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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bringing Up Men

I may as well get this out there in the open before some insensitive being ‘jokingly’ tells my boys, “Did you know your mummy wanted a GIRL?” I’d better say it first rather than endure heart-breaking, grief-stricken looks of “Is that true?” from them. You know the look I’m talking about; big, gorgeous, brown, eyes laden with unshed tears, a quivering lower lip and a look of betrayal that goes straight your heart and stays there for as long as you live!

Yes, it’s true. I wanted a daughter. Both times round. The first time it didn’t happen, I thought, “Oh well, there’s always next time!” The ‘next time’ came and went, and I struck out again. I thought to myself, “Great! Now what?”

I mourned all those pretty dresses, multi-coloured hairclips and ruffled underwear that I was never going to buy. I lamented all those Cinderella and Snow White theme birthday parties that I would not be able to plan and throw. I kissed goodbye to all those Nancy Drew’s and Malory Tower’s that I would never get a chance to read to her. No make-believe tea parties, no collecting Barbies, no giggling over girl stuff, no advice on nail-polish and make-up and sigh, no sharing deep-dark secrets like first crushes, the ‘IT’ girls, heart aches and what I really thought of Daddy when I first met him.

Was my life only going to be about cricket, football and broken bones? Would I have to be tortured by burp contests and food fights at the dinner table? Did I have to pour buckets of water to separate my two future WWF wrestlers-in-the-making as they practice the Death Grip on each other? Was I going to end up with a permanently hoarse voice thanks to non-stop yelling about toilet seats and smelly socks?

I don’t think I need to spell out that I love my two boys beyond words, beyond measure, beyond every conceivable and inconceivable thought in the universe. They are my heart’s song and my soul’s laughter. Just the mere thought of them brings a lump to my throat and I am so incredibly blessed that they are mine.

But there were times when I missed holding that bundle of pink in my arms. Yes, that’s right… ‘were’, not ‘are’. I made my peace with all the girlie thoughts and realized that I had been presented with a wonderful opportunity here!

We women, aren’t we constantly cribbing about the lack of broad-minded men around us? Men who are free from the traditional thought processes of the patriarchal system? We keep bemoaning the fact that while the previous generation, especially our moms, did a great job in bringing us girls up, they forgot to erase the ‘God complex’ from their little boys’ minds. So, while they raised us, their daughters, to believe that we were no less than men and could scale the highest mountains and swim the deepest seas…they forgot to impart that bit of wisdom to their sons. Suddenly, a whole generation of men was left unable to cope with these strong-willed, free-spirited, independence-happy, beautiful, brilliant women, who were breaking down walls, scaling corporate ladders and achieving many firsts. These men were left feeling defenseless that their arcane methods of ‘taming the shrew’ would no longer hold them in good stead. So while our moms were teaching us to be the best that we could possibly be, they neglected to share this new bit of philosophy with our brothers.

It’s up to women like me to set the balance straight, so that some semblance of order can be restored and peace can prevail. Maybe the Battle of the Sexes can finally reach an easy truce.

Of course I’ll teach my boys karate and kickboxing. But I’ll also teach them the art of whipping up a perfect Irish Cream Soufflé. I’ll endure hours of Bruce Lee’s and spaghetti westerns, but by Georgina, I’m gonna teach them how to sit through a chick-flick. When they tell a girl they’re going to call, they’d better mean it. If a female of the species beats their pants off in a game of chess or even of one-on-one basketball, they should know that it’s a talent to be admired and NOT an effort to be dismissively praised. They have to learn that news of their sweeties’ success should be met, not with condescending pats on the back, but with heartfelt roars of approval, a bottle of well-deserved bubbly and a toast for her future triumphs.

This is all so exciting! There’s so much to do! So excuse me while I put away my dreams wrapped in pink. I now dream in blue, green, yellow, gold, silver and all the colours of the rainbow. I want to colour my boys’ world with sensitivity, imagination and intelligence!

I’ve been blessed with two boys who are simply amazing. Fifteen to twenty years down the line, I hope all the women they meet think so too!

20 comments:

Devil May Care said...

Boys today do know how to whip up souffles apart from a lot of other creamy stories. So I hope your boys grow up to be nice young lads unlike the ones Ive met so far;)
P.S. in case you didn't recognize me Im Anda's cousin:)

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Hi,

Yes, thanfully lots of boys do know what a tiramisu is and some even know how to whip one up! Thanks so much for your wish...that's what we mums always pray for I guess.
And I'm so sorry, but I don't recognize you or Anda...have we met before? Maybe I'm suffering frm a senior citizen moment???

Devil May Care said...

Shonali, Anuja's cousin in Blore:)

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Heyyyyyyyy! Hiiiiiiii!! Ok, not a senior citizen moment, but definitely a stupid goofus moment! So you blog too! Great, I'll be going through your stuff!

Preeti Sharma said...

Great take on the sensitive man. Most really great guys I know are a result of their parents (and some are despite them!) Some of the images are slightly stereotypical and I'd like to believe that our families are above this. Hence I dont think your boys will fall in the condescending bracket even if you dont try too hard. And look on the bright side - a few years from now when a guys hits on you in a restaurant, you'll have 3 men to whip his ass, while my daughter will be knee deep in her tiramisu :) Absolutely love the style of writing.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

P,

I love the rosy picture you paint. This'll be a new dream for me now...guys hitting on me when I'm older!! As for your little angel, yes, you will have to be careful about the tiramisu, lovesongs and roses...she's a beauty as we all know! One flutter of those eyelashes and ooph! Better enroll her into taekwondo classes when she's older...just for safety's sake!
And thanks for the compliment...coming from you, I cherish it!

the mad momma said...

:) i wrote something similar many months ago before i had the bean. on the bright side - you better introduce your two charmers to my bean :)

btw - she calls the tiktikkees - lijud

SM said...

Hi - if and when i do have a daughter, can i please book one of your sons for her? :-)) your son(s) will be such wonderful sensitive soul(s) and you will be the most desirable MIL :-)

SM

Mama - Mia said...

:)

this got me all teary eyed! perfect!

so we have a very important job on hand eh? Mothers of boys!

leme get down to it too!

cheers!

abha

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Dear MM and SM,

And I thought I was the only one! Whenever a friend of mine has a daughter, I quickly book 'her' for one of my boys! It doesn't hurt, does it! So yaay! Bean is on my 'List'! And SM, should I put you down as 'wishful thinking' on the List? May all your dreams and wishes come true!

And Abha, more power to us, I say! May we always have the strength to fight off patriarchal viewpoints and relatives!

And may I always have you guys to commiserate!

Gayathri said...

Very inspiring ...! Have made a note to self ...

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

You've got me by your side on your journey, Gayathri, so don't you worry!

kunju's mom said...

heyy..loved your post... as for men being different..am super happy that times have already changed.. most of my male friends do house work and cook..my hubb also cooks wonderfully and there is thankfully no gender issues at home like i see in the older generation ..

With more moms of boys like you and MM, i can be rest assured my daughter is most likely to find a gem of a man like my dearest husband ;)

Cheers!!

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Dear Kunju's Mom,

It's true what you say, many men are very attentive to their partners needs and are thoughtful too. I've met guys like that too, but somewhere, I've noticed a patriarchal streak tends to run in them. For example, the Man I Married is a great guy who's given me every freedom in the world to do what I like. But note the use of the word 'given'. Why should it be 'given'? Why is it not a guarantee? Why do I need to feel like I need to earn that freedom? It is my right? Not a reward to be handed out to deserving candidates. Do you get my point?

And thanks for the vote of confidence...I really do hope that I can live up to my expectations of myself! And goody! Another girl!! Yay!

kunju's mom said...

i hear ya mamma...

times are changing for better and while we work towards making it bestest, lets make the most and enjoy whatever we have right now...

your boys will be brought up well by you and then they can go ahead and have their own boys who will be like them, and slowly a new trend will emerge ;)

Also, your write ups on your blog will help mold other parents thinking as well ..so there... you are already on a roll... cheers!!

SM said...

Hi there - thanks for your wishes. I tried to find your email to convey this, apologies for posting this as a comment.

Sweet wishes such as yours overwhelm me - having tried OI/IUI?2cycles of IVF till about february - only to be told that i need a 6 month anti TB (latent, not active, in uterus) treatment, as that probably was preventing the embryos from implanting - and most importantly - being warned not to even try as these drugs cause enormous harm to foetus - has left me drained. (poor dh - have no idea what he's going through, too much into my own sorrow) ..... sorry for rambling on in such an incoherent manner - your wishes that day came as a soothing balm - compared to utter strangers who have no qualms in asking/suggesting why we haven't had kids so far - you wishing such nice things for me, who has commented only once - thank you and may all your wishes/hopes be fulfilled.

thanks once again

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Dear SM,

I had no idea! I am so, so sorry about your ordeal. It is not only physically exhausting, but mentally draining too.

I don't know you, but your raw emtion and honesty brought tears to my eyes. I am sending you a warm hug through cyber space, my new friend. Please know that I am with you as you go through this; you are not alone.

My prayers are with you!

Gauri said...

MMMM

My MIL's done a sterling job with both of hers, we'll need to ask her what she did right.

It was interesting to read your side of the story. I think of my responsibility in bringing Maya up and I think sometimes It would be have easier to bring up a boy! But really, it is the same. I don't want Maya to be all about frothy pink and Barbies and princesses. I want her to be able to sock it to a bully, to do as many 'boy' things as she wants. And yet, I have to teach her to be feminine, to close her legs when she sits.....

*sigh*

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Gauri dearest,

You are so right, you know. I can just about imagine you teaching Maya how to drape a sari on a Barbie doll! How to lay a mean karate chop...yeah! That fits the bill.

The danger lies in stereotyping and it's all up to us to negate that as much as possible. A friend of mine bought her one-and-a-half year old son a doll! I salute her! The closest I've been able to do is buy stuffed teddies for mine! But yes, I do host make-believe tea-parties with them and the Elder One can rustle up a mean omlette with the plastic kitchen set I've got him!!

Indyeah said...

This was such a good read.Thanks for leading me here!:)
My two bros can whip up quite a few things specially the elder one who knows how to make tiramisu and more desserts..and he is in the army..:)thats the combo I love:)


''It’s up to women like me to set the balance straight, so that some semblance of order can be restored and peace can prevail. Maybe the Battle of the Sexes can finally reach an easy truce.''
Absolutely!:)

you know this is why I love blogging coz it makes me think about things that I would never have given a thought to otherwise..it would have been trial and error:)

now reading so many perspectives and looking at new issues I am glad I did decide to blog:)

thank you for this amazing post:))


some girls are going to be very lucky in the future..:)