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Before I begin writing this—I want to say that these are only my personal views on today's world. These are my opinions and just that, but a huge part of me feels this needs to be heard. I am a first time Mom, and a young one at that, whether this changes how you view this piece... I'll let you decide.
I also want to mention—this isn't even just meant for the parents of boys... this is meant for every young parent, new parent, old parent, scared parent, unexpectedly expecting parent.. this is honestly for every parent out there. Because let's face it, raising kids in today's world is fucking TERRIFYING. Even if this is your fifth run around this rodeo... so to speak.
When I first imagined myself having children, it was from a rather young age. I remember having dreams of a family when I was around 12 years old. Some of you may read this and wonder why I spent my childhood focused on raising children.
Let me explain.
My mom was a stay at home mom until I turned 17, for those years of my life I watched her take care of our home. She truly seemed like the happy house wife you would see on TV. Maybe this gave me unrealistic expectations from the beginning, but for years I imagined myself in my mother's shoes. I imagined being the stay at home mom, with two kids, and a working husband who came home everyday to cooked meals. I pictured my home as a cozy sanctuary, where I would watch my children flourish and discover. I pictured a home full of warmth, comfort, pride, affection, and most of all unconditional love.
This was a vision I had for many years. I did change parts of my fantasy as I grew up, of course. I added in a career, a few dogs... I envisioned vacations to Mexico, Jamaica, Hawaii. You know just to make it even more realistic.
As we know, life never tends to work in the order we plan, hell I mean what's even the point of a plan? We should always be expecting these random curve balls (more like meteorites, feeling like they could possibly end the entire world at any moment). But regardless of how much you prepare yourself for those random spirals off track, they often still feel like they shift your sense of gravity, stability, normalcy. Regardless there are some curve balls that you can never truly prepare yourself for.
My world was flipped completely upside down the day I found out I was pregnant with my son, three days before my 20th birthday. Although I'm sure this is the majority of reactions for young parents, I was one of the very unexpectedly expecting. I wanted kids from a very young age, as I'd said, but in my visions my career was always on the go; I was financially stable, the perfect picture. Unfortunately that wasn't exactly how things happened for me.
I remember the day I went out to buy the test... I told myself I was fully prepared to see the results. I can definitely admit now that I wasn't at all prepared. When I saw those two pink lines my stomach dropped to the pit of my feet, my heart jack hammered, and my hands shook as I picked the test up to make sure I wasn't seeing things.
I think it probably took me a solid week for reality to finally sink in, and before that it was pure shock. From the very first time I saw my son on that ultrasound I knew just how much I would love him. I knew that I would protect him with every ounce of my strength, that I would give him every moment of my time, and that I would never allow him to feel inadequate in this world. That was the promise I made to my unborn son the day I laid eyes on his tiny beating heart...
It almost saddens me now that in the beginning I felt having a boy would be easier. They're tougher, and they don't get hurt by words as easily. They don't get their hearts broken as easily as girls. The more I thought about this, the more I hated myself for having this point of view; this perspective that has been imprinted into our minds of what our sons should be like. From that day I made another promise to my sweet boy... I promised I would never have expectations of how he would be.
As I progressed in my pregnancy, I began to question what raising a child in today's world would be like. In a world where women are afraid, and told that they have to be kind ladies, generous, loving, beautiful, gentle, powerful, but not too powerful... Our sons are expected to be the perfect gentlemen, strong, brave, loyal, and yet rough around the edges... The expectations, they are everywhere.
I became even more sad with this realization. I didn't want my son growing up in a world where he felt his personality traits had to be cookie cutter. I wanted him to know that he was allowed—no above all, he was encouraged to be eccentric and charismatic, rambunctious and courageous, timid and gentle if he wanted to be. I promised to show him that every aspect of him would be accepted.
I wanted to show him that even if he wanted to be a rambunctious wild child, there was nothing wrong with acknowledging the beauty in butterflies instead of the power in dragons. There was nothing wrong with wanting to be gentle with his baby dolls, and an hour later, be rough with his superheros fighting crime. I wanted him to know that his personality could be limitless.
I continued making these promises to this tiny human that resided within me as the months went on. With each day came a new promise and along with it, a new fear... whether rational or irrational, these fears soared through my mind like lightspeed jets.
I wanted to protect my little boy from the cruelty of this world, from the heartache, from the judgement, and the boundaries that he will feel boxed within. I wanted him to know that there were boundaries you have to follow, and there are boundaries you must purposely deter. I would stress him not to be afraid at times to go astray from these borders.
The boundaries he should follow would be of basic humanity of course... to use his manners, to know right from wrong, to accept the word no, and to know when to use the word no... when it came to material items, physical relationships, personal relationships, emotional wellbeing, or even simply his own mental sanity. He didn't need to feel obligated or guilty for not wanting to help someone if they had expended his limits.
I promised myself to teach him the boundaries of consent. I wanted to teach him that regardless of how a situation escalated, his power to say no should always be just as relevant, and vice versa. From a very early age, I wanted him to understand that no meant no; no didn't mean maybe, no didn't mean I can sneak behind mommy's back and do this, no didn't mean I'll find a way to get what I want, no didn't mean try again later, or maybe in a week... no simply meant fucking no. When he is old enough, he would be taught that "I'm not ready" didn't have any hidden meaning. That saying those words... actually showed power, and not weakness. He will likely still be growing up in a society that believes if males aren't ready for sex they must be gay or something.
There were so many lessons I'd barely learned myself, yet as a mother I knew I made choice. I was obligated to teach him each and every one. I felt that I was obligated to teach him that being different in this world is dangerous, but all of that danger is so worth it in the end.
I feared trying to teach him these lessons, I feared trying to be the most amazing mother, and terribly failing myself and him... I mean let's be real, how was I supposed to perfect parenting when I had only just tasted what being a legal adult was like? How was I expected to take a tiny human home, and raise him to be someone who wasn't afraid to be himself?
I feared raising him to be kind hearted in a world that just wanted his heart to be caged and dark. I feared what would happen if I didn't raise him to my own expectations, that regardless he would fall into the traps of society. I feared he would lose his sense of self worth amongst this dangerous world.
I never believed that as soon as I held that boy, every fear I had of not knowing what to do would wash away. It would become instinct, every motion. I never believed it, but out of everything I was told about raising a child, I think this was one of the biggest truths.
The moment I had my son in my arms, the overwhelming sense of love and peace I felt truly brought tears to my eyes. Suddenly, there was a whole new sense of defense that ignited inside me over the unconditional love I felt for my son.
Did I still question his future and who he would be in this ever growing world? Of course I did. But somehow hearing that shrill cry, from the tiny human I created within my own frail body... had brought me peace at last.