I really enjoyed a recent post on the Mabelhood entitled “Real Men Can Handle Unicorn-Related Crises.” In it, the author shares her appreciation for her husband and the active role he plays in parenting their three little girls. She describes how he plays with unicorn stuffies and kisses boo-boos, but adds that it’s really so much more than that:
“He is showing them, in his quiet way, that men should be sensitive. Reliable. Kind. He’s teaching them about healthy relationships. And they are learning how multi-layered a man can be. He is doing what Dads do.”
No question, it is endearing to see dads embracing something their daughters love. In this recent clip from The Late Late Show, host James Corden (a father of two) and NBA basketball star Steph Curry (who has two young daughters) belt out songs from Moana and Frozen in a must-see edition of Carpool Karaoke. There are no kids in the car, the dads know all the words, and they absolutely own it. It’s fantastic.
All parent-child relationships are special in their own way, but as a mom of two boys, I thought it might be equally fun to pull back the curtain a little bit on mother-and-son relationships. My older son is 10, and he talks about sports nonstop. One day, as I was doing something in the kitchen, he asked: “Mom, can I give you a Super Bowl quiz?”
“Sure,” I responded as I rummaged around in a cupboard.
“How about we start with Super Bowl One and go up from there?” (Side note: this year was Super Bowl 51, so this is not an exam you can cram for at the last minute.)
“Okay,” I answered, head in the fridge, trying to determine if my last carton of eggs had expired.
“Who was the MVP of the first Super Bowl?”
Before my brain could even process the question or initiate any kind of data-retrieval sequence, I lifted my head above the fridge door and heard my mouth say: “Bart Starr.”
Surprising even myself, I continued: “Wasn’t he also the MVP of the next Super Bowl?”
I didn’t ace the entire quiz that day, but I certainly held my own. Old-time football trivia aside, I do have a pretty solid knowledge of sports. I married a sports fan and gave birth to two more. I have been to NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, NCAA and MLS games. I worked for two years at Hockey Night in Canada. I have toured stadiums, watched pre-season training camps and attended a Hall of Fame induction ceremony. In my view, real men can handle unicorn-related crises, and real women can fill out a March Madness bracket.
Moms of boys do all kinds of cool things. I play recreational hockey with a mom who has five kids in minor hockey. This year, she decided it was time for her to be part of the action, rather than a just a smiling face in the stands. She bought herself a bag of equipment and joined a women’s league. One of the baseball moms from my son’s team can hit the ball farther than any of the dads. A family friend spends summer vacations with her son at NASCAR races and car museums. My neighbour dresses up in full costume every year (sometimes Star Wars, sometimes Lord of the Rings) to attend Comic-Con with her son.
Here’s the secret truth: we love it all.
We’re not just going along with it for the sake of our sons. It’s a thrill for us. We get to do stuff that might not otherwise be viewed as socially acceptable. Growing up, we used to admire our brothers’ toys from afar – now we get to play with them. Sure, it might be a little unfamiliar or out of our comfort zone, but it’s liberating. And it confirms what we’ve always suspected: there’s no such thing as “just for boys” or “just for girls.” Whether it’s princesses or construction machines, if our kids are into it, we’re into it, one hundred percent. I think that’s true of all parents.
I hope I am showing my sons, in my own way, that women are smart. Athletic. Strong. I hope I’m teaching them that everyone deserves respect, and anyone can do anything. Dads can sing Disney songs. Moms can score goals. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.