I have two children, Charlie and Patrick. They are bright, energetic, silly, and kind. They love trucks and coloring and Paw Patrol, painted toenails and mommy’s necklaces, going to the pool and crashing into things and laughing hysterically. Sometimes they happily smear mud in their hair, and sometimes they don’t want to paint because it will get their hands dirty. They are just as likely to make me swoon and take a million pictures of how adorable they are as they are to make me want to tear my hair out and run for the nearest locking bathroom for a breather.
And yes, they happen to both be boys. But they are children first.
Now that every milestone and moment is splashed across social media for everyone to consume and comment on, it seems like moms are increasingly being categorized, either by themsleves or by others, as a #boymom (cleans up a lot of pee on the floor, buys stock in air freshener, knows the names of all construction equipment ever, stain removal expert) or a #girlmom (throws tea parties, reads books and gazes lovingly into her perfect daughter’s eyes, has a separate closet full of bows and makeup).
I’m here to say stop it, guys. It’s just not necessary.
When I read anything relating to the culture of “being a #boymom” or similar, it all seems to revolve around the following scenarios:
- “Dirt on their knees, no shirt, popsicle smeared face! #boymom” Except girls can, and should do this too. By categorizing this as something that “boys do,” you are reinforcing the cultural message that girls shouldn’t be messy and active.
- “Trucks and cars and trains and Star Wars toys all over! #boymom” Toys are for everybody. Girls like playing with those types of toys, too, and some boys may prefer to play with toys more traditionally seen as “girl toys.”
- “Look at my kids running wild and wrestling and play fighting! #boymom” Sex or gender isn‘t an excuse for bad behavior. Creating a “boys will be boys” culture only hurts women in the long run. Teach ALL children to treat others with respect. It’s not okay to be violent because you have a penis.
- “Boys love their mamas! #boymom” That’s all well and good, but if that’s true, my poor husband has gotten the shaft twice. Both of my kids go through mommy and daddy phases in equal measure and for different reasons.
- “The house is such a mess when I come home! #boymom” Again, girls are not magical neat freaks, and we are not responsible for cleaning up the messes that men make.
Not only does #boymom culture excuse any number of sins that our sons commit, but it reinforces outdated and untrue stereotypes of girls and women. And what mom wants to be characterized as passive, as delicate, as afraid? What mom wants her daughters to be characterized that way? And who wants to marry a man that pees all over the bathroom floor, forgets to wipe his face after a meal, and thinks all women are delicate flowers?
So, don’t call me a #boymom. Call me a mom. And you be one, too.