Rugby and bugs; sparkles and plaits – I wasn’t sure I would do it right, confesses Tracy Engelbrecht.
‘It’s a boy!’ squealed the midwife. Yay, a boy! After counting the fingers and toes, and marveling over the fat little cheeks, reality set in. ‘A boy! Gulp. What do I know of boys?’(Well, I knew just enough of some things obviously, but nothing that would really help me here.)
To my newbie eyes, Boy Moms seemed different to Girl Moms. Faster reflexes, louder voices, higher tolerance for swearing and silent brooding. Huge interest in rugby and bugs
, able to snap broken collarbones into place with bare hands. Basically everything I wasn’t.
Would I be able to cut it as a Boy Mom? Single Boy Moms are tut-tutted at a lot – many dire predictions that we can’t raise good strong man-folk without a Man Folk of our own
on standby. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to matter much whether said Man Folk is good and strong himself or not. Just as long as he’s on the premises.
So ja, I worried.
Fast forward several years of muddling on regardless. Bugs are quite cool, I learned. Rugby - still, not so much.It’s a girl
‘It’s a girl!’ squealed the midwife. Yay, a girl! Reality check again. ‘A girl! Eeep! What do I know of girls?’ I’m a Boy Mom now, right? Girl Moms smell good, wear pearls, frown upon burping competitions
. All sparkles and pink stuff and French plaits. And ballet. Again, I didn’t fit the bill.
Raising a strong independent girl was another worry. Was pink the devil, after all? Should I discourage baby dolls and talk of handsome princes?
Several more years of muddling. Pink is now my favourite colour. I’m not averse to sparkles. But still no French plaits.
Pretty soon I forgot about the Girl and Boy thing and focused on raising good strong humans. Sixteen years down the line, I know that I didn’t get the boy or the girl they advertised on the box. I got something better: authentic people, not manufactured Stepford children. Boys with dollies and girls with swords, or vice versa, their interests changed from minute to minute. My motto: Whatever. Let them be, and they’ll be who they are.
My son’s experiences are different to mine, and always will be. So I have to find another way to be close to him. Fortunately, our interests and personalities are similar – we have more in common than not.
My daughter is very different to me. Yet, she’s so emotionally open and free – she makes it easy to understand her. And we’ll also have similar experiences that we can share in the future.
So regardless of gender, with both children, I have a way in, a way to reach them and find out who they are.
That’s the point, right? Finding out who they are, not making them something I think they should be.
All that palaver about how to be a Boy Mom or a Girl Mom, it turns out I’m a Person Mom. Way more my style.Are you a Boy mom, a Girl mom or a person mom? Or dad?
Read more by Tracy Engelbrecht