Self-identified boymoms don’t think the term is particularly limiting, either for boys or the parents who raise them. “I think in a society that’s all about being genderless I think it’s a good thing because we do have gender, we are different,” Powers says. “Boys learn differently than girls and I’m okay with saying that. Yes, individually, all of our kids are different, but generally, I know that my son has way more energy right now than a little girl his age and he needs to get that out because he’s a boy.” 

But perceived gender differences in children are less biological than they are prescribed by widely held stereotypes. A 2005 study from psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde found that, for example, boys and girls perform the same in math up until high school, where boys might gain an advantage simply because girls are overlooked due to assumptions about how they’re less proficient in math. “There just simply aren’t cognitive differences or learning differences between boys and girls,” says Christia Spears Brown, professor and associate chair of developmental, social, and health psychology at University of Kentucky and author of the book Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes. “People have looked and they cannot find them.”

“It’s the same for [energy], boys are slightly more active as infants but it’s not a very big difference,” Brown says. “The problem is when you have a baby [and] you presume that they’re going to be really energetic and be focused on trucks and enjoy math, then parents really do, and I would say subconsciously, reinforce [that] from infancy.”

“I’m not saying because I’m a boymom that means my boys are into sports or this and that, my kids are very artistic, they write music and are interested in architecture,” Williams says. “I think you just embrace your children no matter who they are. You let your children figure out who they are.”

But because the term boymom ties a mother’s identity as a parent so heavily to the gender of their children, not only does boymom culture not take into account the fluidity of boys’ identities, but the potential fluidity of kids’ gender identities at all.

“When you say stuff like [boymom] we really are boxing ourselves in and we’re kind of boxing our kids in,” says Nicole Pecocaro, a mother who runs the blog Mom Transparenting. In January, Pecoraro wrote an article for the website Fairy Godboss titled “Moms Are Obsessed With Being a #Boymom, Here’s Why We Need to Stop,” detailing how parents need to understand that when it comes to their children’s gender, nothing goes as planned. After her son came out as trans, Pecoraro began to feel differently about all the heavily gendered language she encountered in mommy blogs or elsewhere, and that includes boymom. “What if your boy doesn’t fit the boy mold?” Pecoraro writes in her post to boymoms. “What if he likes his fingers painted or playing with dolls. What if he turns out to be (gasp!) transgender!” 

“[My son] is upset about old pictures and I can’t do anything about that because I can’t change the past,” Pecocaro says. “Had I had a huge focus on his gender from the beginning I think it [would have] made things a lot more stressful for him and he’s already stressed.”

“The language that you use can change people’s perspective and can have a bigger meaning over time,” she says.

Boymoms say the label is simple: it’s for mothers of boys, an unspoken subculture of women dealing with raising the opposite sex. While some might insist that the term’s definition of boyhood is open-ended, the shirts and blogs say differently, clearly connecting the boymom experience to stereotypical ideas of gender that run rampant in mommy blogging. Boys are either hyper-energetic destructive monsters running around the house, or an overly romanticized little prince. (“You will always be their queen. And he will always be your prince,” reads one blog.) And just as the boymom label meme-ifies boys personalities, it does with moms as well, who seem content to boil down these mothering experiences into shirts that read: “Dirt. Trucks. Superheroes. Dinosaurs. #boyblessed.” #Boyblessed, indeed.