Raising four girls a la Little Women has long been a fantasy of mine. Naturally, Jo is my favorite March woman (you’re crazy if she isn’t yours too), with Marmee following at a close second. I have always found Marmee’s parenting style to be quite inspiring: her beautiful example of empathy, the way she empowered her children to stand up for themselves and those around them, her nonviolent practices. I really could gush on and on.
I’ve also spent years existentially crisis-ing through my past experiences as an adolescent girl, scheming about how I could cultivate a life different — better — for my daughters than I had for myself, free of incessant self-doubt, self-hatred, all-girls-everywhere-hatred, perfectionism, submission, hyper-sacrifice, and over-apologization (coining this word now). You know, the basics. I’m not stupid or naive enough to say that I had it all worked out, but I had a plan in mind that I was truly excited to put into action and see where it took my daughter(s) and me.
And then I found out my first was a boy. Well, okay, that was an interesting twist, but in all likelihood another child would soon follow, and then maybe I could finally put my master plan into action. Strangely, my obsession with having a girl was so strong, it lead me to feel a lot of worry about the dynamics of the relationship between Real Life Son and Completely Made Up Daughter. I haven’t an older brother, but those are often portrayed as fatherly, protective figures over younger sisters. Real Life Son’s existence was seriously getting in the way of my creating a perfect life for Completely Made Up Daughter.
Today, I’ve got a fire engine obsessed toddler son who has a knack for turning absolutely everything into a vehicle of some kind, including that anatomically correct male Waldorf doll complete with cloth diaper that I bought him. Today, I also have boy 2.0 in utero. My aspirations about mothering my own little March-inspired clan will forever float above my head as mere daydreams. I am making choices about how to socialize my boys on a minute-by-minute basis, and I’ve recently realized that I’m going to have to come to grips with the fact that I need to get some new ideas in rotation. This is a challenge that excites me but also leaves me at a complete loss.
Internet, are you out there? It’s me, MMC. I’m wondering how to go about raising feminist boys.