My 2-year-old son loves trucks, trains, cars and anything else with wheels. He loves playing in the dirt, stomping on leaves and chasing birds. He loves running, climbing and wrestling. He can be rough, aggressive and sometimes just plain mean. He is a boy, and I love everything about it.
My son also loves to push a stroller. He loves pretending to put his baby in the car and buckle her in. He loves to snuggle with his stuffed dog, "Woof Woof," and sing "Rock-A-Bye Baby" while swaying him back and forth in the baby swing. He loves giving me hugs and kisses and snuggling with me before bed. He is a boy, and I love everything about it.
When I watch my son play with trucks or chase birds, I am delighted by the boy he is, and during his moments of tenderness, I am delighted by the man he might become.
I know that a man can be rugged, strong and self-reliant, as well as kind, caring and gentle. As his mother, I know I am responsible for raising my son to be a good person. I also know that I cannot do it alone. I need my husband, my father and my brother to be examples of good men. I need the men my son encounters to be admirable. I need society to champion positive, healthy attitudes regarding men, and work to eliminate those that are destructive and dangerous.
I want my son to feel that his desire to be gentle and nurturing will be encouraged as much as our daughters are encouraged to be strong and independent. I hope he will be guided on a positive path toward adulthood that is paved by uplifting men and women. I wish that he will be raised in a world where feminine and masculine energies are celebrated.
There was a time when I hoped for only boys, because I was afraid of how hard the world is for women. I remember the struggles I went through, and worried that my daughter might face the same challenges. I read countless accounts of rape and sexual assault, and was afraid of subjecting a daughter to that world. I thought of the difficulties she might face in her career and the choices she might have to make. I thought that because men, especially white, economically privileged men, had a distinct advantage over women, that raising a boy would be easier. I realize now that for a boy or a girl, growing up is hard, and all children need love, support and guidance.
I hope that we will work to continue to make the world a safer and healthier place for women and girls. There is no question that improving the lives of women benefits us all. I just ask, as the mother of two sons I'm trying to raise into a good men, that we don't forget our boys.
A version of this story previously appeared on TheGoodMenProject.com and Maybeillshowertoday.com