Most of you know that I am Mom to four boys and not a single daughter. From time to time I am asked, "What's that like?" Well, I don't know! It's like being asked what it's like to have blue eyes or troublesome hair - it's all I have ever known! Probably in many ways, I am very well suited for the job God gave me. I grew up with only brothers (two younger) and had mostly male cousins. I have always had a strong stomach, so that helps, too!
Over the last few days, though, I have jotted down some thoughts on what my life is like, mothering a tribe of little men. I'll try to present them here in a hopefully understandable fashion.
Boys are out to "get" you. I could claim this started from the moment their little embryos started developing because I had horrible morning sickness with all 4 and then later on they were all quite rambunctious in the womb, flying, twisting, and rolling from one side to the other - usually when I was trying to sleep. But I have heard some stories of little girl babies being kind of mean to their expectant moms, too, so I don't think I can say that is just a male thing. But what is definately a male thing is that these little guys come equipped with a "squirter" that they let fire when you change their diapers. I can't tell you the number of times I have wiped urine out of my eyeballs! Later this progresses to biting and then when they are older it's putting a rubber snake or spider where you're sure to see it and shriek. Or it's turning on the hose and "accidentally" letting it get away so that it sprays you as you walk around the corner of the house. Just today Sam walked into the kitchen and threw a hard rubber ball at me, hitting me square in the back!
Having boys means living with constant - and I mean constant - noise! Even when they are sleeping, the boys are making noise. They can't do anything without having accompanying male noises. I've been deaf in one ear since infancy. A few years ago I had my other ear tested and found out that I am slowly losing hearing there, as well. Is this mere cooincidence? I think not!
Having boys means living on the edge of impending disaster at all times. Usually this just involves the boys themselves, but not always. I have never stepped on a Barbie shoe, ever, but I have plenty of permanent indentions in my feet from legos! With boys, something is always getting broken and this isn't limited to inanimate objects! I try to watch out and shoo them off roofs, but they get up there anyway. For awhile they thought it was great fun to spray down the trampoline with water and then jump. Paul put a stop to that one! But despite our interventions, accidents have happened. Ben almost had a room at our local ER named after him, he visited so many times. If you ever look at his chin you'll see it is white, not pink, because it has been stitched together so often. I lost count after six times. When Will was 6 he was climbing on some storage tubs in our basement, which wasn't a huge deal until he lost his balance. Unfortunately for him, he grabbed the unfinished sheetmetal from our new furnace ductwork and pushed a chunk of skin from his palm clear up to the base of his fingers. That took 14 stitches and some dermabonding to fix. David fell through a window propped against our porch railing when a kitten scratched him - that was several stitches in his arm. Ben has fractured his foot twice on the trampoline. One day when he was 7, he decided to play Superman and jumped off the top bunk. It was 5 days before we knew he had broken his shoulder. And we only discovered that when we took him in to have stitches out from an accident the previous week! It would be nice if this were the sum total of our accidents, but with another boy now and the others only half grown, I'm sure our list will be more than twice as long before it's all over!
Boys have a preoccupation with really disgusting things - like bugs. Oh, I hate those things! And they know it and, as a result, are quick to bring me specimins to inspect! They also gain an inordinate amount of pleasure from talking about body functions best left in private and making all kinds of corrosponding rude noises. Do you know they make a "fart" machine? You know a male thought of and designed that thing! And yes, my boys have one. And the sad thing is is that this delight in all things gross doesn't necessarily end with childhood!
In our house, having boys has meant having a houseful of sports enthusiasts, bordering on obsessed! The boys play softball in the spring, football in the fall, and if I didn't mind spending every waking moment in my van, they'd play basketball and soccer, too. They watch every major and minor televised sporting event. David knows all the NFL teams and can give you player stats and all kinds of what I would consider irrevelent information about each one.
As the boys get older having them around means having spider killers, battery installers, wood choppers, trash removers, lawn mowers, snow shovelers, and now, even a driver! Now, this is nice! When I had my kids, I never even thought about the reality of how much of a help they would be to me down the road. I can handle this part of having boys!
Having boys makes for some bittersweet moments as they grow. Each one of the older ones has come to a point where he began to pull away from me and gravitate towards his dad. More and more time was spent outdoors, following after Paul as he puttered around doing yard or vehicle work. The boys all seem more concerned with what Dad will think about things than what I do and now that Will is a teen it's not terribly uncommon to find him deep in conversation with his dad, talking about things that he hasn't with me. It's natural and it's what I want for them, but it kind of pricks the heart at the same time. But, at least I still have Sam, who is more baby than boy and I can cuddle him for a few more years - or not! Paul has been working on the house quite a bit in recent works and Sam has been right there behind him, picking up tools, pretending to "work" alongside his dad. He loves to climb the stepladder, waving a crowbar or a screwdriver with one hand. Actually, this could lead to our next ER trip!
Having boys is knowing that I have a huge responsibility because I am the only real female influence in their lives. They don't have any sisters to gain any bit of female knowledge about. I'm it! It's also knowing that after having held this role their entire lives, someday I'll have to step back and let a young wife take my place. Boy, will that be an exercise in humility and grace!
Having boys means I have the priviledge of watching them grow into men - seeing just who they are going to become. That's exciting to me! As it says in Luke 2:40, "And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him." Now my boys are a long way from being able to compare with the child Jesus, but like His mother, I rejoice to see those things beginning to show in my boys' lives.
Having boys means loving them so much I physically ache. It's laughing with (and sometimes at) them. It's soothing them with a smile when someone hurts them, but fuming on the inside. It's kissing their owies one day and being told, "Someday I'm going to marry you, Mommy!" to another day having them only want me to kiss them good bye if their friends aren't around to see. And then one day it's "See ya, Mom!" as they hop out of my van. And one day it will be waving good-bye as they drive out of the driveway for the last time. I'll be waving until their car is just a speck and then turning to face my empty house. It might be empty of the boys but the walls will forever ring with the echoes of who they were.