The Boy I Never Wanted

by Annie Reneau

My son climbs into my bed at sunrise and tucks his little body into the fetal position against my stomach. I drape my arm over him and smell his head, drinking in his baby boy sweetness before drifting back to sleep.

I’m living a scene I never imagined, with a boy I never wanted.

Our first two kids were girls, and I was blissfully happy with that. I know girls. I get girls. (After all, I am a girl.) My girls were very different from each other personality-wise, but they were definitely of the female persuasion. I loved our mother-daughter connection.

Boys, in my mind, were a whole other ballgame. The thought of raising a boy scared the life out of me. I’m not 100 percent sure why, but I think it was because most of the little boys I knew were teeming with an energy that I just didn’t get. They were always running around breaking things and seemed to have no impulse control. I admired my friends who had boys. They were like supermoms who possessed some kind of superpower that I wasn’t born with. I knew some calm, naturally gentle boys, too, but even they couldn’t push me into actually wanting one of my own. I was perfectly content to be a mom of girls exclusively, forever.

So naturally, I unexpectedly got pregnant. And naturally, when the 20-week ultrasound rolled around, we found out it was a boy. I asked the ultrasound tech if she was sure, and she said, “As sure as I can be. You got your boy!” I smiled and said, “I sure did.” But deep down, I was terrified.

I wasn’t devastated, just scared. I knew I’d love my baby whether it was a boy or a girl or something in between. But would I like him? I couldn’t see it. I started buying cute boy clothes, thinking about boy names, and praying for that thing moms of boys had that I felt sure I was lacking. The worries kept coming. What if I get one of those crazy, testosterone-laden, “all boy” boys? What will I even do with that? How am I going to hide my annoyance? What if I screw him up?

Then my boy was born. He looked just like an old man in a tiny baby body, all bald and wrinkly and endearingly adorable.

And boy oh boy, I fell hard and fast. Maybe it was simply the contrast with my feelings going into his birth, but this love felt qualitatively different than my first two newborn rushes. Not better, not worse, not more or less, but different. This was total gushy puppy love. I was smitten with my son. My boy.

In the months and years to come, I’d learn over and over again how very wrong I’d been about mothering boys. It’s not that I got a calm, naturally gentle boy. My son is one of those testosterone-laden “all boy” boys. He runs around and breaks things. He’s loud. He struggles with impulse control. He jumps more than he sits. But he also snuggles and molds himself into me like I’m made of butter. He tells me he wants to marry me when he grows up. That energy and intensity that I thought would drive me batty spills over into his crazy love for me. And the feeling is mutual.

Mom friends who had both boys and girls told me there was something unique about a mother-son bond. I couldn’t see it, but now I totally get it. I still love my mother-daughter connections, but I can’t imagine my life now without that mother-son bond as well. That love is intense, unique and precious.

I needed to have a boy. I see that now. My son is everything I expected a boy to be, but the experience of raising him is nothing like I imagined. Six years ago, I couldn’t fathom the joy I would feel being the mom of a boy. Not only do I love my son to pieces, I also like him, boisterous energy and all. Now I look back at how grateful I was to have only girls and laugh at my silly self. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to raise this amazing little boy, the one I never thought I wanted.