In the summer of 2000, I lay on a table as an ultrasound technician squirted jelly all over my exposed belly. She asked us, “Do you want to know the sex?”
We didn’t have to wait long before she typed onto the screen below our baby’s image, “B-O-Y.”
I was elated—until the panic set in. “I don’t know what to do with a 10-year-old boy,” I said. “I don’t even play sports.”
I received the greatest advice. “Today you’re having a baby! The most you need to know about right now is be careful you don’t get sprayed when you change his diaper.”
It was true. My baby boy just needed me to feed him, change him, and love him. We grew together, and I believed that by the time he was a 10-year-old boy, I would know exactly what to do.
The baby I bonded with turned into a toddler that I loved so much I didn’t believe I had any room left to love another child. The next time I had an ultrasound, my then two-year-old son said, “Mama, why is that lady squirting mustard on your belly?”
Just like that, I became the mother of two boys. It’s been a delightful, fun, stinky mess. But during the 18 years of raising those boys, there has been one constant. I’m not talking about sweaty hockey gear that made me think an animal died in my trunk.
It is a question from other people that gets phrased in different ways:
“So are you going to try for a girl then?”
“When are you guys going to have your girl? Boys are great, but a girlllllll….”
“Do you ever regret not having a girl?”
“You’re still young. Never say never!”
About a month ago, a checker at the grocery store commented on my three gallons of chocolate milk. “Your family must really like chocolate milk.”
“Oh, well, you wouldn’t believe how much chocolate milk two teenage boys can drink.”
“Oh, just the two boys, huh?” she asked. “No girls?”
The power of that one word in that moment—just two boys.
I know she meant no harm. But I can’t help but wonder if some people think a woman must have a daughter in order to feel complete as a mother.
I’ve never felt like anything was missing from my life. When my sons were babies, I fed them, rocked them, and blew raspberries on their tummies while I cry-laughed from their contagious belly laughs. I held them over toilets while they puked and then held them all night long thinking, “This is true love. I wouldn’t do this for anyone else.”
I watched their tear-streaked faces smeared up against the daycare window as I tried to hold it together. I woke up in the middle of the night to a diapered butt in my face when one, or both, had climbed into bed with us. I tied their hockey skates. (Not well.) I laughed with them when they discovered my favorite TV show Friends.
Boys are hungry a lot, but they are easy to please. I get a daily WFD (“What’s for dinner?”) text. I’m not a gourmet chef, but even if I throw a frozen lasagna down on the table, I get a “Thank you, Mom,” as they chow down.
When my boys were little, I remember them running to me and nearly tackling me with their hugs. I remember a baby boy who sucked his thumb and caressed my face with the other hand. The other little boy would sit in my lap and play with my hands.
I have two wonderful boys who are becoming young men. They talk to us about their hopes and dreams for the future. They give us all the gossip. We joke and laugh. I’m holding on to these times so tightly because, just like how fast the toilet paper runs out when you get close to the end of the roll, that’s how I feel about the time I have left with them. Speaking of toilet paper, have I mentioned how awesome boys’ bathroom habits are?
Yes, I’m a mom of two boys, no girls, and I’m more than okay with that. I have the children I was supposed to have. There’s no “just” when I talk about my boys, unless I’m telling people just how much I love them and just how proud they make me. Just then.