I'm not a Boy Mom or a Girl Mom, I'm just Mom — and it's an important distinction
man and two children on grass field

When I conceived my first born, I was elated. I took four at-home tests to confirm the news, peeing on my hand four times — and on four different sticks. I rushed to the city to tell my husband, with a congratulatory card and a few goodies in a yellow gift bag. There was a pacifier, a bottle, and an adorable Big Bird brush and comb set. And I called my doctor within hours. I scheduled an ultrasound the following week. But when I told everyone else the news, they wanted to know about my unborn baby's sex. Did I want a boy, they asked, or a girl?

I said I didn't care because I didn't. I wanted a child, to be sure. A happy, healthy baby who could (and presumably would) grow to become a happy, healthy kid. But everyone was focused on colors. On labels. Would I be a dance mom or a soccer mom? Would my shower be decorated with pink balloons or blue? And while I learned at my 20-week checkup that I was having a daughter — that I would be having a baby girl — I didn't identify as a "girl mom." My daughter is 8 and I still don't. Because sex doesn't define my daughter. It doesn't dictate her interests or mine, and it doesn't affect how I parent. I treat my son and daughter (more or less) the same. Because I'm not a boy mom or a girl mom, I'm just Mom, and that's an important distinction.



It is a paradigm shift we all should make.

You see, the insistence on gendering your child is odd and forced. I mean, in doing so parents find a sense of security. Of stability. They "relate" to one another's struggles and plights. But my daughter (and son's) sex doesn't define them. Their parts do not determine how they play or their worth — i.e. when my daughter was little she climbed trees and scuffed her knees; my son says his favorite color is pink and he plays with trucks and baby dolls — and their assigned sex isn't any more reflective of their personality than their nose or forefinger. It is a biological component, a physical part of their makeup and DNA.

Plus, when we refer to ourselves as boy moms or girl moms we support and reiterate stereotypes, i.e. boys are rambunctious and rowdy while girls are emotional and sensitive. The former likes potty humor while the latter should cook and clean, and this is dangerous. It repeats history and the message of old, outdated tapes. It reaffirms that in our society there are sex-specific roles, and this sets back our girls yet again, teaching them what they aren't, what they should be, and what they can't do. It teaches our sons to be cold and callous and emotionally withdrawn.

two babies and woman sitting on sofa while holding baby and watching on tablet Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

There's also another problem with these labels, i.e. when we refer to ourselves as boy moms and girl moms we (unwittingly) force our children into boxes which they may not fit. While many children's "gender identity aligns with their assigned gender... for some children, the match between their assigned gender and gender identity is not so clear," an article by Healthy Children states. Telling them what they are and who they should be can create inner turmoil. It can cause children to feel scared, angry, isolated, misunderstood, helpless, hopeless, and alone.

"Young people who are transgender feel powerfully that they are not the gender assigned to them at birth," an article by the Child Mind Institute states. "Even young children might say, 'No, I'm really a boy' or 'No, I'm really a girl' [and] as they get older, they may feel extremely uncomfortable in their bodies," the article continues. "Th[is] disconnect between their experienced gender and their assigned gender can result in acute distress called gender dysphoria... which can be a source of profound suffering."

woman in white t-shirt standing beside woman in black and white stripe shirt Photo by Hillshire Farm on Unsplash

So instead of labeling your children and yourself, consider just going. Just doing. Just being #Mom. Because our children deserve a happy, healthy childhood. They deserve the chance to roam and play and develop on their own, and they should become well-rounded people not because of labels or boundaries but in spite of them. I want my oldest to explore her love of science and math. Right now, I just want my youngest to stop licking strangers and eating dirt. But she will, if she wants. He will, as he grows, and that's because I'm not a boy mom or a girl mom. I'm just Mom — a person and parent who loves her children unconditionally. A person and parent who loves her children, no matter what.








Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less
Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

Keep Reading Show less

Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

Keep Reading Show less