OK so I grew up with sisters. And I went to a women's college. And most of my life I've worked in offices with more women than men (amazing, no?) So, when I was pregnant I was terrified at the idea of having boys. They were so strange -- so noisy -- I just had no idea what was coming. Except that what was coming was Josh. And then Dan. And it turned out that -- hang on sisters -- boys are a blast, great company, luuuhhhv their moms and --- boys are easier! I know this because I've watched my friends raising daughters and the tensions are fierce. Girls and their mothers -- boys and their dads. Not easy.
But let's get back to basics. Little boys run around a lot and make noise. They jump off things. They ride the dog around and fall off and hit their heads and need stitches. They, later, seem to be trying to kill each other much of the time. And before I go any further - let me tell you that there's an old shrink saying that therapists never believe that babies are born with personalities until they have their second child. This is also true with many women regarding gender differences - it hits you once they show up. My kids are feminists and very good to the women in their lives as far as I can tell - but they are men and they were boys and that is not like being a girl. Nope.
I have great memories from when they were little - stomping around singing Free to Be and Da Doo Ron Ron Ron and The Garden Song and Abiyoyo, skiing down black diamond slopes and going to Yankee Stadium to see Billy Joel and Carnegie Hall to see Pete Seeger and Madison Square Garden to see Sesame Street on Ice and being dragged to an infinite number of Police Academy and other disgusting movies.
And I lived in alien space much of the time. Some of our hit toys (ie things I would NEVER have had in my house if there were not these strange male creatures inhabiting the premises -- and pre-video game age of course):
One of those Radio Shack electronics build-your-own thingy kits that make bells ring and bulbs light up if you hook them up correctly.
Anything Star Wars
Anything GI Joe
Weird wrestling stuff (boy did I fight that one!)
Folk music (that's my fault though)
Baseball cards (and proudly, I did NOT throw them out)
There's serious stuff to having sons, of course. We have to be sure, no matter how much we love hanging around with them, that they get enough alone time with their dads or some other male figure. And wave bravely as they off together on a Sunday (also your day off after all) without you. We have to accept and celebrate the guy stuff.
Just like girls, but differently, we have to let them know we think they can take care of themselves - enable independence at each landmark, if we think they can handle it, even when we really want to help. It's so easy, with a boy, to want to remain more connected than is useful for them as they grow. At certain points they may pull back for a while, when they need to untangle. We have to let them and respect the struggle
With regard to respect for women - I am deeply impressed with my sons' perspectives. I hope that being honest and respecting their developing attitudes, helped. I never threw a Playboy out of our house but I made it very clear how I felt about them in the (brief) period they were around. Anything like that, of which I (or my husband) disapproved, had to come out of their allowance. They had to put their money on the line - and I think that helped more than locking it all out of the house and pretending they weren't interested. It also helped us understand where their heads were. Although that is easier for boys because they are, honestly, more straightforward.
Of course none of what I write here applies to all boys. Much of it may apply to plenty of girls. But it was my experience and in a kind of stream of consciousness baby shower kind of way it's what rose to the top. The bottom line though, is that even though it's scary if you've lived in a world of women, as I had, they are just wonderful. Most of all, because I know Julie, from reading your blog for so long, you would be a great mother to any child with whom you were blessed, this kid is in for a great life. And where advice is concerned, I say take it only as far as your gifted mother gut takes you. Where the two collide, trust yourself. Girl, boy or android, that way your little one will always be in the right hands.