Some people roll their eyes at the term, but I used to be a card-carrying member of the boy mom club. My two boys were just under 22 months apart but worlds different from each other—one lanky and one solid, one quiet and easy and one intent on visiting as many emergency rooms as possible and sneakier than a raccoon. One even slept through the night starting at 8 weeks, and one is now 14 and still has yet to sleep through the night.
Both of my dimpled, blue-eyed boys were my little buddies, my guys, built-in best friends, and playmates for each other who stole my heart and kept me busy. Sure, everything smelled like pee no matter how clean, and I had to carry a first-aid kit everywhere, but I loved being a boy mom. I dressed them alike, we played all day, and don’t even get me started on how fabulous it was to be able to reuse all of the baby clothes!
I got comments, of course, from various strangers or random church acquaintances: When are you going to try for a girl? Mama needs a girl! Hopefully, next time you can get your girl and be done!
Never mind that no one knew we even wanted more kids, people saw a mom with two boys and assumed she was missing something in not having a daughter. I rolled my eyes and sighed about it with the other boy moms I knew, friends who had been blessed with only sons and thus also were “blessed” with similar questions and comments.
We didn’t make shirts or anything, but we were an unofficial group, friends who bonded over our boys, shared shoes that had survived toddlerhood, swapped clothing, potty-training advice, methods for getting rid of that pee smell—we got each other. I had plenty of mom friends who had all girls or both sexes, but there was this unspoken connection between us boy moms. I’m sure the term was born of moms sick of trying to convince the world they were happy with just their sons, and we clung to the title with pride.
I was a boy mom. I was raising young men, future fathers, someday husbands. I didn’t put much thought into what it meant for them to be boys, I just loved my sons and loved being their mom. I loved being their mom so much that my husband and I decided we’d love to have another.
We knew the comments would be incessant: This one better be a girl! Hope it’s a girl this time! Team Pink! Praying you get your girl! So we didn’t even announce my third pregnancy until a week before we would be finding out the gender. I loved being a boy mom and wasn’t willing to listen to months of people making it seem like having all boys was somehow a disappointment or a failure.
This third baby wasn’t an attempt to give my boys a sister, it was just an attempt to have a third kid. In fact, I whispered to my husband that I’d hoped this new baby was a boy so that everyone who had made comments about hoping for a girl would be put in their place. “Ha! You have to love him, anyway! That’s what you get!” Just before walking into the ultrasound to find out, I imagined three little dimpled boys, all in matching shirts, forever referred to as “my boys.”
We walked out of the ultrasound with a sort of shell-shocked realization that things were about to change: we were having a girl.
We didn’t announce it right away, partially, if I’m honest, to punish the people who were falling all over themselves to wish a girl upon us. I didn’t want them to be right, didn’t want them to get what they wanted when their comments had been so hurtful for so long. I loved my boys and never once saw either of them as a runner-up of any kind, neither were disappointments, yet I knew the second we announced that a little lady was on the way, they’d be treated as such.
Our phones buzzed with friends and family checking in, anxious to know the answer. One Facebook friend said she refreshed my page so often looking for the announcement that her phone died! I called my best friend at the time to tell her the news personally. She, being a fellow boy mom, had never made any of the comments I’d hated about hoping for a girl that seemed to minimize how special my sons were. She knew, she got it, so I felt safe in telling her the news first.
“Oh,” she sounded disappointed, but I shook it off as surprise. I texted another of my boy mom posse to tell her the news but received no response. A few days after we announced on social media, I realized I hadn’t heard from a few friends I normally interacted with fairly frequently—they hadn’t commented, hadn’t liked a post, hadn’t interacted with me at all, so I went to their profiles to see if all was well in their worlds only to discover that I’d been unfriended. One even went so far as to block me.
Friends I’d been messaging with the night before the ultrasound, friends I’d shared the last few years of motherhood with, just gone. Not all of them, to be sure, but a good half dozen people cut me out of their lives with the click of a button at the news of a girl. I’d been unceremoniously kicked out of the boy mom club.
Over the next few months, it happened a few more times. A woman at church with three sons told me she wouldn’t be attending a shower if I had one because she was too jealous. Friends who’d kept me connected on social media stopped connecting in person, stopped inviting me to park days and girls’ nights. Worst of all, my best friend started fading out. I had to initiate the texts, which went unanswered for weeks. I extended invitations that went unaccepted. Finally, eventually, she unfriended me and was gone, too.
Friends I’d navigated new motherhood with, gleaned wisdom from, gained encouragement among—they just left. I wasn’t a new mom, sure, but even with this being my third baby, it was still a new experience, a new person who proved to be as different from her brothers as they were from each other. She required learning new things that had nothing to do with her sex, and I could have really used those friends during the nights I was crying, scared, learning. Food allergies, cloth diapers, extended breastfeeding, middle children, entertaining older kids while caring for a newborn—there were so many things to juggle that mom friends help each other maintain sanity through, but my boy mom friends, at least most of them, were nowhere to be found.
I was hurt, disappointed, a little embarrassed, but I was also mad. I still had two sons, which still made me a boy mom, right? Did adding a daughter mean losing my membership? Apparently, it did. Having only sons made me a boy mom, but adding a daughter made me a mom of boys.
Nothing changed about who I was, about the challenges of motherhood, recovering from C-sections, battles over screen time, or grandparents wanting to stuff the kids with candy. Motherhood is difficult no matter who you’re raising, no matter what colors you dress your kids in, no matter how they go to the bathroom. When you’re in the trenches it doesn’t matter what’s in their diapers, moms just need each other.
I’ve made new friends in the years since I lost so many. Some are girl moms, some are boy moms, some are one-and-done moms, some are big family moms. Some have grown kids, some have small kids, some have teenagers. Some homeschool, some use public school, some are single moms, some are stepmoms, some have adopted, some have grown their families through IVF.
I have so many mom friends now, all these years later, from whom I still glean wisdom, who I still text with questions, and who I still share advice with, but I’ll always wonder how much different motherhood would have been if I hadn’t lost my membership to the boy mom club.