On Having Two Boys

Toby and Anton

This Sunday, the boys and I were on a little walk, minding our own business, when we turned a corner and bumped into… THE REAL SANTA!!!! There he was, hanging out on a brownstone stoop in Carroll Gardens, with a long white beard and pockets full of candy canes.

The boys couldn’t stop staring shyly, and when Santa pulled them up to sit on his lap, they mustered up the courage to ask a few questions. “Do you like cookies?” (Oatmeal.) “Where is your sleigh?” (On the roof.) “Do you remember the boy with the bell?!” (Yes.)

Back at home, we told Alex all about meeting Santa. Alex asked if Santa was nice, and Anton looked at him with wide eyes: “Santa is not rude!”

Toby and Anton

Toby and Anton

These days, Toby and Anton are really coming into their own, and hanging out with them feels like chilling with two hilarious and slightly unpredictable sidekicks.

They are the great joys of my life. Even their smells are delicious (Toby = a little sweet, like sweat and honey; Anton = warm and somehow dusty, like he just climbed off a horse). One of my favorite things in the world is cuddling up with them at night, putting them to bed and hearing their little voices ask for one more glass of water.

Toby and Anton

Toby and Anton

And the boys are so different, yin and yang. Toby is an outgoing song-and-dance man, who loves chatting with passersby. He remembers everyone’s name, and when I’m blanking on a mom’s name at school, he’ll quickly whisper it to me, like Andy in The Devil Wears Prada. Anton, meanwhile, is shy and gentle, with a mischievous look in his eyes. He can climb up into his own high chair and basically pole-vaults out of his crib. He loves animals and reading, and he talks so much at home, we laugh that he’s like Stewie from Family Guy.

During a recent battle over a toy, Toby turned to Anton, furious, and snapped, “I’m not going to be your brother! Just your friend!” Since then, I keep laughing about how sweet that was, because a) a friend is still a really nice thing to be, and b) it shows how important he thinks brothers are. To be demoted from a brother to a friend would be a terrible thing.

Toby and Anton

The funny thing is, I used to worry that I’d need a daughter in order to have the kind of relationship I had with my mom — a you-can-tell-me-anything closeness, which I cherish so much. But the other day, I realized with a start: I have that with these boys.

I cannot wait to soak up these little lunatics over the holidays. xoxo

(Bottom photo by Nicki Sebastian)

  1. Sarah says...

    This photo of you and the boys is just about the cutest thing ever. <3

  2. I just started to look at your blog! I love it! I’m venturing into the world of blogging and I to have a little boy! I love reading post from other ‘boy moms’! I hope you will check out my blog and share any advice! :)


  3. Hayden says...

    I’m late in the game with reading this blog post, but I love it! I have two insanely fun and crazy boys (3 and 1.5 yr old). I proudly wear my “boy mom” badge and feel so fortunate I have these little guys in my life. Thank you for a fun post to which I can relate well!

  4. Brittney Drake says...

    I loved this post! I also have two boys and used to worry about not having a daughter to be really close with… but as Holden and Noah get older I realize I have that already. They are too fun, and I feel so blessed to be their mommy.

  5. I love how you describe their personalities. I have two boys too… and I’m about to have two more (twins, surprise!). People think that I somehow want a girl. We would of course have been happy to have a girl, but there’s nothing missing in my life because of my boys. At the end of the day – they’re just little PEOPLE, regardless of gender. And so much fun.

  6. That bottom photo is SO CUTE!!

  7. just before xmas I found out i am expecting a second boy in June. And to be completely honest I cried immediately after. While I actually ‘preferred’ a boy, deep down somehow I felt I was mourning the relationship I would now never have with a daughter. Peoples comments made things worse those first few days. ‘Never mind’ and ‘better luck next time’ and ‘oh no’ were reactions from both men and women, friends and family. It really hurt. But you know what? Now I tell people I would kill to have another BOY. I feel privileged and proud to be the mother of boys and I cannot wait for this little man to join our family. Your post came at the perfect time so thank you thank you thank you for lifting me up. You rock as a mother of boys and even though i don’t known you I look up to you. Be well.

  8. Desiree says...

    Thanks for this. I was upset when I found out this pregnancy would be a second boy. I wanted a little girl so badly. I’m still holding out hope for someday, but in the meantime, doing what I can do get psyched of the arrival of this little guy in the Spring.

  9. Jeannie says...

    I think Toby looks like Alexander from Fanny and Alexander! Both of your boys are adorable!

  10. Tonya H. says...

    Beautiful post, thank you for sharing. As a mom of a boy and thinking about number two you made realize how precious another boy could be.

    Also where can I find the snuggle toddler tee?!?! Your little one looks so adorable in it.

  11. After looking at the photos of the boys, I realized that I should have had many more children and would not mind having one more now. Impossible unless I adopted but it is a shame that a woman has a “sell by” date when it comes to having babies. The older we are, the better we might be at it .. compared to being young and clueless and terrified you will drop it and break it lol
    That was me of course, I was one of those super young moms, my second baby was born when I was 23.. we grew up together, that little boy and I :)
    Meanwhile, I am loving seeing those lovely boys of yours .. Happy New Year !

  12. It suddenly made me realise having boys (only) isn’t all that bad <3

  13. Gabriella says...

    What an absolutely precious post. Loved every word of it.

  14. Angie says...

    Sometimes I’m unsure if I want kids (or if I’m cut out for it, really?) but then I read things like this and realize I definitely want them.

    • I have found that some of the most unlikely people turned out to be perfectly fabulous parents ..

  15. Perry N says...

    I have a girl and two boys and I really notice an anti-boy bias in society. And my family. My children are people, not genders, but my two boys are very often prejudged as troublesome or cheeky. My girl seems to be universally liked and approved of no matter how she behaves. All three are equally lovely , so It breaks my heart.

    • Really ? oh how awful ! I had a girl first and everyone would say things like, oh well, try for a boy next time. It seemed expected to produce a boy.
      I wanted one of each so I got that wish but I think you are so completely right in being offended . sometimes people just need to not speak .. :)

  16. margesse says...

    I realize this post is a few days out from today (12/28), but I have to say- I have 2 boys. I love them more than everything, and lunatics sums it up just about right. My 6 year old is crazy; my two year old is somehow crazier! When my husband and I got married 10 years ago, I justified the crazy expense of my dress and then the cleaning/archiving of the dress by saying, “But someday our DAUGHTER will wear it! It will be a family heirloom!!!” And he reluctantly agreed. It cracks me up to no end that the dress sits under our bed, beautifully archived and ready to go, and we have 2 insane dudes completing our family and destroying our house and silently mocking me and that dress.

  17. Krystle says...

    Thank you for the wonderfully written post. I am a mom of two boys and I could relate to all of this!

  18. Ingrid says...

    I love this post.

  19. Amanda says...

    Boys are the best!! I have 3 and I wouldn’t want it any other way, its loud and messy and having a wee in the garden because theyre too busy to go inside

  20. Samantha says...

    This read is exactly what I needed. I have a 21 month old boy and another boy on the way due in May. Everyone is so wrapped up in gender. It drives me nuts!!!! Everyone keeps asking are you going to try a third time for a girl. My second hasn’t even been born! What is wrong with just having two
    Boys? I am completely happy with two boys. I am very grateful for my healthy boys. I couldn’t have asked for anything else.

  21. Katie says...

    Thank you for sharing this! I am just a couple short weeks away from learning the gender of our first baby. I am one of three girls and I have the same worries that you did about missing out on a closeness of daughters if I’m the mother of only sons. Hearing your experience is comforting and is helping me to open my heart to the possibility of a little boy, if that is in fact what is growing inside me right now <3

  22. You are a wonderful writer, Joanna. Thanks for sharing and merry Christmas!

  23. I loved this! I also love Toby’s insult, “I am not going to be your brother! Just you’re friend!” That might be the cutest insult I have ever heard.

  24. PB in PDX says...

    What a wonderful post. Your love for your children shines through in all of the posts you write, and in this one especially. I agree with you and the many readers who wrote that your child’s gender does not have to determine the relationship you have with them. I always wanted a girl for the same reason you state: my mom and I are close and I really hoped to have a similar relationship with my own daughter. Then I gave birth to two boys (or so I thought) and was happy to have healthy kids and thrilled to be raising children who would grow up so close to one another. We’ve got our own stack of big brother/little brother photos from our early years that I think of when I see your beautiful pictures. Now, I have two young adult children, one boy and one girl (she came out and transitioned to female as a teenager). My son and I have always been talk-about-anything-and-everything close and my daughter is more reserved and we have heart-to-heart talks but less frequently. (Turns out that she is quite independent, like me!) So, even though I did get my wish of having a daughter, I had to realize that there are simply no promises or guarantees based on her gender. Our relationships have had to be based on my accepting them as unique individuals and letting go of expectations based on past relationships. We all have enormous love and respect for each other, and my children are still very close. None of us know any other set of siblings who treat one another with as much love and kindness as they do (except possibly yours!). Have a wonderful holiday!

    • Trish O says...

      Love your post. You are so wise. We owe it to our children to develop strong, full relationships with their unique self and not get hung-up with our own expectations based on past relationships. A Close, loving family that communicates well. That is what I want to foster in our lives.

    • Katie says...

      This is such a good reminder, thank you!

  25. ag says...

    Your boys are adorable! I always enjoy your stories about them.

  26. Laura says...

    I have a second little boy on the way in February. My first will be two next week…I feel such a camaraderie with other moms of two boys, whether in person or through blogs. So glad you shared this.

  27. I have two boys, but still want that girl. ha!

    my favorite thing about having two boys is that I have two boyfriends that love me SO much, and I am not even cheating!