It wasn’t until Mandy Brasher finally let herself trust men that she began to trust her ability to raise a man.
When the day finally came to find out the sex of our first child, I must admit that I was hoping for a girl. Boys have always intimidated me. My biological father wasn’t around for most of my childhood so I was raised by my mother and stepfather, who after decades, was still reeling from his own traumatic past. My relationship with both of my fathers’ has been challenging and it created in me a distrust in men that was tough to shake. While I was pregnant with our daughter, my husband and I were in the early stages of our marriage and I was still struggling with how to be a good wife and very soon, a good mother
Our daughter came into our lives in August 2002 and while the newborn phase was very challenging, I felt competent that I could raise her to be a strong, bright and well-rounded human being. Girls made sense to me. I had many girlfriends, a wonderful relationship with my mother, a sister whom I consider my best friend, and a grandmother who was always the matriarch of our family. Female upbringing was like second nature and I never questioned the kind of mother I could be to our daughter.
Four years later, my son was born. While it was a joyful experience to see my husband hold his namesake for the first time, I worried that I was incapable of teaching my son all the things he would need to know when he eventually left our nest and ventured into the world. I wondered if there were things I should do differently with him, but I didn’t know what those things were. My trust issues with men were still lingering and I was fearful that those issues would affect my son negatively. While I was excited to have another child, I was fearful that I may not be capable of raising a good man.
Meeting men at varying stages of manhood made me wonder what influence their mother had had in their lives, especially after I became the mother of a boy. There were a few men I had met who had turned their back on responsibility and chose to never take the giant step into manhood. Then there were those who had manhood thrust upon them because there wasn’t anyone else to be “the man of the house”. The last group consisted of men, like my husband, who had grown into manhood with confidence, a gentle nature and a desire to love. These men graciously took on the role of husbands, partners, fathers and providers. How would I raise that man?
It was frightening to think that I may not have the ability to do just that. I was unsure of how much to hug my son, what kind of discipline to use and whether or not to let him play with dolls. While I wanted him to be happy and well rounded, my biggest fear lay in raising a boy who could not easily move into the age appropriate stages of his life. Or raising a man who would leave his family, hurt another human being or never gain the self-confidence he would need to go out into the world. Instead of trusting myself and my husband, I was living in my fear of men. The fear I had of angry, sad, forceful, absent, and neglectful men from my childhood. Men who lied to me, men who forced themselves on me, men who saw women as a body and not a person. Clearly I didn’t want to raise my son to be that man, but I didn’t know how.
Then I let go of my story and loved my son. As he has grown into his own person, I have finally found the security of parenthood that I had been hoping for. When I finally let myself trust men, I also began to trust my ability to raise a man. My sons’ needs are more closely related to my daughters’ needs than I once believed and that is a wonderful realization. He loves hugs, plays with dolls and soccer balls, and has a heart full of gratitude. We talk about his dreams of becoming a firefighter and a daddy and his sense of humor lightens my heart. I know that he will become a great man one day. My son has taught me an important lesson, raising a boy requires much the same skill set as raising a girl. It requires love and a belief that you, as a woman and his mom, are enough.
This post originally appeared at My Thirty Spot. Reprinted with permission.
Photo: Pierre Omidyar/Flickr