I’ve hesitated writing this, but it’s something that keeps coming up as a common “fear” and I wanted to kind of talk about it. Probably once a day, someone sends me a message to say how glad they are to follow me because they just found out that they’re pregnant with a boy and feel disappointed and, more often than not, scared of the unknown. It’s also not uncommon to scroll through TikTok and see someone mention how they “feel bad” for moms who do gender reveals for baby boys. I’m in Facebook groups where moms-to-be share how sad they are that they won’t see their children when they’re adults because they’ll be the “dad’s side.”

I think there’s a lot to say about gender and what that means and doesn’t mean, but I hope you can forgive me for not touching on that in this particular post. Important conversations, but a different one than the one I want to touch on. And I also want to put the disclaimer here that this is all just my personal take. As always, I’m not an expert on really anything, I’m just sharing my personal thoughts here to the best of my ability.

Very early on in my first pregnancy, I had a gut feeling I was having a boy. I really panicked because it had never crossed my mind that I might have a boy. I walked through life as a girl and I have a sister. It felt natural that I, too, would have daughters. My mom is one of four girls and my dad’s two siblings are girls too. I also thought I would have an identical pregnancy/delivery as my mom– an emergency C-section for a 10-pound+ baby Carly– and it wasn’t until I was in the hospital about to deliver vaginally that, no, I’m experiencing my own experience. I digress, but the point here is that one of the biggest hurdles of motherhood, truly, is having to let go of expectations and control, and (!!!) dreams.

It’s the ultimate form of gambling. You don’t know what cards you’ll be dealt, how the game will unfold, and what the end result will be. You may even think it’s going to go one way and get handed a curveball that changes midway through the game.

A few things are probably a guarantee though, including the fact that every child is going to be their own person, no matter what. Identical twins raised by the same family at the same time sharing the same DNA are not the same person. To get gender normative, you could have a football loving boy and a tea party loving girl… or a boy who wants to sign up for dance class and a girl who doesn’t want to wear dresses. I believe the responsibility of the parent is to let your kid be themselves, even if it looks different than what you expected.

This was something I struggled to conceptualize until I became a parent myself. Well, I think it really started to become clearer to me as we entered toddlerhood when my son’s personality started cracking through the baby bubble. Previously my vision (and dream) of motherhood had been to have a mini-me who I could share all the things I loved about childhood with. The books, toys, and past times I loved. (Note, this was a very “me” centric way of thinking.) Then you have this little human creature who has their own set of interests and, well, that is the true joy. It sounds so trite and maybe it sounds like I’m just speaking in platitudes, but I really, truly mean it. Motherhood looks completely different than what I pictured– tea parties, coloring books, dolls, and hair bows– the motherhood reality I am in is is a more complete, fulfilling one.

I grew up being dragged to my sister’s softball and soccer tournaments and hated every second of it. I would not have believed you if you told me how much I would enjoy watching my child try to hit a squash ball with a racquet for 45 minutes straight or that I would get excited any time we walked by a garbage truck, school bus, or lawnmower. The magic in watching my child focus on something that so clearly excites him is beyond comprehension. It’s not the squash ball, it’s not the trucks. It’s quite simply his happiness that is the happiness.

My childhood experience was as a girl and my perspective on life is a woman. I take immense responsibility in raising a boy. It’s important to better understand the challenges a boy might face. I wouldn’t know everything about raising a girl, either, but I would at least be coming in with a little bit of background. I feel like I went into raising a boy with a clean slate, which in a way, is actually quite the gift. It’s not something I overly obsess over, as I wouldn’t consider that particularly helpful or healthy even, but it is something that’s in the back of my mind. I want to learn more and educate myself so I can be better equipped to raise my sons.

I recently read To Raise A Boy and it’s a book I’ll likely revisit every few years. It opened my eyes to issues boys face that I never would have even considered a possibility. It did make me worried in a way that I wasn’t before. However, I feel like having the knowledge is an important first step in being there for my children. (I also believe this is a book every one should read even if you’re not specifically raising a boy.) I will continue to learn and research– if you have any book/podcast/article recommendations, I’d love them. I am sure I will make mistakes and take missteps, as any parent would. I do feel determined to do my best though.

This post has been edited slightly after some personal reflection– thank you!

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Dropping in to say that I loved this entry. I don’t have kids yet, but reading refreshing takes on motherhood is so helpful to me.

Sidenote – thank you for sharing your honest thoughts with your readers on this blog. 🙂 I read every day, and these kind of posts make the internet feel cozy and human.


About to have my first any day now and it’s a boy! People like you, Ashley Brooke, and others that are raising toddler boys have been such comforting follows as I prepare for this next chapter. Love your perspective on this topic!


Thank you for this thoughtful post! I’m pregnant with my first – a boy – and feel so much of what you described. If you receive any other good book/podcast recs I’d love for you to share!


As a boy mom, it’s so sad to hear that people feel this way. No one loves their mom more than a boy does. I think it’s why as women, we push back against the mother in laws, when in reality we should love men who love their moms even more. I pray someday that my son finds a woman who treats him well, and that he recognizes that his relationship with all women in his life (mom included) are all important. Plus, little boys are so fun and sweet and way more sensitive than anyone gives them credit for. Being a good boy mom is the greatest gift.


Would you mind expanding upon “I do think being a man or a boy is more of a challenge”? My experience in this world proves to be different (female in many male dominated industries – engineering, golf, tech, etc.). I genuinely am curious to hear what your fears are with raising a boy.


More than I can fit into a blog post (or comment), but highly recommend reading the book I shared in the post. It opened my eyes to a myriad of issues boys face (sexual assault, social pressure, school systems/structures, etc). I think as a woman/girl, it’s hard to recognize when we also face our own set of issues! But when you start talking to men, and raising boys!, their own problems and challenges emerge.


Also just to add (clarify) that boys and girls BOTH have unique, and sometimes shared, sets of challenges. It’s not an either/or, but I do think there’s an overarching thought that boys/men don’t suffer as much as women, so their problems don’t “count,” which is, in my opinion, part of the problem. (And part of what concerns me and something I’m highly aware of with a boy!)


I will definitely be checking this book out! I by no means discount experiences of boys and men and the struggles they go through. But, I do disagree with the idea that boys/men don’t suffer as much as women. Society has created a world where the white man is put at its center, so there’s a ton of work left to do to give a voice, opportunity, and support to women. Issues women face are now just finally getting surfaced (reproductive rights, maternity leave, child care, wage inequality – the list goes on). My family has always raised boys to grow up with a feminist viewpoint so that we can progress by raising the voices equally of both boys and girls. Commented because I appreciate hearing the perspectives from all people about their struggles and challenges in the world. But, I hope that men continue to realize the privilege the past hundreds of years has given them to be born into a higher status in society and continue to help women earn that same spot.


I think in some ways we are all saying the same thing. Just as the patriarchy shapes women’s lives it also presents a very singular view of how men should be. If my daughter loves science and trucks, it is awesome that society is changing and will now applaud this (“you go girl” etc.) But if my son wants to wear pink dresses, grow long hair, or play with dolls even the most progressive people will raise an eye or tell him that’s not for boys. Personally I am also more daunted by raising boys than girls. Thank you Carly for being a boy mom role model!!


Amen! It’s not the case that because girls/women face more challenges that those faced by boys/men shouldn’t or dont count – but we don’t have to pretend that male privilege doesn’t exist to want to address challenges boys/men are facing. One part (of many) of raising boys IMO is to also teach them how to challenge these imbalances of power.

And as for the poster who said boys are told they cant do thing things that are “for girls” – thats exactly an example of how far we still have to go in gender equality – the whole 80s feminism was all about girls being able to do things that were traditionally male dominated exactly because they are seen as higher value/higher status. Its a good step but true equality is when we see things that are traditionally girl/women coded as equal in value.

In fact we see the opposite – fields become lower status and lower pay when they move from being male to female dominated. Why pretend this isn’t the case? It comes back to the overarching point -if we valued things that are traditionally seen as feminine more and taught boys it was ok to have feelings, seek support in friends, etc etc we would be helping them with their challenges.


As a woman, I thought I would feel the same way. But now, as a mom of a boy (a white boy), I worry that the world is shifting in such a way that if you’re a white male you’re in some ways at a disadvantage. Employers give preference to women and minorities (and I understand why, but it could go too far if white men don’t end up with opportunities in the future). If a woman accuses a man of sexual assault, it’s a “guilty until proven innocent” situation, which is wrong in my opinion. We, as women, assume white men have it easy – and maybe historically they did, but I think 20 years from now, the white man is going to be challenged quite a bit and I worry for my son.


So appreciate your honesty and letting us see what you are thinking and living. As an older mother of two boys I relate.

I agree will make mistakes and appreciate you are trying to do your best. That is all anyone could ever ask. Keep up the great work! Jack and your new baby are lucky to have such a loving, caring Mom.


Thank you so much for this post. Don’t have kids of my own yet, but this is something my husband & I talk about a lot.

I grew up with twin younger brothers and I have a very close relationship with my dad. I have always felt more comfortable around men vs. women in general (unless I’m close with the girl/woman).

I actually worry more about having a daughter than a son. I got a lot of pressure from my mom growing up to be a good student, always do the right thing, and to “get my shit together”, which has led to self-esteem and anxiety issues in adulthood. I worry that I’ll unintentionally push those same messages onto my daughter… which means I’ll probably end up with a daughter(s) to make sure I don’t carry on those expectations!

On the flip side, my husband is extremely close with his mom and older sister, but has a trickier relationship with his dad. Best case scenario, we get one of each!

Please keep writing about motherhood stuff. I’m pinning all of your blog posts to revisit when I become a mom.

P.S. Boys are great. It’s just a bit more chaotic and messy.


I had those same thoughts/fears if I had/have daughters in the future! Parenting is just constantly worrying about something I think 😅


Absolutely loved this post, Carly. I have a 10 month old boy and have so appreciated your experience as a mom who is a little “ahead” of me.

I had a similar experience to you both in what my assumptions of motherhood AND pregnancy would be (definitely thought I would have a similar pregnancy to my mom, too… not so much). My son is only beginning to break through the “baby bubble” but it’s SO fun to watch his personality shine through. He’s very into tractors and trucks. We live in a rural area and saw a tractor go by this morning, and I’m not sure which one of us was more excited, ha! Anyway, thanks for sharing!


Sometimes when I’m driving by myself and see a school bus I yell “school bus!” Only to remember Jack is NOT in the car with me 😂


Love this post! It reinforces why I trust your baby product recommendations. You care so much about your boys.

I stressed so much as a kid that the hope for my daughter is to not be that. Truly going to work hard to find what her joys are! I admire that you just want Jack to be happy and letting go of expectations you may have had. So excited for Jack to have his baby brother!

Emily Raleigh

This post is everything I needed to read and more! Thank you for your willingness to share your experiences through the many chapters of motherhood, Carly. I grew up around all girls and definitely was surprised when I found out I was having a boy but seeing all of your motherhood and Jack content has been so uplifting these past few years. Thank you for sharing this!!


This has put so many of my own thoughts down in writing. As a mom of a boy (who married into a family of all boys), I was so nervous to have a boy.

We didn’t find out what we were having (and we haven’t found out with our second who is due in a month) but my outlook on having a little boy has changed so much in 2 years. I love learning about what he loves, and watching him learn and grow and figure out what he wants.

Raising Boys is next in my TBR pile and I’m looking forward to reading it!


Thank you for writing this. This is something that has been on my mind as I await the arrival of my first baby (and boy!). As a woman myself and a sister, I was ecstatic to learn I was having a boy but know that is comes with its own challenges and learnings. Your blog and Instagram has really helped fuel my excitement at welcoming a boy – so thank you!


I love this post! I have two boys and adore them. I think you hit the nail on the head about how a lot of people think – they want a mini me and the reality is that regardless of gender every kid is their own personality and it’s so fun to see who and what they become.


Gosh I love this post! I know they take so much time and vulnerability to post but as a mom to a 2 year old boy and another boy due in 7 weeks, I can’t thank you enough for touching on the magic and trials of being a young boy mom in today’s world ❤️


I have grown children now (boy and girl). All I will say is that I raised them to be kind, respectful, independent and accepting. They are all those things and more. They are going to be who they are going to be. I learned something recently I wish I had in my toolbox while they were growing up: all parents want their kids to grow up and be “happy”. It’s better to have them grow up and be who they were “meant to be.” I loved that.


You might enjoy Scott Galloway’s podcasts as he talks about this issue a lot and often brings up the idea that young men are severely lacking strong role models. Also the book Of Boys and Men.
I’m a school counselor and I’d say teen girls are majorly suffering with mental health right now. But it’s hard to say because my male students may not confide in me the same way as I am a woman.


Longtime follower, first time commenter. Thank you for this post! I have a very energetic and sweet toddler boy, and it’s been a true joy seeing the world through his eyes. One book I could not recommend enough is ‘Raising Emotionally Strong Boys,’ by David Thomas. My husband and I listened to it in the car on a long drive to Michigan (takes about 4 1/2 hours) and I was taking notes the entire time.

I hesitate to make this next comment because I know it’s natural for all of us to have expectations or preferences on the gender of our baby, but I really wish women could understand just what a miracle and a blessing a healthy pregnancy and child is, regardless of gender. As someone going through secondary infertility and past pregnancy loss, it baffles me that some women could complain or be unhappy when they aren’t having the gender they prefer. It really is a miracle and a privilege to be a mom to any child!


I get the “gender disappointment,” but you’re right that it’s a great privilege and that in the end it doesn’t matter 🤍

Anon Pls

I so agree. I just went through my first pregnancy loss and before we lost the baby I had so many expectations. I want it to be a girl, I don’t want to gain weight, I want her to be born by this day, I resent being nauseous etc. When we lost the baby I felt like how in the world did I complain for even just one second that I got to carry my baby. We only had nine weeks together and I wish I celebrated every second of it. I know this is a little off topic but I think it’s important to say. And when God gives us another pregnancy I will have such a different perspective now to just be so grateful for the miracle of motherhood. ❤️


Just a quick note to say this: thank you for posting daily (such a treat!), thank you for your thoughtfulness in your writing, and thank you for being a fun, interesting, aspirational-and-relatable follow for a fellow millennial raising a toddler boy! <3


A very loving and thoughtful post!
I’ve heard that Maggie Dent is a classic resource and I think she has a book called “raising boys.”
I have two daughters and one son. And loving them each in their own unique selves is a much better joy than I ever could have created myself 🙂


Thanks so much for this post and the thoughtfulness that went into it. A great book to read on how the patriarchy also damages boys and men is ‘What about Men’ by British feminist Caitlin Moran. It’s also very funny!


Spot on. There’s a lot to unpack around gender and parents’ expectations for their children. Children are similar to or different from their parents on a variety of aspects (e.g. physiology, personality, interests) and at the end of the day we need to accept and love our children no matter how similar or different they are from us. I heard a counselor osât recently on a podcast that she has to be a different mom to each of her children and that learning that has made her not only a better mom but a better person. My son is now a teenager and every day I still feel blessed to have such a cool housemate, whom we continue to get to know over the years.


So glad you addressed this! Just dropping in to share another powerful piece of content on the topic of raising boys – when I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I watched “The Mask You Live In” on PBS. It resonated deeply with us, and we’ve talked about it often over the years. Now that my son is almost 4 and navigating preschool relationships, we rewatched the documentary and it brought up totally new discussions for us re: how we want to raise our son.

Hilary Capon

I’m not a parent, but I really enjoyed reading this post and it gave me food for thought as someone who would probably also ‘mourn’ the loss of being a girl mum.

In terms of recommendations, there’s a very famous book from New Zealand, where I live, by a woman called Celia Lashlie called ‘He’ll be okay’. Celia is worth a look as she had a really interesting work history in prisons working with young men and her insights garnered quite a lot of respect.


Long time listener, first time caller. Loved this post as a FTM of a 6.5 month old who absolutely experienced gender disappointment when we found out we were having a boy. It’s so interesting to think back to that now be ages I cannot imagine our son as anyone else. I, too, think the challenges of raising boys are different, and no less important than those of raising girls. Highly recommend reading Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male is Struggling, Why it Mayters, and What to Do About It by Richard V. Reeves. His work is really impactful. If you’d like a sneak preview, he has done two really great podcast interviews about this book:
Ezra Klein:
Pantsuit Politics:

Adelaide Dupont

Read Caitlin Moran’s book


She has said a great deal of the things you have said and more.

Also for the Maggie Dent fan…

Maggie Hamilton has written WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR BOYS.

She writes about the boys in this simultaneously secular and spiritual way.

As you can see I like to read books which are titled with a question.

I also have listened to the Ezra Klein thoughts about Reeves and read Anne Helen Petersen’s perspective about that book.

Also you might enjoy TechnoSapiens – she is pregnant and birthing around October 2023.