On Feminism and Raising Sons

Last week was International Women’s Day. Google showed a beautiful ad on Hulu about how “the future is female”. For the first time, I got a little wistful about the daughter I thought I was going to have. We were “Team Green” up until birth, and for months everyone who looked at me told me they were sure I was having a girl. The thought terrified me, since mother/daughter relationships are often fraught with extra emotions, complications, and stress. But it was also exciting to think of raising a badass little feminist daughter. When my baby came out a boy, I was relieved to not have to deal with the mother/daughter dynamics. I’ve hardly thought about that other reality I could be living, one where I am raising a little girl in a world where she can wear science onesies and not have to be a princess. But on this day, the one where girl moms were celebrating their femaleness and how they share that with their daughters, where everyone was celebrating the way things are improving for women regularly, I felt a little twinge of “where do we fit in, me and my son?”

How do I teach my son that women can achieve anything in the workplace when I’ve taken time off to be with him? How do I show him trying to pull others’ up doesn’t take anything away from his privileged status? The news in the wake of the Parkland shooting was abuzz with how our sons are broken. Young, white men are buying guns and shooting down their classmates because they feel left out, or left behind, or just never learned to talk about what they’re feeling at all.

As I thought about it, I realized what a gift it is to be home with him. To help him learn from infancy how to name his feelings, to show him how valuable he is for the way he wakes up smiling in the morning and the way he nuzzles his face into me. He is all love. He’s all love and joy, and I hope to protect that and keep that safe for as long as possible. He knows how to be good to women right now. His mama is his whole world. I’m charged with the enormous task of keeping all of his soft and wonderful insides safe from the toxic masculinity present in our world. So I’ll teach him to be good to himself, good to me, good to animals and plants and people we meet. So when he’s a big man out in the world, he’ll know to think of how others are feeling, and know to be good to them.

There’s always more to say, but he’s awake. Time for a happy boy and morning snuggles.

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