I took the boy on the train last weekend to see my best friend’s baby. I’ve been meaning to go much sooner – and on my own, to optimise cuddle time without a green eyed monster pushing in – but life got in the way as usual and I didn’t get to meet baby M until she was 9 weeks old. I missed that squidgy, mouldable stage where the baby just relaxes into your arms and looks up at you in a cross-eyed befuddled manner before falling asleep.
M is at the trying to sit up and stare at everything stage. She shouts and coughs for attention. She’s just so gorgeous.
I have to admit that I was jealous that my friend had had a little girl. I always hoped the boy would be a girl, but it wasn’t to be. I’m not saying I’m not happy I had a little boy – he’s certainly as pretty as any little girl – but you always hear about the mother daughter bond, and I wanted to be able to raise a happy, confident girl from my own feminist view point. When I was little, I told my Mum I wanted to be an author who illustrated her own books when I grew up and her reply was “I think you’d be better off a nurse or teacher” I felt, even then, that she’d said that because I was a girl and that’s all I should aspire to (not to denigrate teachers or nurses – I know how bloody amazing you all are believe me). I always thought I would raise a girl who would believe she could do or be anything, by virtue of hard work, belief and attitude, and not be pushed into roles associated with her gender.
But I have a boy. A beautiful, inquisitive, smart little boy who I adore (I admit to occasionally wanting to use the remote control mute button on him though – he drives me dangerously close to head-banging-on-wall at least twice a day) How can I raise a boy who will respect and admire women for their unseen virtues in a world full of sex-sells consumerism? Where women are constantly on display and graded by the size of their bottoms? Where porn is merely a misguided internet search away?
I’m terrified frankly. How do you even begin to broach these things with boys? He’s an alien creature to me at the best of times now, and he’s only four. What will he be like at seven, ten, fifteen? Will he even listen to me?
I guess I’ll have to wait and see. At least for now I can treasure the small day to day moments. A sticky hand holding mine. Teaching him to say ‘precipitation’ as a distraction from asking me 25,000 times if it’s going to rain. Him managing to walk all the way to and from nursery without wanting to be carried. He’s growing up, but not too fast. Not yet.