Before you have kids, everyone tells you you're never really ready to become a parent (it's so true by the way). So I read the popular baby books and blogs, took the recommended classes, and made sure I checked off all items on the preparing for a baby checklist. But no matter what I read or heard from friends, there was so much I didn't know until I had my boys.
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails
For some unknown reason, I always pictured myself as a girl mom. But the more I googled and researched everything there was to know about little boys, the more excited I felt. This would be a new adventure. In a few short years, I've learned so much that I didn't know before. Here are 20 things I didn't know before about little boys:
1. Newborn baby boys have HUGE balls.
The Doctors say it's from the mom's hormones and that they'll return to a normal size after awhile, but its shocking at first sight!
2. If they get circumcised, you will feel awful for the first week.
Circumcising your son is a personal choice, but if you do, the Doctor will explain in detail how it's done (cringe). Just know it's a relatively quick procedure, they say it doesn't hurt, and it heals in about 7 days. However, during that time, it looks so red and painful you just feel like an awful parent for allowing it.
3. There are far fewer options when shopping for boys than girls.
Shopping for boys can be challenging, especially when you're trying to find something specific. Go into any store and you will find racks upon racks of outfits for little girls. And as you search amongst them for little boy stuff, you come upon a rack offering a 1/3 of the options they make available for girls. I don't need a baseball or football on my boys' clothing. It doesn't need to be blue either. I need durable and well-made clothes that soft against sensitive skin and doesn't fall apart after the first wash. They don't need a billion options, but some decent options would be nice.
4. Little boys love their mommas.
Not that this should come as a surprise, kids are born loving their parents. But as much as they love playing and rough-housing with dad, they love coming back for a snuggle with mom or looking back to see if mom is watching and approving. It melts my heart to be needed so much by these little souls. It's a big job that can feel heavy sometimes but know they love you and have very low expectations beyond being loved in return.
5. Potty-training is really hard.
The biggest lesson I've learned after potty-training two boys now is to offer them the potty, encourage them to go and let them pick out their own big boy underwear. But let THEM decide when they're ready. It will only lead to more accidents and frustrations all around if you try to force them to potty-train before they are ready. It is NOT more convenient to potty-train early and then have to clean poop out of clothing in a bathroom stall at Chick-fil-A (been there, done that.)
6. Baby boners are real, and they are scary.
Enough said. Don't freak out, it will go away.
7. Poop comes in all shapes, sizes, aromas, consistencies and you need really good wipes.
Newborn poop is disgusting. No matter what diaper brand you choose, it will creep up the back and up the front. Try to dress newborns in clothing that snaps or zips in the front so you can avoid pulling any poopy clothing over their heads (Like this Parade Organics Kimono Gown). Keep a waterproof cover over your mattress and under your crib sheet to protect your mattress from accidents. Keep backup crib sheets, blankets, and baby swaddles or jammies nearby in case you have a middle of the night blow out that needs to be cleaned quickly.
8. You'll touch poop
9. With boys, there's a natural tendency to play rough
It sounds cliche, but my boys can't keep their hands off of each other. One poke leads to a shove, then leads to a kick, and the wrestling starts very early amongst boys. I don't see this in girls, at least not as much unless they have a brother that initiates. Aside from physically separating them, I've accepted this and try to block it out and keep valuables to a minimum.
10. Without prompting, they fall into sports and traditional "boy" toys
It may just be in their DNA, but both of my boys could hit a baseball tossed at them before they were 2. We didn't teach them this, although we've encouraged and supported their love of sports. They love cars, trucks, Power Rangers, Star Wars, and Marvel superheroes. Typical.
11. My boys like dance parties and playing dress up as much as anyone else
I love dance parties. My friends love dance parties. My boys were bound to love dance parties. We have a disco ball and some portable speakers that can quickly turn any night into a dance club. Plus, who needs diamonds and heels when you have Iron Man and Captain America costumes??? Not me.
12. All boy names sound like grown men names, but they'll grow into them
It was hard to pick out boy names. First, it's hard to imagine calling a baby a grown man's name. And second, you'll have to steer clear of any prior boyfriend's names (so hopefully your list is short.) We chose family and friend names, but that pool can run out quickly. Plan early, pick a few, and once you greet your little person to the world, one will just feel right and you'll know.
13. Boys have a lot of energy to exert
Shocking, I know, but its true. The best thing we did was buy a house with a finished basement without a lot of furniture so they can literally run around in circles. They need it, more so than little girls.
14. Momma is their first love, you need to set a good example of what that means
It's hard and a bit nauseating to think of your son married one day. Maybe they will or maybe they won't take that route, but they will have relationships and love other human beings. Being their first love comes with the responsibility of teaching them how to love and how to treat and respect someone you love. It's core to parenting, but mothers being the natural nurturers should be extra cognizant of this and how love is spread throughout the household.
15. Don't spend a lot of money on pants
They'll rip holes in them in weeks. Pants are the one thing I really couldn't pass down to my younger son. They're always sliding on their news, on the ground playing with cars and blocks, most pants don't stand a chance. Old Navy or H&M pants are great, so soft, and inexpensive. If you find a soft pair with reinforced knees, you win.
16. Buy lots of underwear and have backups in your bag at all times
Kids suck at wiping their own butts, even when wet wipes are available. I think it has to do with their little T-rex arms, and I get it, but there is usually evidence left behind. If its more than a few stripes, we toss. Stock up. You don't need to pass down stained underwear. No one wants that.
17. Farts, poop, burbs, puke, butts, penises are all hysterical topics of conversation
Well, it is kind of funny.
18. You'll feel a twang of jealousy when they say they have a "girlfriend", no matter if it's just a friend
The first time my son told me about his FIVE girlfriends was when he was 4 years old. I have no idea why, but my first reaction was to say "I thought mommy was your girlfriend." and then immediately chastised myself for how lame that sounded. I don't want my boys to grow up alone, but I curse the day they bring home their first real girlfriend.
19. They'll be a boyfriend, husband, manager, co-worker, etc. one day - Make sure you set a positive example for how women are to be treated because they will mimic behavior and tone.
I have hope that our children are born at a time when women and other minorities are demanding equality. Voices are being heard, but there is still a long way to go. I want my boys to understand their privilege and respect, take notice, and support others who are different than them. Kindness is the best lesson I can teach my boys. It is one of my top fears (of raising assholes). If your husband, partner or friends talk to you in a negative way, or if you talk about yourself in a negative way, your boys will take notice and respond back in that same way. They are sponges. Next time you yell at your kids for doing something you disprove of, take a second to reflect on your own actions - you might be unintentionally reinforcing bad behavior and actions through your own.
20. Baby boys turn into little boys, then little men so fast.
I had two big babies, they grew out of the newborn phase in weeks. Before I knew it, even before they turned one, they started looking like little boys. In the thick of newborn life, it's easy to think it will never end, but it does quickly. Before you know it they want to and can do most things for themselves. Even in the midst of the chaos, even if you hate every second, stop and remember that it will pass and soon be a distant memory.
That's what little boys are made of
Once my first son Jacob was born, my heart was hooked on little boys. They are just different than little girls, not better. I know that God gives us what we need and not what we think we want and that was definitely true in my case. They've taught me patience and a greater love than I knew possible. Take a second to really observe your child, look into their eyes, listen to their words - it's so meaningful and enlightening to view the world from their perspective and may change your own.