How becoming a boy mom transformed the way I see men

The thing about becoming a parent is that it truly transforms how you see the world.

How becoming a boy mom transformed the way I see men

Let me be honest: I don’t buy much into gender stereotypes.

Beyond the reality that my two sons have male parts and testosterone coursing through their veins, I try not to read too much into their sex. One of my boys loves quietly reading books and coloring pictures. The other loves screaming, running and punching things. They’re both mine, born 18 months apart. Both completely unique individuals. As far as I’m concerned, they’re both ‘all boy.’

So when I call myself a boy mom, I’m not so much talking about the gendered toys or stereotypes—no, it’s not that at all.

What I wasn’t prepared for in my new identity as a boy mom was how having sons would connect me with men in a whole new way.

That’s the thing about becoming a parent—it truly transforms how you see the world.

Growing up as a girl, I always saw boys as “the other.” The feminist in me read stories about male privilege and the glass ceiling, and saw men as part of the problem. As a female, I saw men in some ways as antagonistic—keeping women out of power, leadership and even sacred spaces. I knew men, but I never identified with boys and men.

Until I became a mom.

Just like those men who say that becoming a father changed how they saw (or objectified) women, I, too, have felt my view on the male species change because of the gifts of my sons.

I first realized how motherhood had changed me when watching a news story about a police officer who had been shot and killed while on patrol. The local news station interviewed his mother, as they often do, in a brief soundbite about her son. After sacrificing his life in the line of duty, his mom spoke 8 seconds on the air—an almost insultingly short slice of his precious life.

In the past, I would have watched the report and thought, “Oh wow, that’s so sad,” and swiftly moved on. But that night—with my 9-month-old firstborn son sleeping in the bedroom next door—a deep, gut-level emotion washed over me. Tears filled in my eyes. A lump swelled in my throat. That poor man. That poor mother. That police officer was her baby.

That police officer was her baby.

I was equally surprised to discover the sweet affection I suddenly felt towards awkward, pre-teen boys. Full of acne and hormones, awkwardness and aspiration, I recently watched these unsure teens meander their way through our town and felt a powerful maternal instinct. In only a handful of years, my baby will be one of these creatures: a sweaty, crush-obsessed, boy-turning-into-a-man. I can’t help but look at these 14-year-old boys and smile. They are somebody’s baby.

Those teenage boys are somebody’s baby.

I saw an old man in the coffee shop last week. His hands shook as he fumbled to bring his coffee cup to his lips. He kept to himself, aiming to maintain as much independence as he could muster with his cane by his side to guide his gait. His mother is most likely not here anymore. But he had a mother. And she loved him fiercely. And now he has to go through life without her. Until the end of her days, he was her baby.

That old man was somebody’s baby.

My husband is a wonderful man and father. But becoming a parent has taught me that good men don’t just show up fully formed—they are molded and pushed and nurtured in hundreds of thousands of small and large ways. He’s a wonderful husband now, but he’ll always be his mother’s baby. And I am so grateful for the good man she raised.

My husband will always be her baby.

Some day, my boys won’t have their sweet little voices and soft little bodies. They’ll be large and limb-y, too busy for me and in a rush to meet up with their friends and maybe, to meet girls. Thinking of their angel faces with facial hair makes me laugh—and cry.

My boys will always be my babies.

But my little boys will some day—sooner than it might seem—become men. Big, strong men with responsibility and expectations. With people looking up to them, and burdens weighing them down. With cultural notions of masculinity to accept or reject. With the opportunity to be tender or heroic. With their own conceptions of what it means to be a “good man.”

And the world desperately needs more good men.

It’s an honor to help guide, raise, anchor and launch my little men along the way.

But no matter how big my sons get, they’ll always fit perfectly inside my heart.

Those men will always be those mothers’ sweet sons.

And I will always feel a warmth and depth of connection with men around the world, because of these darling boys of mine.

And they will always be my babies.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

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Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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