Facebook has learned that I have exactly no willpower when it comes to 10 p.m. ads for buying stuff.
“Half-off my first box of this new meal delivery service? Yes, please!”
“Yes, I do need this pore vacuum cleaner!” (Actually, I really love this purchase, FWIW.)
Through whatever magic powers they possess, Facebook has also learned that I have two sons, and I get a ton of ads for #boymom gear. I’ll be honest, I have been tempted to buy most of it. I am proud to be their mom and love my boys to pieces.
But in the end, I click away and don’t buy.
Because I have two sons, but I am not a #boymom.
I am 100% anti-mom-judgment. That stands for this topic too. Just because I don’t identify as a #boymom doesn’t mean that I don’t get it, or that I judge moms that do.
My family isn’t gender-neutral, or even close really. For example, we found out the sex of each of our kids during pregnancy, and we don’t insist on gender-neutral clothing or toys at home.
But #boymom culture is not for me for these three reasons.
First, I am not interested in giving my children the message that there are specific behaviors, activities or desires that they must adhere to because they are boys:
“Spending all day at baseball! #boymom”
“Hamper full of dirt-stained clothes! #boymom”
If they find their joy on a baseball field, then I will be at every game with a cooler full of orange slices and Gatorade, cheering them on from the bleachers. But while I am perfectly willing to spend a day on the field and an evening stain-treating clothes, I am not willing to attribute it to #thatboymomlife.
Aren’t we passed these gendered stereotypes already?
What if my boys grow up to hate competitive sports, but love music, or dance, or art? Would I still be a #boymom if I am sitting in a theater as they leap across a stage? If the hashtag doesn’t apply to all the possibilities their lives have in store, it’s not for me.
This also goes for my daughter.
I do not want her to second guess her deep love of digging for worms or her current obsession with NASA because it’s “boy stuff.”
My youngest had only been in nursery school for a few weeks before he came home saying that “pink is for girls.” Gender norms are still alive and well out in the world, so it’s important to me that they not be reinforced at home.
Second, #boymom feels too close to “boys will be boys” for my comfort, an expression that has been used way too much recently to dismiss inappropriate and aggressive actions from boys and men. There is no behavior that should be given a pass because of gender.
There are normal kid behaviors that I anticipate (and probably a lot that I don’t) and I am prepared to handle them as they happen. But I worry that labeling a behavior as a “boy thing” creates a very slippery slope towards accepting pretty egregious acts as to-be-expected.
Again, this is important for my daughter to see as well: There is no behavior that your brothers can get away with because they are boys. And there is no level of disrespect that you should tolerate in the world, just because it happens to come from a man.
Lastly, my boys may not always be boys. One day, one of my children may summon the courage to announce that they do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. The world is going to make this hard enough for them—I don’t need to make it even harder by making them doubt my unwavering support, for even a moment.
Kids latch onto stuff in ways that adults cannot predict. “She always wears that #boymom shirt, so she must really love that I am a boy. I don’t want to tell her that I am not, and make her sad.”
Perhaps my greatest parenting responsibility of all is to show my children that my love for them is not based on anything except their existence. And my identity as their mother has nothing to do with their gender.
I am just #mykidsmom. And I’m here for all of it.