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When I found out I was pregnant with a boy, I cried. And not with joy. I sobbed to my mother on the phone, “A boy?! What am I going to do with a boy?! Boys are loud and dirty and obnoxious. They like worms and mud and farts. I don’t want a boy!!!” 

My mom, the mother of a girl and a boy, tried to calm me. “Honey, you’ll be OK. It will all be OK. Boys are fun to have. You’ll learn.”

I was doubtful. 

I was a girly girl. My mom dressed me in frilly dresses and bows. I grew up playing with dolls, dancing, playing the piano, and singing. I was not athletic in any way. I was quiet and calm and loved to read. My daughter, aged two at this time, was so much like me. She was the little girl I had always wanted. I loved every minute of dressing her up and doing all the things I knew with her. I’d always pictured myself as the mother of daughters.

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When I delivered that 10-pound (yes, 10-pound) baby boy, he had some trouble responding at first. Doctors tried various techniques to arouse him. However, once he heard my voice, he wiggled and looked up at me. That was our start. We were in this together, but we would have a lot to learn. 

I was surprised to learn that baby boys could be sweet, content, and calm.

He liked to cuddle and showed favoritism to me early on. He always fell asleep with my hair between his fingertips. I hadn’t before believed in that special mother-son bond.

As time went on, I learned things like crashing toy cars was hilarious, hammering a plastic nail with a plastic hammer took just as much coordination as the real thing, and putting dirt in toy dump trucks was actually fun.

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I didn’t know collecting special rocks required the ability to find uniqueness in rocks that, at first sight, appeared to all be the same. I had no idea picking up trash on walks was the same thing as a treasure hunt.

It never ceased to amaze me how many surfaces from which balls could be bounced.

His scientific curiosity forced us to learn about gravity, motion, speed, and chemical reactions through various home experiments and activities that began with, “Mom, I want to try this and see what happens.”

Whereas a song and dance routine were easily taught for my daughter’s talent show, I was instead, creatively challenged with choreographing a pogo stick routine for my son.

It took me years to learn the rules and strategies of various sports.

Most of the time, I had no clue why a referee blew his whistle, but I tried to learn as I went along. There were so many position names and responsibilities he would have to explain to me. I also discovered the essentials for surviving as a spectator in weather from 20-degree rain to 120-degree heat. Knowing the only thing I could catch was a cold, he accepted the fact that playing catch with me meant this: I would throw. He would catch. He would roll it along the ground back to me. Repeat.

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As he grew, I was educated about airsoft rifles, bullwhips, and carpentry tools.

When he became a sports car enthusiast, he made flashcards for me so I could learn to identify various models on the streets. He tried, only once, to teach me to use a gaming controller but quickly decided I was beyond hope, so he settled for letting me watch now and then. He took an interest in machining and, just like every other masculine topic, I was clueless as he explained the various tools, processes, and terms used in that field.

He eventually became a serious golfer, and he patiently taught me the terminology and proper spectator etiquette. As hard as I tried, I could never see the ball once it was lofted into the air, so I watched, obliviously believing every shot was a good one. However, cheering and hollering were no-nos.

I watched him play basketball his junior year of high school. I discovered the pride of watching that 6-foot, 3-inch young man jump and score, and it hit me:

That’s my boy. My boy.

The boy I didn’t want to have. What I would have missed! How much I have learned!

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Although we tend to focus on teaching our children and helping them grow, do they not do the same for us? I am not the same person I was before becoming a boy-mom. I am more well-rounded and more knowledgeable because of him. I’ve experienced things I never would have even tried. I learned how to do things I never would have attempted.

I have learned so much from him, not just the other way around. 

I have been honest with my son about my fears, and even dread, I had about having a son. Even though I felt guilty for admitting that, I wanted him to be the one to learn a lesson. Things happen for a reason. No matter what we are given in life, we will learn to handle it. And chances are, we will look back and be so grateful for the experience.

Janelle Sims

I am a retired teacher, wife, and mother of two teenagers. I have a published memoir entitled, "Getting Along with MiSsy" as well as a coping workbook. I am a freelance writer for various publications andI blog about my journey with Multiple Sclerosis.

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