Our first parenting challenge

Raising a boy in the era of angry men

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It was never my intention to do a gender reveal. I knew Cookie’s gender since the 16th week. We just kept it quiet and if someone close to us asked we told them: it’s a boy. Having a baby was enough of a blessing for me. Gender wasn’t something I thought was relevant to make a fuss about. It's such a secondary thing. He’s a tiny human, very loved, so wanted and expected, and for that I'm thankful.

Since wanting to become a mom I thought God would send me a girl because well, I’m a girl. My family is mostly women, and it was what I always thought it would happen. I wasn’t disappointed, just shocked when the technician told us: Congrats you're having a boy!

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The reality is that growing up Venezuelan, there's no such thing as patriarchy, but it is a chauvinist place. Women are inclined to let their sons do nothing. They don’t help at home and girls are often told that they can't wear short dresses because you don't want to be "that girl." We are also trained to find a good husband and do so quickly (I got married late at 23 and waited almost 10 years to have children). Venezuela is a place filled with women who are breadwinners but, it does feel a bit the 1940's; there are complaints about men but the charming prince idea lives on forever. Women are expected to behave in a certain way to find a suitable husband.

The day of the sonogram when we were told Cookie's gender, I saw how J’s face lighted up and how happy he was. Sadly for me, some fiber of me sighed in relief, a boy would have an easier life, considering that he’s already the child of immigrants, first gen American. Jorge with his uncanny ability to read my mind told me: I’m happy that he’s a boy because life for him is potentially more manageable, I’ve seen what you have to go through just because you’re a woman. That made me sad because it's true.

But, this also represents a challenge: I have to raise a tiny human, a kind, sweet, feminist boy, like his dad. A strong-willed child who would speak up for others like me. God granted me the opportunity of raising a good man, a kind human.  

My dream for Cookie is that he'll be someone who understands that feminism doesn't mean feminine. It means equality. The phrases “like a man” and “like a girl” hold no real meaning. Cookie's gender doesn't define him, nor his hair or if he likes pink and princesses. He's going to be kind and brave and will treat everyone with respect. That's the standard of our home. He'll understand that no means no, that's okay to cry and feel things. And he won't be afraid of celebrating people differences.  

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We will do our best, with all the love we share and Lola will have a little brother to play with.

Love,

Bela.

Photography by Christine Hanks

Styling by me

We are all wearing J.Crew!