What’s a #Boymom Anyway?
If you search Instagram there are currently over 4,000,000 public posts with the hashtag #boymom. It has become a rallying cry and label that moms of boys have embraced the world over in the last several years. It’s everywhere from social media, to clothing, to car decals, cups and hats. It is part badge of honor, part ready made excuse, part way of life. However, #girlmom isn’t that big of a movement with only a little over 1,000,000 public instagram posts. Why though? What makes #boymom such a bigger movement than #girlmom?
I am currently working on growing my fifth son. Meaning at the last count I already have FOUR sons. If that doesn’t make me a #boymom I don’t know what would. I remember when I found out the sex of new baby making a post in my local mom group asking if this officially makes me a #boymom now and not only was the answer a resounding “duh, yes,” there were many who said as far as they were concerned I’ve always been a #boymom. So… why would I need to ask? How, with four sons already, could I be unsure about my status as a #boymom? Well, there is one simple little thing that has always held me back from embracing it – my daughter.
But What If I’m a #Girlmom Too?
I have always wondered that if I embrace the label #boymom, would be erasing my often overlooked daughter as a #girlmom? Often, especially while I am pregnant, people seem to sort of forget that I have her. I regularly get asked if I was hoping to finally get a girl or if I am sad to have all boys. Most days I kindly inform these people that I already have a daughter, but sometimes, with strangers who only see me with two or three of the boys, I just smile and say that we are never hoping for anything more than a healthy baby and just don’t bother correcting them. (Which is the truth, we don’t try for any particular gender or just hope for one over the other.)
When I think of #boymom culture I think of moms of only boys. Moms who embrace the stereotypes that having boys equals mess, insanity, risk taking and pee everywhere. As a mom of four boys currently ranging from fourteen to three years I will admit, the stereotypes are earned. There is mess. There is insanity. There is a whole lot of unnecessary risk taking. And lets just not talk about the pee – there is a lot of pee. A lot. Never expect to come to my house uninvited and for my bathroom to smell like anything other than pee. To me being a #boymom means you deal with all of those things with a level of resignation, pride and hot mess-ness. All the while you chauffer boy children from sport to sport while bemoaning the lack of lace and frills and pink, twirly dresses and the calm quiet play of dolls and dress up.
Now, remember – I have four boys, FOUR, and only ONE girl.
Girls are SO all those things and more. They are so gross, y’all. I don’t know what it is in the minds of moms that makes them think girls are inherently easier, neater, and less likely to get pee everywhere, but all I can think is that it is some sort of amnesia that helps women want to reproduce. (*cough* And overwhelming societal expectations that girls should be and behave as ladies while boys are given a free pass to be gross, adventurous, loud and free to be themselves without admonishments of stifling cultural expectations… *cough*)
If you have never had to share a camp bathroom with a dozen young girls you have never experienced true grossness. I know girls who play on football teams, girls who are more into sports than their brothers, girls who don’t care for dresses or frilly things, girls who prefer to befriend spiders and bugs, girls who will climb up the banister of the stairs naked and unafraid while you stand below them debating between having a heart attack and another glass of resignation wine.
Boys and Girls All Around
My daughter is a wonderful combination of girly girl and tomboy. She loves twirly dresses and makeup and dolls. She also loves hiking, fart jokes, wearing high tops with everything, and superheroes. She is a risk taker and loves to explore. One of my favorite memories of her is when she was three and she thought that going outside and finding slugs after the rain and putting them in her hair was an excellent idea. While I do have one son, the current youngest, who is also slug obsessed, he has never thought that they would make good headwear. She would just as often run around naked as her brothers would, and just as often play in the mud.
On the other side of the coin, boys aren’t always going to follow those boy norms either. It isn’t just some boys, or different boys, who don’t follow these societal norms and stereotypes, boys come in a whole range and spectrum of things that they like. I’ve had boys who loved having tea parties – full “break out the teddy bears and toys, fancy tea sets and cookies” tea parties. Almost all of them have gone through dress up and make believe phases, and not just as superheroes and firefighters; I’ve got a lot of photos of boys dressed as Elsa and Snow White.
I have had two boys who were/are terrified of bugs – all of them. One who can not stand getting dirty and has always required being able to immediately clean any mess off him. He wouldn’t even let you paint his hands or feet for crafts. Only one of them has shown an interest in sports in general and only two have ever wanted to play a sport. Some of them are fairly neat in their habits and careful with their possessions, some really don’t care. Only one is fastidious in his hygiene. (Though to be honest one could really use to pick up on his brother’s habits.) Almost all of them would prefer to stay in and read and do creative art things than wrestle or play football.
So, what makes #boymom culture such a big thing? What makes so many moms embrace the ideas and stereotypes that it perpetuates? Is it really such a good thing, or is it harmful in the way of “boys will be boys?” Does it not just set mothers up to pigeon hole their sons into certain boxes? I honestly don’t know. It’s never been a label I’ve been comfortable taking on, even when all I had was just the two older boys. What are your reasons for embracing, or not embracing, the label of #boymom and what does it mean to you?