08/06/2014 02:54 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2014

5 Lessons I've Learned Raising a Boy

Mommy Nearest

I am the mother of one high-energy, animated, car-obsessed 5-year-old boy. While he is the center of my universe, he has, at times, left me wanting to pull my hair out.

My motherhood truth is this: The moment I found out that I was pregnant, I instantly knew that I wanted a little girl. I'm now able to recognize this came from fear of raising a boy. I'm pretty much the girliest girl you'll ever meet, and I worried that I wouldn't be able to connect with a son. During my pregnancy, I would look down at my growing belly and wonder, Will I be able to relate to a boy? What will I have in common with him? I don't know anything about boy stuff!

The thing is, the universe works in mysterious ways -- and I have learned so many things from having my little man brought into my life. Here are five overall lessons:

1. It's OK to be silly.

I tend to be a little bit on the rigid side, having trouble totally relaxing unless I have a glass of wine in my hands. Branden has taught me to close the computer, toss the phone aside and just be silly sometimes. It's great for little boys and great for the soul.

2. You can have just as much of an emotional connection with a boy as a girl.

Our mornings are always filled with cuddles and kisses. Even though the middle parts of our days typically include an argument or two, they almost always end with a story time session and more hugs. He needs that, and wants the emotional connection just as much as a little girl would.

3. It's just as much fun dressing a boy as a girl.

I promise you, dressing little boys like miniature men is just as exciting as putting a little girl in leggings and a tutu. I would often say "awww" as I picked out his clothes when he was just a wee little thing. I still, to this day, have that same reaction -- whether I'm dressing him in skinny jeans and neon high tops, or his school uniform.

4. Toughening up is a good thing.

I was soft before motherhood, I'll admit it. But raising a boy has put me in my place. I now have a thicker skin thanks to some of the hurtful things he has sad to me when he's mad. In my past life as a non-mom, I would probably have gotten upset and taken the comments to heart. But now, I'm able to see it for what it's worth -- a little boy who's expressing himself verbally through "finding his words." This lesson has also extended into other areas of my life and helped me learn to not take crap from other people. It's too bad that I had to wait until motherhood to figure this one out!

5. Always speak my mind, because I know that he will.

It amazes me how he will candidly observe the world around him. He silently watches, but if something isn't right, watch out! As for me, I've learned to speak my mind without holding back -- because he would. Yes, sometimes there will be consequences, and I must pick my battles the way that he may not, but I have found my voice through him.

Allison Cooper is the Founder & CEO at Project Motherhood, which is a resource for moms learning to accept their post-pregnancy body and always rock their #MamaStyle! She also provides Styling Services for those in need of a little fashion assistance!

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