hitting his gross motor milestones later than she did, but then, that's exactly the stereotype of boys. Oh. Wait. I remember when Addie was a baby, my friends with boy babies were always talking about how they were such boys because they loved balls and knocking things down. Um, so did Addie. Those are pretty typical baby interests.
The latest blog post about being a mom of boys to go viral is "Ten Boy-Mom Musts". The lady has four boys, so I'm sure she knows her stuff and gets boy behavior magnified in a way I never will. But reading through her post, all I could think was, This is exactly like parenting Addie. For example:
1. You must love bath time.
Um, last night Addie had to have a bath before bed because her hair was sticky all over from some unknown substance, her hands and feet were filthy with dirt from playing outside and she had a strange amalgamation of dried food and dust coagulated on her face. Girls get dirty and need baths too. Shocking, I know.
2. You must think farts are funny.
Last week I knelt down to help Addie pull off her pants and she farted right in my face. And laughed about it for at least 10 minutes. I rest my case.
3. You must be prepared for constant -- CONSTANT -- battle with the toilet. By this she means that they make messes with the toilet: "One remembers to put the seat down but not to flush. One remembers to flush but doesn't close the lid. One leaves toilet paper in weird places, like hanging out of the bowl or on the floor (WTF?). And they all sprinkle when they tinkle." Again, girls do this stuff too. Addie only flushes about half the time, there are constantly bits of toilet paper around and she's into this thing where she stands up to wipe, so there's often a bit of pee on the floor around the toilet. Yep, having kids is messy.
4. You must rethink your standards of "safety."
When Addie was 10 months old she ran down the driveway, fell and got road burn all over her face. When she was a year old, she tried to surf the dog and fell into a door and got five stitches on her face. She runs down the stairs so fast it makes my heart do a frantic Irish jig in my chest. And she does this thing where she jumps from the coffee table to the couch, throwing herself wildly about, that I can't even watch. The boy-mom also mentions boys doing gross things like eating dirt and whatnot. Yep, girls do that too. I know plenty of moms of girls who are wild and boys who are more cautious. I'm pretty sure this is a personality thing.
5. You must not be surprised at drama.
What she's saying here is that, "Hey look, boys can be just as dramatic as girls!" So since apparently everyone already admits that girls are dramatic, I'll just leave it at, yes they are, just like boys, and move on.
6. You must be prepared for messes.
The idea that a messy house is reserved for boys is so completely beyond reality that I can hardly bring myself to point out that girls also leave messes ev-er-y-where. She says: "boys are just not that conscientious about tracking in mud, or grass clippings, or getting toothpaste all over the place, or spilling milk." Yep, this is a great description of the messes kids make. Sounds exactly like my house. Welcome to having kids.
7. You must have a lot of food on hand at all times.
I'm pretty sure this is an age thing and Addie is still in the preschooler phase of not wanting to eat all that much, so I can't speak directly to this (the boy-mom has older boys). But snacking all the time? Yep, I get it. Hey, who knew? Girls eat too!!
8. You must be prepared to go through LOTS. And LOTS. Of JEANS.
Addie doesn't wear jeans (I don't think she likes the zipper just yet), but she goes through clothes pretty damn fast. Just yesterday, after playing outside for awhile, we were sitting on the couch and I noticed a giant hole in the knee of her pants. I usually just let her keep wearing them that way until they're literally falling apart. If she doesn't care, why should I?
9. You must be cool with nudity.
I feel like a broken record here, but girls love nudity, too. As I write this, Addie is lounging on the couch with no pants on. About half the day she spends totally naked -- it really varies with her mood. She loves to paint naked, really lets those creative juices flow. And when she has to poop she prefers to get totally naked for the task. We're very comfortable with nudity here.
10. You must get used to "The Grab."
This is always a big one. I'm not sure why people thing that boys have a monopoly on playing with themselves. Girls also start in infancy and go from there. I know in our society it's hard to imagine because showing female pleasure will get you an "R" rating on your movie faster than brutally killing hundreds of children, but the clitoris is actually designed for pleasure, just like the penis. It feels good when you touch it. Who knew! Girls like to touch it. Lounging on the couch naked, in the bathtub, while eating dinner (naked). Yep, girls go for the grab, too. Can you blame them?
Parenting is messy, funny, scary, dirty, expensive and exposes you to lots of nudity and bodily functions. And we're all in it together. Wouldn't it be more helpful to just warn all parents-to-be about what they're in for? Baby girl or baby boy, you've got a crazy few years ahead of you. Good luck!