Ever since I was a little girl, I always imagined myself being a mother of girls. Don’t misread me: this is not because that’s what I wanted, but because girls are familiar for me. I’m a woman. I’m friends with women. I look up to lots of women. I’ve always enjoyed the company of other women, and have pretty much lived on the more feminine side of life. I love dresses, make-up, getting my hair done, painting my nails, buying a new pair of shoes . . . anything that comes to mind when you think “she’s pretty girly,” is probably something I enjoy or like to do. It takes me way too long to get ready.
So when I say “I expected to be a mother of girls,” it’s not because I don’t like men. Hello! I married one. I have a dad and a brother. I’m friends with lots of guys, and have always worked with more men than women. But sit me down in a sports arena, and I feel pretty lost. I get into sporting events, but mainly for the experience. I confess that my eyes are mostly drawn to all the “extras” around me. Last year, my in-laws scored unbelievable seats to a Colts game, and I confess, I probably watched the real game for a total of fifteen minutes. The rest of the time I was looking around at everything else . . . the cheerleaders, announcers, players on the sidelines, Peyton Manning in his jeans and jacket.
I’m all girl. And I love it.
But that’s not the reason raising a boy intimidates me. I’ve kind of prepared myself for a girl. I consider it my job to encourage teenage girls. I spend my week thinking of ways to communicate God’s love to girls who struggle believing they’re worthy, loved, and valued. Girls are familiar to me. I know what to say when a girl tells me she doesn’t believe in herself. I have no idea what to say when a boy stubbornly pretends to not care when he fails. I just kind of stare at him.
But that’s also not the reason raising a boy scares me. I feel ready to show and model for a little girl how to be a “woman of valor,” how to be strong and gentle, how to embody a spirit of love and dignity, how to be confident while also humble. Not because I encompass all of those characteristics, but because I strive for them daily.
I don’t know how to show a little man what it means to respect a woman. It feels terrifyingly unfamiliar to think that I am partly responsible for how my son views, treats, and loves women. I have no idea what to do or say if my son gets in trouble for picking on a girl. To think that my son could be capable of turning a girl into the object of his desire throws me to my knees. I want to teach our son how to not be intimidated by strong women, but encouraged by them. I want to teach him that real strength is found in vulnerability, not arrogance and pride. I long for him to be a man known for humility above all else. And I haven’t the slightest clue how to do it.
So today while perusing the little man section at H&M, I stopped and stared for far too long at this pair of shoes. I found myself praying, “God, help me raise this little man,” while gazing at these little-man sweaters and boots, and feeling our own kicking inside me. And although his kicks intimidate me, I am so grateful for the chance to discover what this boy-raising-journey will bring.