Gender disappointment is something very real. I know first hand.
It’s not that I do not love my boys with all my heart, or wish they were any different. I just always assumed I’d have a daughter. After all, I was one of two girls and I never really knew (and therefore expected) anything different for my own family.
As a mother of boys I have had to rewrite my dreams and life journey to include sons versus daughters. And over the past few years I have tried to come to terms with my feelings by reflecting on why exactly I feel it is so different to mother boys.
It’s not just the toys, the games, the clothes… though these things are an outer reflection of deeper things beneath the surface. It’s also the interests you have in common, the relationship you expect in the years to come, and the general understanding of life experience as a man versus a woman.
In uncovering and realizing my expectations and my assumptions, I have tried to think of practical ways I can embrace being a mother of boys. I realize this may seem silly to those who have a daughter, or were never expecting to have a daughter and therefore do not have strong emotions about it. But I feel this is an important topic to post about as I have had conversations with many other “boy moms” and know I am not alone in this challenge.
Here are 10 ways I am doing my best to embrace being a mother of boys.
Disclaimer: this post has TONS of stereotypes… but in dealing with this issue, it is pretty much impossible not to include them. I realize the same issues can come up with mothering daughters… but anyway that’s not the purpose of this post. Bear with me, please.
There are Amazon Affiliate links in this post for your convenience.
1) Have regular chats with other moms of boys (moms of boys only).
Even though I know moms with boys and girls can understand boys, I think having only boys is a whole different matter altogether. Having chats with these women, discussing the tests and the issues can be so helpful. I know “she understands” what I’m going through and, for me, it just softens my heart to have these “boy mom” friends close by.
2) Choose some “boy” hobbies I can enjoy.
I’m still searching for this one. But I’d like to have some hobbies the boys and I can enjoy together in the years to come. Not skateboarding, which they love to do with their dad but I have never felt comfortable doing. Probably not anything with vehicles or sports or superheros…. so far I have not become passionate about those things (though I enjoy them in moderation). Maybe scuba diving? Rock climbing? Mini golf?? I know it will be important to find a pastime we can both enjoy together, so we can also share those important conversations and moments of connection as the boys grow up into teenagers and men. (Yes I know my boys may enjoy “girly” hobbies but I don’t want to count on it. Something active, I think, will be key.)
3) Find books we can both get into.
I have to admit I get really really tired of all the digger books, the firetruck books, the good verses evil, etc etc. I would love to just sit down on some days and read anything about fairies or cute little bugs or princesses, but I don’t think that day is coming any time soon. So I have found it’s been very important for me to find books we can both enjoy, to scatter throughout our reading sessions. Books that include adventure and rescue, but also have a softer side. A few we have enjoyed have been:
4) Learn to enjoy boy toys, or at least appreciate their benefits.
Oh the cars. The tools. The sheer desire to build something and then knock it down or jump off it. I’ve been fighting going into the “boy section” up till last year (when my son turned 4)… I always thought I would choose gender neutral toys. However it’s not possible to ignore how my son is just pulled to the boy toys and I don’t want to stifle his interests.
Quite a few months ago my son was introduced to Transformers figurines at a friend’s house. As I watched the boy show my son how they worked, I saw that at least this toy was teaching him there was a process to transforming something, you had to be careful with the delicate parts, and that it at least had two purposes (was not merely a robot or a car toy).
After many requests I finally decided I would get my son a Transformer as a concrete example for him to learn about “transformation” – he can choose to transform his character (ie calm down after being angry) at any time. And it worked! He really took to the example and has really loved, loved, LOVED playing with the toy. And since then we have found many ways to weave Transformers into stories and play scenarios revolving around character-building, serving others, and working as a team.
From this experience I have learned that we can still have “boy toys” and find constructive ways to use and play with them.
5) Don’t get bogged down by stereotypes.
Okay so this is kind of against everything above (I know there are no “boy toys” or “girl toys”… you know what I mean, right?)… however by saying “don’t get bogged down my stereotypes” I’m reminding myself that there are actually no limits for my boys. They may enjoy sewing! They may love going to the Opera! They may be totally into fashion! So I just want to remember not to stereotype them… to be mindful of trends, yes, but not to force them into the “mold.” To expose them to all things regardless of if it is a “girl thing” or a “boy thing” and to offer it with an open heart and an open mind, not with preconceived notions of how they will take it.
And I will keep on reminding myself, boy stuff is not “bad.” Being active is not bad! Being loud and aggressive it not, necessarily, bad! The stereotypical masculine qualities are wonderful, if used in a positive way, just as the stereotypical feminine qualities can be wonderful (or detrimental) too. Choosing how to use these qualities, being responsible and service-oriented with our natural inclinations, this is what I need to concentrate on… not being “manly” or “womanly.”
6) Read about parenting boys.
Reading books about parenting boys has been WONDERFUL for me – I know I’m not alone and am assured that it is sometimes hard to relate to the gender opposite than you. To see things in a different way merely because you occupy a different position in the world. There are many types of books for parenting boys out there but one of my favorites has been I’m Outnumbered – which is a lovely, easy-to-read book written by a mom with 4 sons, with practical tips and “I’ve been there” advice I really related to.
7) Find another way to “mother” a girl or some girls.
One of my “issues” about not having a daughter is because I will not be able to share all that womanly wisdom and love with another woman in my home. As a Women’s Studies major whose life goal is to help promote the rights of women, this just feels very important to me. But if it’s not possible within my immediate family, I need to look for a way to make it possible in a different way. A friend suggested I could choose to “mentor” someone which I thought was a neat idea (for the future). I’m also thinking about choosing a charity for girls, or sponsoring a girl through school. Still undecided on this but I know it will be important for me to have a concrete way to feel like I am contributing to women’s growth in the world.
(I do not want to count on being close friends with my future daughters-in-law to fill my need for girls to mentor, although I hope that will be the case…)
8) Take time out for some girly stuff.
Even if no one else wants a pedicure, I may just get one. Even if no one else cares about having a special table setting out for the holiday, I may just spend time setting one up. Even if no one wants to go shopping, for that matter, I may just have to go alone! I want to make sure I do not give up on my “feminine” side just because no one else in my household is doing it. I can see myself “belittling” my own desires to fit into everyone else’s schedule… and I don’t think this will be healthy in the long run. Compromise yes, but total self sacrifice no. I want to still do some girly stuff sometimes and so I’m going to indulge myself every once in a while!
9) Get physical, and show love in a physical way.
This one is probably the most important tip for me to follow on a daily basis. My boys love to run, love to jump, love to wrestle. I love to sit, to write quietly, and seriously dislike being poked, elbowed, grabbed, or pushed in any way. So I need to remind myself to sometimes “get down on their level” and engage in some active play with them. Play with them in a way that they feel loved and in a way they really enjoy. This includes active games like chase and ball games, water balloons, swimming together, etc.
Also recently I have tried to “tickle” (ie caress) my son’s face at night, and scratch his back. He loves this. I also try to remember to do things like give him high fives, pick him up and swing him, let him jump to me, and do little “mini wrestles” so I don’t have to do the “whole thing” but just do a little bit that I feel comfortable with. It really gets me out of my comfort zone but I know the boys really, really enjoy it and their faces just light up when I make the effort to meet them on a physical, versus intellectual, level.
10) Don’t feel bad about being different.
Sometimes when the three guys (meaning my husband and two boys) are having such a great time running around outside or drawing helicopters and fighter jets, I feel like something is wrong with me. I know part of this is just “letting go” and “enjoying the moment” but another part is being true to myself. What they are doing may not be “my thing” but I can still appreciate it. However this doesn’t mean I have to change myself entirely, either. I am still me, I am a woman, and it’s okay if I don’t necessarily love all the things they do. I can respect their choices and their preferences, but I don’t have to change mine.
If I want to make a floral collage when we are cutting up the magazines for craft time, or decorate some cookies with rainbows versus robots, I am not being selfish. It’s okay to be different and I need to feel confident and okay with being different than the other three males in my household.
Okay that’s 10 points so I will stop there. I hope this list is not offensive (please, please know I am very grateful for my two boys). And I hope that those of you who have boys and have struggled a bit may find it helpful. I feel it will definitely be helpful for me to read later on especially when/if we get pregnant again we find out we’re having… another boy.
Check out these other great resources for “boy moms”: Frugal Fun For Boys and Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Find more websites by moms of boys on my Pinterest Board: For Moms of Boys. Let me know if you have an article or website to add by commenting below! If you are interested in finding activities and crafts for boys, be sure to follow this awesome Pinterest board from Hands On As We Grow (visit the website here).
This post is part of the Growing from Motherhood series. To read more, click here.
I found your post through Pinterest and have recently had my third boy. Like you, I’m one of two girls but I always knew I was going to have boys as both sides of my family seem to create boys (I have 8 male cousins and only 1 female one) That didn’t stop me buying a dress and cute coat in the hope that the most recent one could have been a girl!
I’ve found that there are loads of lovely ideas on Pinterest that I would love to do with my boys but they’re just not interested in creating stuff quite in the same way. I’ve had to spend time thinking about activities that achieve my end but have a different slant on them. We’ve recently started nature scrapbooks so they get to do the cutting, sticking and drawing I enjoy but it’s spiders and woodlice instead. Superheroes in our house come in the form of Lego sets because I hate the idea of those muscle bound bits of plastic that encourage fighting. A small Batman minifigure on the other hand is fine – especially as Catwoman and Wonder Woman get to play too!
The one thing that concerned me about your post was point 7. As the mother of boys I think I have a great responsibility in teaching them how to respect women, how to encourage them to treat women as equals and not see anything they do as girly or for girls. We read lots of fairy tale books with glittery pages because I’ve picked ones that are suitable for them ~(Abie Longstaff books for example are about a fairy tale hairdresser but they love it). I also want them to understand that if they have jobs where they have positions of power that they don’t view women as second choices.
I gave up a job where I was better paid than their father in order to bring up my children and my eldest often says he wants to be like me when he grows up. I know that’s his age but it’s positive that he’d rather be like me than his dad. I understand that sharing womanly wisdom is important and I also have days when I wish I had a daughter because the relationship would have different levels. But ensuring my sons see women as equals to them is probably going to be my biggest parenting success. Whilst they are being brought up in a traditional set up of stay at home mum while dad works long hours, I get the biggest influence on their views of women. Your influence on your sons has a much greater chance of contributing to the growth of women if the current pace of change remains as slow as it is.
Good luck with the boy thing though! I love having sons as they’re only 5, 2 and 16 weeks. I may feel differently when they’re 10, 7 and 5 though…
Hi Lucy, thanks so much for sharing your experiences and insights! I will definitely look into the books you recommended 🙂 I love how you pointed out a mother’s influence on her sons, as well… by #7 I did not mean to discount my own influence on my boys and therefore their power to respect and empower women (and change the world through that) – this topic could be a whole post in itself, as I’m sure either of us could write 🙂 I definitely agree with you about the responsibility we have as moms of boys to help our sons uphold the equality of women and men…. I guess it just fulfills a different emotional need working with boys or girls (for either parent). Thanks again for commenting!
Such a well written post! Thanks for sharing, it’s given me lots to think about!
I’ve got two gorgeous boys who I wouldn’t change for the world! But I’ve always drempt of having daughters as well (names have been picked out for years) it never occurred to me that I might not have a daughter, and although we’re not finished having children, I’m finding myself having to think about the possibility I will not have a daughter!
I want to be prepared so if I don’t have a daughter, I’ll be ok 🙂 like you said gender disappointment is real! The best thing I read was “it’s important to know that you are not grieving the baby you are carrying, but the fantasy you have created around having either a boy or girl”
Thanks for sharing Carmelina and yes I have gone through those feelings as well! I used to just assume I would have a girl “next” but now I’ve been trying to come to terms with the fact that it may go either way. Plus we had a miscarriage last January and so I really just need to be thankful for what I have and remember every child is a blessing and we are not assured there will be any more! 🙂
Grieving the gender you don’t have explains what I’m feeling. I just knew #3 was a girl…los and behold he’s my third boy. A fellow boy mom friend accidentally got pregnant and announced it’s a girl. I’m happy for her but the grief that I probably won’t ever have a daughter g was unexpected and overwhelming. I’ve cried all night. Even though we plan to have a fourth I’m terrified it will be another boy and I will be super disappointed. Thank you for that comment! I needed to know how to express what I feel and that hit the nail on the head!
Chelsea, first it’s GREAT to “meet” you! Thanks for the message you left on my Facebook author page. It’s great hearing how other boys moms are doing and hearing what you wrote struck a chord. I love every one of your list! And thanks for the shout out for I’m Outnumbered! Enjoy those boys, Chelsea.
Thanks a million Laura, I’m honored you stopped by to read my post! I will enjoy them for sure – that would be a list of a whole different type, and too long to write 🙂
Oh Chelsea!! When I found out I was having a boy, both my husband and I said, “Okay. We’ll have the boy first so he can help us protect our daughter (which we’ll obviously have next, right?)” Raising Noah has been such an eye-opening experience for me because, like you, was raised with a sister and we were never around boys. Boys are a whole new world of rambunctiousness and physicality that I am still learning about. While I haven’t given up on the idea that eventually, there will be a daughter in my house, I have learned to embrace, acknowledge, and reward the sensitive and caring feminine qualities that he exhibits daily- even if they are small. We buy dolls and stuffed animals and make sure to hug and kiss them and put them to bed, we encourage dress up in all forms, and we look for books/movies that show both girls and boys working together (I will say the early Harry Potter movies are his favorite right now- he loves the “dinosaur” at the end of the 2nd movie). I love that you know that you can still be you with the boys. It is important for your boys to see that Mommy feels good about her interests and doing what you like to do teaches them that it is okay to love yourself, even if you’re different. You amaze me with the ways that you are able to turn normal, every day stuff into character building moments. Keep it up- your boys are awesome!
Thanks Callie! I actually expected both of mine to be girls LOL. But after the second boy, I realize I just cannot count on having a girl next! I know it still may happen (we hope to have 4) but I also need to be sure I’m content having kids just for the kids themselves and not in hopes they will be girls. I was also a big doll promoter (and stuffed animals) but now that they are getting older, they simply aren’t interested. They are still cuddly with favorite toys but dont have any interest in make believing with “girly” topics, although we still talk about these things often. We cook, clean, think of others, and learn about being kind and gentle which is the most important thing, I think; encouraging positive qualities regardless of what gender they are “typed” to. Although the boyness is hard to manage sometimes, and puts me out of my comfort zones, I also know it is helping me grow and making me so much stronger. Thanks for sharing and I’ve been enjoying your blog, too!! 🙂
Great post! I definitely felt this way when I found out my first child was a boy. I cried!! I am now completely and totally in love with my boys and thought of having a girl freaks me out! 🙂 Thanks for putting into words what many of us boy mama have felt. Shared and will pin too.
Hehe Stephanie I cried in the ultrasound of my first too 🙂 I was so scared I did not even know how I would parent boys! After the second, I was glad my son would have a brother to play with. But after that I also started having all the feelings of “What if I never have a girl?” I still go through stages but I’m feeling more and more confident about my abilities to parent boys, especially with all the wonderful websites and books available these days. Thank you for sharing my post!!
I called my mom sobbing and said, “There are no good boys clothes!” 🙂 If I were to have another I would WANT it to be another boy!! Crazy the way it turns out isn’t it??
Yes! I was thankful not to be tempted to spend money on clothes etc in the end 😉 However lately I’ve been thinking what would I do if I DID have a girl… ie maybe I would be expecting something that just wouldnt be? But anyway I guess that’s life! We just never know and have to learn to love what we are given – which usually turns out for the best looking back. For us, having all boys would probably change some of our life decisions (ie living and traveling in more “dangerous” areas) but I guess I’ll just have to wait to see how it all pans out 🙂 Regardless, I love my boys and wouldnt want them any different 🙂
As a former tom-boy who was raised for a period of time by a single father (before my wonderful step-Momma came into the picture), I had the opposite expectations for my family. I always pictured myself having 3or4 boys…maybe one girl but that was more because my husband wanted a daughter, not me.
We ended up with one son. Just one.
And he loves tea parties, he loves purple sparkly tutus, he loves chick-flicks.
Luckily, he loves action figures and comic books too but….I have a hard time relating to the tea party, nail polish, chick-flick side of him.
We also have a daughter, who is a bit too young to know what she’s into, but so far she seems to be like her brother: a mix of interests, many of which I don’t understand and don’t relate to.
I hate to admit it but gender disappointment is real….and it goes both ways.
Like you, I love my children, and would never wish them any other way.
Still it is a bit of mourning process to realize I’ll never have a home filled with rowdy boys covered in mud and wrestling with their dog on the floor the way I always imagined and wanted for myself.
Thanks for sharing Suzy – it’s great to hear your perspective 🙂
just some comments from a mom of a girl:
3. ayva LOVES vehicles. 🙂
7. you still have an important role to play in gender equality as it is not just about educating girls, but also (and even more importantly) about educating boys!
8. YES, go out and do those “girly” things! i was never into “girly” things before having ayva but now totally see how pampering getting your nails done, massages, shopping, exercising, etc. is when we spend most of our time taking care of someone else! don’t forget that “me” time! i am going for a massage tomorrow! 😛
9. i have a girl, but she plays and gets wild with her dad, and i am often “left out” as i am also not like that. so it is not just something that happens with moms of boys, i just think dads interact differently with their kids, boy or girl.
Hi Alycia! Definitely my boys have liked “girly” things too – but in general their interests are different than mine 🙂 For #7 I agree – I do have a big responsibility to educate boys and a special role to play. It just feels different (I know that is selfish) but as a Women’s Studies major and advocate of creating special places just for women, what I meant to express was that I will miss working for the advancement of women WITH women. But like you say, I can still work for this aim, just in a different way than I always imagined. Yay for massages – would love one right now 😉
Cat (Yellow Days)
What a really thoughtful post. I think it’s really important to acknowledge the parts of parenting that we find hard or feel like we just ‘not cut out for’ and try to find ways to manage them rather than convincing ourselves and others everything is perfect and soldiering on. I love all the fun that comes with two boys but am still a little sad to not have a girl. Oddly, the thing that often occurs to me is never getting to be the ‘mother of the bride’ which seems a ridiculous thing to focus on given that it wouldn’t be happening for decades anyway. Thanks for linking up to our Parenting Pin-it Party.
Hi Cat thanks for the comment – yes for me what I often “miss” is future stuff also, mainly having the mother-daughter relationship once the kids have moved out. I don’t love my boys any less, I just know the relationship will be different – not worse, just different 🙂
OK. You have me sitting here with my laptop sobbing. In 2006, when I found out I was having twins, I assumed I was having a boy and a girl. In February 2007, I found out it was two boys and I was devastated. We left the ultrasound and headed straight to stores to register for baby stuff. Boy stuff. Blue stuff. Trucks and cars and planes. We used IVF to get pregnant so I knew there would likely be no more children. I’m a girly-girl who took dance lessons. I collect teacups and hate outdoorsy stuff. And I wasn’t going to have a daughter to share it. I spent about 24 hours sobbing and then I moved on. It didn’t take me long to get excited about having boys and now they are my world. Other than my husband, I didn’t tell anyone about my reaction because I didn’t think they would understand. Your post sums my feelings up perfectly! Thank you so much for sharing!!!!!
I am so so honored that this post has moved you. I really don’t want to seem ungrateful by sharing my feelings… but as you know, it has nothing to do with the LOVE we have for our boys, it’s just the material expectations we envisioned before having children. Just talking about it helps me move on. Thanks so much for commenting – I’m wishing all the best for you and your family 🙂
I always thought I wanted a girl and then had a boy. I know that means that I won’t be able to share shopping trips with him (he moans whenever we go into a shop) but I have embraced his boyishness. Fortunately, I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid and I can really relate to his love of Star Wars. We recently did a Star Wars party for his 5th birthday. I also try and focus on what is great about having a boy such as they tend to love the outdoors and they love jokes. I teach boys and girls in a secondary school and I love teaching both. Boys can be very funny as teenagers and great at injecting humour into the classroom.
This article really hit home. Thank Gd, I am the mom to three boys whom I adore. Yet, I have always yearned for a daughter. I could hear myself in your list and found it comforting as well as helpful. Thank you!
Thanks for your article. As a homeschooling mother of 3 boys, I am really immersed in their world on an hourly basis, your article touched many points that I have thought about but never shared, thanks!
Chelsea Lee Smith
Hi Shaema, Thanks for commenting and I’m so glad you can relate to the article. It is a bit scary to talk about this topic – I dont want people to think I’m not grateful for my sons. But it’s definitely a unique experience, being the mother of only boys 🙂
Thank you for this! I absolutely resonate with all of it, especially number one! I very much think mothers of only boys definitely experience things a bit differently than mothers who have both genders. I am a mother of 5 boys with a 6th boy on the way. They range from almost 17, down to 2. I can honestly say, while I was thrilled to find out we were having another boy (because I adore my boys), I was simultaneously devastated that we were not having a girl…again. I came from a family of 5 girls, so like you said, it never occurred to me that I might not have a daughter of my own. Having boys started out as complete culture shock, sometimes it still feels that way. Anyway, I stumbled upon this today after a particularly trying day filled with testosterone and it really spoke to my heart. Sometimes it is such an encouragement just to be reminded that I am not the only one struggling with this! <3
Yes, thank you for this article! I just found out that I am having our 3rd boy. I was thrilled with the news of #1, and equally ecstatic with #2 because they are very close in age and I pictured them having a blast together (which they do). Something in me changed with this pregnancy, though, and I never knew I wanted a daughter this much until hearing the tech say we are having another boy. Knowing that stopping at 3 kids may be best for our family at this time, I’ve had a lot of emotions to process. Like you said, it is hard to discuss with others for fear of being judged. My husband totally doesn’t understand since he has always wanted a large brood of boys (now I feel resentment and jealousy that he is living his dream – crazy pregnancy hormones). I kind of wish I hadn’t mentioned it to a group of girlfriends, because while some understood, others made me feel entirely ungrateful for having another healthy baby and feeling disappointment based on stereotyped fantasies. I AM grateful and honestly already LOVE this boy that I am carrying and know it will be wonderful fun and a privilege to concentrate on raising three men of character. Emotions are funny things, though. This post made me feel normal, and I appreciate the tips for embracing this wonderful reality.
Chelsea Lee Smith
Oh Ann I totally get where you are coming from – and am so glad you took the time to comment, thank you. I think it’s impossible to wrap everything up so neatly – sometimes we can feel FULLY grateful and joyous, but also have a tinge of bitter sweetness. Accepting it as an ongoing challenge and talking through it is the only way I will survive it. I hope you can continue to chat with other “boy moms” near you!!! Feel free to email me any time!! Best wishes with your pregnancy. xxx
Hi I really understand where you are coming from. One thing I wanted to recommend is about the books, I believe it’s good to read boys books that might be more traditionally girl books. I don’t read them all the time, but I do try to get one from the library every time we go. I want him to be exposed to strong female characters, and I also believe that by exposing him to women in this way I am helping women, by raising a boy who will be understanding and even fight for women’s rights as he grows up.
Just an idea, it might help you with both of those points. Hope you have a great day! 🙂
Chelsea Lee Smith
That is a great point Stephanie, thanks for mentioning it! We also read lots of books probably written for girls (or for both boys and girls) – and I definitely love the idea of finding some with strong female characters. Movies are great for this, too!
Great post! I have 2 boys, age 5 and 5 months. I cried when I found out I was having another boy as we had only planned on 2 kids and I felt like I’d ‘lost’ a daughter. I am really not outdoors-y and would rather sit and draw or read…the total opposite of my eldest! Maybe my youngest will sit and do art with me *fingers crossed*.
Anyway, the day after I found out I was having another boy, I was sat at my desk and my eldest came and brought me some daisies and buttercups he’d picked for me. I stuck them in my journal with this verse ‘How important these pesky flowers are, how great they make my day. For my boy came running towards me, ‘I picked these for you!’ he’d say. They may not be so pretty, but to me they are grand. For I know each was picked with love in my boy’s hand. My boys may like diggers, tractors, trains and getting muddy, but they’ll still be sweet and kind and they’ll always love their mummy.’
I felt much better and blessed that I will have 3
men looking after me (and hopefully a lot less
I am a mother of 2 also, which they are in the teenage years… One thing I honestly can say we enjoy doing together is fishing, maybe that is something you can enjoy with them. Thanks for being honest and writing from the heart I appreciate it.
Thanks so much, Chelsea for putting this out there, and everyone else who has responded and shared their real feelings of disappointment. I have 3 boys, (5, 3, and 6 months) and never imagined this life for myself. We’ve always talked about having 4 children, but after 3 boys in a row I wonder if we will keep going. Like all of you, I love my guys to pieces and wouldn’t wish them away, but I did always imagine a girl in the mix and worry about them not having a sister.
At this stage they are still full of sweetness and love playing nurturing games about animals needing to be adopted or breastfeeding their dolls, but I’m sure these games will come to an end, if for no other reason than the comments other boys make about that kind of play being “girly.” I’m scared of seeing their natural nurturing instincts being made fun of or even shamed by dominant culture that prizes male “toughness.”
Yes, as a mother and a feminist I can give them a woman’s perspective, but I worry that because it comes from their mother they may think it is just MY views, rather than an experience of being in the world that I share with other women. It seems that having a sister would offer them a perspective that they could better relate to, and highlight ways in which girls are disadvantaged in the world.
Some of you have pointed out that the loss we feel is for an imagined other life, or future with daughters, and it is helpful for me to examine my assumptions about girls/daughters. A life with daughters would be full of other worries and potential pain. And yet, I’ve also learned to let myself have my feelings now so they can shift and change with time. I felt shamed when I tried to admit my disappointment with my first boy, and those feelings ate away at me for a long time. With #3 I had a good cry the day he was born and found it so much easier to accept him as a boy than with the first two.
Thanks again, ladies, for writing about this, because it can be a hard topic to share, especially, as you pointed out Chelsea, with other mothers who have daughters. Support from those who “get it” means so much!
Chelsea Lee Smith
Thanks so much for adding to the conversation Annaliese, really appreciate your insight and honesty – and I can totally relate 🙂
Thank you for your courage in writing about this topic! I am also one of two girls and have had two boys 2 years apart – 1 and 3 at the moment.
The physicality of boys and their energy really surprised me, but it has, like you say, put me out of my comfort zone and is teaching me so much!
I really appreciate the tips in this post – especially #8 and #10. Such good reminders to be who I am and look after myself.
Look after YOURself and enjoy gently nurturing yourself for the next 3 months 🙂
Just wondering how your husbands deal with your gender disappointment ?? Do they understand?
Just wanted to answer your question as I am very recently going through this and have had a few really nice conversations with my husband. We just recently found out we are having boy #3 and are planning to stop after this one since I have very challenging pregnancies. I was really excited at first after hearing the news, but after a couple days it was like the reality of never having a mother-daughter relationship with a daughter of my own began to sink in. I have an absolutely wonderful relationship with my own mother, and outside of my relationship with my husband, it is the most important adult relationship in my life! It’s just something that I always imagined having with a daughter of my own. I watch my mom with her 84 year old mother, and how she takes care of her and is so in touch with her needs, and think of having that with my own mother and just always thought that someday I would have it with a daughter. Anyways…. I just really started having a hard time dealing with the grief of accepting that i may never have that. My husband came home the other day and found me crying, and it opened the door for us to have a nice conversation about it. He is very close to his dad, so he could really put himself in my position in trying to understand how he would have felt if he never had a son to share all the things with that he shared with his own father. He has been very understanding and supportive and has not made me feel judged or condemned. I have really felt reassured by him these last few days and it has been really helpful. I do love raising boys, and am not disappointed about bringing another sweet boy into our family, but I feel that I am grieving the loss of this relationship that I always imagined and cherish so much with my own mom. It’s been a strange emotional roller-coaster but my husband is certainly helping me work through it.
I have these exact same feelings, only my husband does not know that we will be having our 3rd boy this year. We never found out the gender for my other 2, and he loved the surprise. I felt that I needed to find out because I was scared to have sad feelings on the day of the baby’s birth. It’s not that I’m not going to absolutely love this child, it’s just almost like mourning the loss of things that could have been. I too imagined I would have at least 1 daughter, but I don’t think we will have more then 3. It makes me sad to think I’ll never have someone’s hair to braid, help someone find a wedding dress, or take care of me when I am
Older. And I know this is all stereotypical, it’s just me grieving that it may never be an option.
I’m glad other people have similar feelings and it makes me feel better. I do feel guilty and I also feel like people will be disappointed (even though I’m sure they won’t tell me). What’s harder is many of my friends who had 2 children of the same gender went on to have the 3rd be different. I don’t have any close friends who only have boys. Also,
Keeping this a secret is hard. I’m just glad that there are other people who can relate and I don’t feel as bad to have these sad feelings.
Wow! I found your article and it pretty much sums it up. I am a mommy of 4 boys and just found out im expecting baby #5 but do not know the gender yet. With boys 1 & 2 I was glad they’d have a brother to grow up with. But I have to admit that with 3 & 4 I cried after we found out. I always thought I’d have at least one daughter. But I have some friends who have been in the same place and offer a lot of encouragement. Gender disappointment is real and doesn’t mean that you love those children any less. I love each of my boys and they are all so different. But one day I hope to have a daughter. If not, thats ok too.
This is a first for me, as i usually do not comment on blogs 🙂 but i read your post and wanted to let you know that this is the first time reading about being a boy mama hasn’t left me scared or in tears.
I have a beautiful, adorable little boy of 5 months. As my dad left my family when i was very young, i have always only been around women and my mom really really made sure that being a girl is the best thing that can happen to you. So when i found out last year that i was having a boy, i was in tears for weeks. We are going to have another baby, but we are not going to find out the sex before it’s born. I feel like no baby deserves this disappointment over something that cannot be changed. I am still hoping very much for a daughter and we are planning for a third baby as well, but i honestly do not know what i’m going to do when they all turn out to be boys (the last girl in my husband’s family was born 60 years ago…)
Thank you for such an encouraging and positive article!
I think we could be sisters in another lifetime 🙂 even though you grew up with girls and you are now experiencing boys. I am now a mother of 2 boys (husband being one) and always imagined princess/fairy parties not motocross dirt bike/mountain bike/longboard/penny skate boards.. I grew up primarily in a house of 2 step brothers and 2 biological brothers. My lot in life I think is to live my life with boys lol male dog included and did I say that they are the most amazing people god let me share my life with. One day my boys will bring home girls and hopefully granddaughters and I can recreate the dreams with them. xo
I love my boys. I don’t know what I will do if I had a girl I have two boys. I love the super heroes. I’m so into marvel and DC superheroes. I get them their spiderman iron man and captains America shirts. I love how my boys will wrestle. I’m a single mother of two boys and luckily my two friends have boys only as well. We go out with each other to the beach ( we live in Miami). They play while we sip margaritas. We go bowling, to the movies. I can say we have a great time out with our boys. They play with there PlayStation and I’m right there playing with them. I love watching the Miamiheat games with them. I just love my boys. My little one wakes me up with kisses in the morning. I love matching them with theirs outfits. I honestly wouldn’t know what to do if o had a girl. lol It will be a new experience. I even take my kids to the salon with me when I’m getting my nails and hair done also when I’m shopping. They love coming with me to do errands. Lol I love my boys. TeamBoys lol
It’s nice to feel like I’m not alone. My friends with all boys have had years to cope with their feelings. We just found out we are having boy #5. (this was our final attempt for a girl) We already love him madly and wouldn’t replace him. But now I have to accept that I will never have a daughter…I’ve always had hope for “someday” until now. I’m not sure the ache in my tummy will ever go away. But I refuse to stay focused on what I don’t have. I will celebrate the 5 blessings in my life. I have friends who could never conceive and cannot imagine their emotional struggles! With all this said, I still want to be honest with myself and not just bury my feelings. I truly feel like I’m mourning the loss of the daughter I never had. It’s such an emotional roller coaster!
Thank you for sharing! I personally am very happy with my three boys ( aged 1, 3 and 5). I will go weeks where I am thrilled. But then, an acquaintence or a stranger will say something – and I realize they think my family is somehow less because I dont have a girl. Or an older woman in the grocery store will say “three boys” somewhat disdainfully. Sometimes a comment like this will lead me to start feeling like I am missing out. Do you have a problem with others’ comments? What can we say to these people who cause us to doubt ourselves?
Chelsea Lee Smith
It’s so tough to know how to respond. I hope some other seasoned mothers can offer some advice! I haven’t figured it out yet!
Chelsea, I am so happy to have found your post today. I found out this morning that I am expecting my second son. This is a bit more complex for me emotionally because with my first child, I was told I was having a girl but had a boy instead. Then last year, I decided to be a surrogate mother and the baby, though unrelated to me, was also a boy! So I am grieving quite a lot today because I’ve already suffered horribly through gender disappointment and postpartum depression with my first child. I want so much to be happy about having another boy…but I just can’t do it today. Your post was the first thing I found when I searched for “mom of 2 boys”. I will have to come back and read this over and over again in preparation for our new wee man. And I’ll have to somehow prepare his big brother, who is going to be upset because he really wanted a little sister :(.
I just found out today I am having our Third boy!! I was in shock since I had really thought my baby was going to be a girl. I have tried not to feel sad but it hits me for a few seconds at a time and then change my thoughts to positive. I always wanted 3 kids because I come from a family of three siblings, ALL GIRLS, and wanted my kids to have the love of a big family like I have. I liked reading your post because it makes me think I am not alone!! I do feel sad about not having a girl being that this will be our last child. I also feel sad because I want to get more exited for my baby. I love him to pieces already and can imagine him playing with his 2 brothers, it’s just sad to think I will not get to enjoy all the girly things with a daughter. Anyway, thank you for writing your post and sharing it with us. I will try some of the ideas you game us!
May I just say that being a mum of boys you will be able to teach about women to the people who matter the most: men!
You are raising boys who will become men and protection of women’s rights starts not only by women knowing what they are entitled to, but from men, accepting and treating women as equal in the workplace, that they cannot physically pass the limits of a ‘no’ and so on.
Raising boys is equally -if not more- important than raising powerful women who also needs to understand we are all equal, no one is better at anyone in anything because of gender, colour, nationality, age and so forth…
Keep up the good work all mums and dads!!!
Oh goodness, I needed to read this today! I have an absolutely wonderful 3 year old boy. As I sit here, he has been singing some beautiful songs for me, eating blueberry muffins and he takes frequent breaks to tell me he loves me, all while acting like a dinosaur! I’m pregnant with baby 2, and I was so happy to find out this one is also a boy, I cried! I was so so excited. Then I woke up the next day and suddenly realized that I might not ever have a little girl. My goal was always healthy babies, not babies of a specific sex. I’m so glad my son will have a baby brother, I can’t wait to see the bond they share. And while I’m not disappointed with this being a little boy, I still have this nagging feeling that my little girl might never be here. I’m just trying to be ok with it. You’re article is so wonderful and is actually helping me in this process. And maybe I’m not supposed to have a little girl! Maybe my whole purpose in having these absolutely beautiful little boys is to make sure they grow up to be respectful, decent and productive men. I can raise gentlemen. I feel like they’re becoming more and more rare.
I’m actually anxious to see the differences in my two boys. My first loves to help me cook and bake, has an absolutely wild imagination, is sweet and loving to people and animals and is sooooo generous. I don’t think I could have asked for a more affectionate child! He’s amazing. I know the next one will be too in his own special ways.
I feel that we have the children we were meant to have. So whether our next is a boy or girl, I feel that I will have the children I was meant to and I will make the very best of the babies I get!
Thank you so much for this!
Thank you for writing this post. I’ve been struggling for awhile and have felt terrible. I also am one of two girls. Practically raised only by my mother and dreamt I’d only have daughters. There whereby any male figures growing up so that’s what my mind would make up. This is my first child and recently found out it’s a boy. To be honest it was a shock. And still is. I’m 6 months pregnant and when I see little girls my hearts melts and wishes I were carrying a girl. I feel terrible because no one around me understands how I feel. I don’t want to feel this way. :/ I am a step mother to a teen boy and it’s been a rough journey. When I became pregnant I was worried to have a boy because of my step son. I know I shouldn’t compare but again this is the first time in my life I’ve been surrounded my males (husband and step son) and don’t know if I can handle another boy. Sorry for venting. I’m scared. Thank you for sharing.
Chelsea Lee Smith
I hope you can find someone who understands Madeline, if not, seek out friends and articles online to remind yourself you are not alone. Coming to terms with your fears is important!! Best wishes to you.
I am a mum to four wonderful sons 11-3years. They are a real blessing and bring a lot of joy to our family. But the boys have a sister they never knew, our first child was a baby girl who was born sleeping at 40 weeks. Both my sister and sister in law had baby girls 2 and 4 weeks before hand. Grief is so hard and I lost so much weight. But 18 months later we where blessed with our first son. He brought our family so much joy. We have since had 3 more healthily boys. They love playing football together and are very physical and everything is a competition. I do struggle and feel left out a lot, I’m trying to enjoy the activities they do, but your post has been really helpful. I cried aswell when reading as I can relate so much. I have quite a few all boy mum friends and we do share and catch up, which I love. I still long for a daughter and wonder how much life would have been different with my eldest being a girl. I still after 12 years find it hard with family get togethers, seeing my nieces. Thanks for your post and great insight.
Chelsea Lee Smith
Oh Belinda, you are not alone in your feelings, there are so many mothers out there feeling similar. I hope you find peace and joy with your family, and that you can speak to someone who understands as it’s so important to let ourselves go through whatever emotions come up as we make our way through life. Sending well wishes to you and yours!
I’m expecting my first child and all this time I was sure it’s a girl. I’ve ALWAYS saw myself with a daughter and already had a name for her, only to find out it’s a boy. The disappointment and hurt in my heart is unexplainable, I feel horrible but I can’t help it. I don’t know how I’d mother a boy cause all I had in my mind has always been me with my baby girl (doing girly stuff and wearing matching outfits). I love my baby but I find it hard accepting it’s a boy, even the kicks remind me that it’s not a girl (I feel bad).
I am a mom to two sons, and it always surprises me how many moms of boys seem to think or expect boys not to like things like dolls and tea parties. I really feel it is important not to limit our kids to only like certain things or to push ideas on them that something is for one gender only. My boys, at 2 and 4 have lots of dolls and they love to play dress up – they also love being spider man, bat man etc but I have no issue with them being Elsa and Anna and everything else. So it has been a very pleasant experience for me, mothering boys – I get to do pretty much everything with them and I feel more moms would too if they were more open to it. We need more nurturing and caring boys. I buy all types of toys for them regardless of what isle they are on.
Your thoughts ring true to me. I read it while my now teenage boys and their Dad were out climbing. I have felt like the odd one out in my family for a long while. I’ve tried being super girly to compensate, but it doesn’t ring true for me, always a relative tom-boy. Our interests sometimes coincide – one boy still sings in a choir with me at 17, the other enjoys a good play/concert, I am a physicist and one of the boys is leaning that way. I too struggle to break free and say I don’t care if no-one wants to come but I’m going shopping/visiting gardens… but increasingly I’m not sure thus is down to being outnumbered by boys or just lacking girlfriends of my own. Conversely my brother is outnumbered by his 3 girls and wife … a whole different scenario!
I am most concerned about my future relationship with my son. I dont know how a balanced adult mother&son relationship would look like, especially with a married son. I come from a small family and when my parents are gone he will be the only relative left. I am so sad males usually get too far or too close to their moms in societys view, but women close to moms are seen as normal. I worry I will lose him as soon as he married.
Im so glad to read what you said about being a mum of boys. It all sounded so familiar.
Im in a different generation from you. Im now a grand mother. My fears of when my three sons were young are now apon me.
My grandson is a gorgeous
18 month old. Ive never baby sat, never bathed or changed a nappy. Ive asked ask to babysit but get told not yet.
I know her mother takes care of him. Shes now pregant with her second son. I felt very happy as she will now be a mother sons.
My sadness and fears of being the mother in law has become reality
Thank you so much for your honesty and helpful ideas. I’ve just found out I’m having my third boy and am struggling with the idea. This is helping me get my head around it.