(You knew with 4 boys a penis post was inevitable, right?)
My boys have taught me that Freud was wrong. It’s not penis envy, it’s penis pity. My boys each realize around 2 1/2, when they are obsessed with their anatomy and handling it a lot during potty training, that Mommy is missing something. And that seriously concerns them.
When I stepped out of the shower one morning with toddler Stephen, he looked at me in shock and asked, “Where you penis, Mommy?”
“Mommys don’t have penises. Only boys have a penis.” I said.
He looked distressed and protectively put his hand down his pants.
Strange, I thought.
Until I had a second boy.
Who, as a toddler, one day after showering, commented, “Mommy, you lost your penis!” And looked concerned.
“No, sweetie. Mommy doesn’t have a penis. Mommy is a girl.”
Anticipating this revelation with the twins, especially since they only have the example of older brothers, I decided to teach them anatomy early. I thought I could ease the shock.
So one evening during bath time, Will was running through the penis litany.
“I have a penis!”
“Yes, you do.”
“Reid has a penis! Stephen has a penis! Adrian has a penis! Daddy has a penis! Mommy has a penis!”
“No, honey. Mommy doesn’t have a penis. Only boys have penises. Mommy is a girl. Girls have something else, called a vagina.”
He looked at me strangely. “A gina?” He asked.
“Yes, girls have a vagina,” I explained, glad to cover this territory while he was naked instead of me.
He frowned, thinking. Then his face lit up. “Ooooh!” He said with a smile, turning to Reid. “Mommy gina-giant! Reid, Mommy is a giant!”
He patted me on the arm and returned to happily splashing. Ok, maybe he didn’t entirely understand the concept.
And now, after swimming or after a shower, Reid and Will stare and stare. “Where’s your penis? What you got? What’s that?” They ask, concern on their faces, their hands down their pants. Reid looks especially distressed and sometimes needs a comforting hug.
Yesterday when I was getting dressed, Will pointed and laughed, “Look at your funny butt, Mom!”
I sighed in exasperation. “Vagina! Mommy has a vagina! Only boys have penises! And that’s ok! Mommy is fine!”
Reid and Will giggled and ran away. Poor Mommy, so lacking.