by Brandi Lee, Parenting Without A Parachute Contributor
I was convinced that my first child was a girl. I decorated the nursery in a gender neutral farm set; little lambs and cows and baby chicks eagerly awaited her arrival. My friends and family dutifully purchased all of the green and yellow items on my registry and didn’t understand why I “just didn’t find out already.” I wanted it to be a surprise, of course. Didn’t care what I was having, of course. Mostly because I’d already decided that my first born was a girl, of course.
There were only two outcomes to this particular scenario: either I was right or I was wrong. I rarely assume I’m wrong. In fact, I often deny the fact if it’s staring me in the face. So my surprise at the birth of my SON was of a particularly incredulous nature. All I could think was: “what in the world am I going to do with a penis?”
And then: three years later, another baby, another penis. I was officially and completely outnumbered.
The last six years have been a proverbial journey of discovery. As my boys are shifting out of that baby phase and more into the straight-up-kid phase, I feel myself, my parenting, shifting, too. I feel kind of seasoned and wise, though still terribly flawed and lacking. Hindsight allows me to laugh at me, the first time parent, thinking I knew what I wanted, what I would be good at, what the universe should grant me.
The last six years have taught me:
that we are often blessed by that which we didn’t know we wanted,
that I didn’t know what I was doing but figured it out and kept us all alive anyway,
that the penis is not really a big deal except during diaper changes, during potty training, during baths, during times of nakedness, during times of laughter between brothers, leaving about 3 minutes of the day when it doesn’t matter,
that I really wouldn’t have known what to do with a girl either, that my hope for a girl was really tied up in the fact that I thought I might know what to do with someone more like ME (but I was wrong about that, too),
that one boy is NOT like another boy, and just because I have two of the same, they ARE NOT and COULD NOT be alike if they tried,
that I must parent differently, to each child, to each situation; that what worked yesterday, or even 10 minutes ago, might not work ever again, and I will forever feel like I’m starting over,
that as a mother of boys, I have battles to fight for them, battles that are different from my own, battles I will pay attention to, point a finger at, and help them conquer,
that I have no idea how to raise a man, that I am grateful for the hours and the days of their boyhood, hopeful that the little things and tiny moments will add up to something really wonderful when they have facial hair and wallets and keys to cars that I’m afraid for them to drive,
and that I am a wonderful mother to boys.
I would have been happy, truly happy, of course, with whatever came down that birth canal. But there is a particularly wonderful joy that comes from surprises. My boys surprise me every day, and I surprise myself, too.
Brandi Lee is a stay-at-home mother of two boys by day and recently turned working mom and photographer on nights and weekends, or whenever her children are asleep or not looking. Her life B.C. (before children) gave her fulfillment as a high school English teacher, and she finds that photography fills that same place in her heart, one of personal connections with people. Her ultimate goal is to balance work with family time, to be both a provider and nurturer, but she would settle for a trip to the bathroom by herself and an uninterrupted train of thought. Brandi’s visual storytelling can be viewed at Balee Images and a monthly guest author at Parenting Without A Parachute.
Image Credit, Brandi Lee of Balee Images