A Letter to My Son in a House Full of Girls
What I want my toddler son to know about growing up with three sisters
It’s official! Our fourth (and final) baby is a girl. She’s due in May. That means she’ll have two older sisters and one big brother. That little guy is on my mind right now. Will it be hard for him to be the only boy in a house full of girls? Everyone else seems to think so. More often than I expected, this is the response from friends when I share the news: “Poor George. All alone.” But I don’t see it this way at all–I think it might be great.
George is only 19 months old right now so we can’t really have the mom-to-son talk that I’d like, but when the time comes, these are all the things I want him to know.
For starters, you have the best smile in the whole world. With that out of the way, and knowing just how biased I am, here’s something else: I’m so excited for you.
Rather than the baby of the family, you’re going to be a big brother, and I’ll tell you that for all the times I longed for a sister growing up, the one thing I craved even more was the security of a older brother. She’ll look up to you like no one else.
Like a certain prince in London, you’re royalty in this family. Being the only boy means you’ll have (a lot of) your own toys and you have the best chance at scoring new clothes, rather than hand-me-downs three times over. But unlike your namesake in the UK, your shopping trips will likely take place at the Carter’s outlet, so don’t get too excited.
You’re already bigger than one of your sisters and with your dad’s genes, I’m sure you’ll tower over all three by the time you grow up. Around the age of 14, you can expect your sisters to start coming to you for help reaching things, lifting things, opening things, and I hope you’ll always see these chances to help as a blessing, one that you carry on later in life. (Just remember how many times those same sisters helped you reach things, lift things and open things when you were a little guy.)
You’ll be a gentleman. Yes, this makes me sound like a 99-year-old lady, but I deeply hope you’ll learn the art of a great compliment, how surprised a girl will be when you open a door for her and the deep respect women deserve. When you see me developing a new project for work or planting our summer garden, whipping up a tasty breakfast for everyone or carting the whole crew to school and back, I want you to know it’s hard work to be your mom. You’ll see that my job here requires a lot of cooperation but also how even a pinch of gratitude goes a long way.
Your feelings will be less of a mystery to you. Jane Fonda recently said it best. She’s worried about boys growing up in America today. She said their hearts become disconnected from their heads, that it’s not safe for them otherwise, and this is what’s leading to all the wrong stuff: drinking, drugs, bullying and even violence. That’s not for you. Your sisters will see to it that we all talk about how we feel, what we want to do about it and how to grow from each experience. This will happen more often than you’d like, so brace yourself now. And also know that if they don’t take it quite that far, you can be sure I will.
Cooking won’t be a foreign concept. No one growing up in this house will leave without a dozen dishes he or she can whip up with confidence. This doesn’t mean you have to become a chef or even a stay-at-home dad. You just need to know how to take care of yourself, to be a blessing to friends, roommates and a potential partner of your own someday. (Trust me, I would’ve married your dad even sooner if he had a few tasty recipes in his repertoire.)
You’ll know how to treat girls. With humor but not at their expense, with kindness without being condescending, with affection without being pushy, with the ease that only someone who grew up around women has.
But above all, you’ll be a man. Like your dad, I hope you will know how to find work you love, something you were born to do, and be successful with it. If you inherit his wanderlust, you’ll go on adventures but always feel content to come home, knowing that you were also born to love, to connect, to be part of something bigger than yourself.
That’s what I hope all these years with these girls will teach you–that you are strong, that you are unique, that you are loved.
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