Boymomdom? I know, it's not a word. Wish it was though. All I know is that the day our oldest son was placed in my arms I became a boymom, my entire life changed, my heart was quickly schooled on a whole different kind of love, and I haven't been the same since… in the best of ways. Over the next 6 years we added two more little men to our family, and I think it's safe to say that I'm somewhat of an (always-learning) expert on the mysteries of boy life.
If I had a dollar for every time someone said, "You need a little girl to balance that house out!" or "You don't know what you're missing by not having a little princess," I honestly want to scream. Thankfully I (usually) have enough tact to politely smile and assure that person that I'm perfectly happy with the 3 boys God blessed us with, and then go on with my day…. quietly seething.
Because when I look at these 3:
I melt into a very happy mom puddle, because for one thing, these three are awesome, and for another thing – God knew exactly what kind of kids I was best suited for and He knew what kind of mom these three would need.
I'm not missing out on anything.
It's safe to say that these boys have taught me way more about being a mom than any parenting book I've ever read… more than even my maternal instinct has whispered to me. I will forever be "in progress," but here are three things I've learned by being a boymom:
1. Helicopter moms aren't cool.
It's true – I am a recovering helicopter mom. I'm not proud of it, and have spent much of the past 16 years trying not to be the worrier type that I am. Whether it was to protect them from falling or defend them from bullies, I would jump in and and save the day, not doing them any favors because 1) sometimes they have to fall in order to learn what is safe and what is not, and 2) if I'm always fighting their battles, they lose self-confidence and the ability to defend themselves. And while there are times that advocating for our children becomes completely necessary, most of the time, if given the opportunity, these boys will amaze me with their ability to handle things by themselves, and always much better than I ever could have done.
Brian will helpfully make helicopter noises around me as a heads up when I've crossed over into ridiculous-overprotective-mommy territory, and I have learned to appreciate it. Sometimes I really don't know I'm doing it, but most of the time the fact that I'm a girl who only has sisters keeps me from knowing what is truly dangerous and what is simply normal boy behavior.
I've come a long way. For instance, when this photo was sent to me last summer:
I didn't completely freak out, but did ask if he made the catch. He did.
All that to say… boys need to be boys. They need to do things that seem reckless and crazy, and to me, dangerous. It's a chance to prove their manhood, it builds confidence and independence, and it's fun. So my prayer life has increased, and I continue to ask God for wisdom when it comes to boundaries, what's safe, and what is just too crazy.
2. They really do want to talk about stuff.
Yes, they do. One thing I was determined would be standard in our family is that we were going to talk about things. Good things. Hard things. Awkward things. Basically, they were going to grow up knowing that Brian and I are a safe place for them, no matter what. And while there have at times been uncomfortable conversations, the relief on their faces as they confide in us has proven that this is critical. We just don't want them getting wrong information from the wrong people.
When our oldest was 3, he talked nonstop. Seriously… he never stopped. I really have no memory of when he started talking, so I'm fairly certain it was while still in the womb. According to him, there were just too many things TO talk about, so why would anyone ever want to be quiet? Bless him. Now that he's older, it's not quite the same… still chatty, but not as much about the big important things.
Our middle guy? Much quieter… partly because he can barely get a word in (see paragraph above), but mostly because he just is a quieter kid. He takes everything in and processes it first. He doesn't miss anything. And our youngest falls somewhere in between. Just when I think I've got one kid figured out…
Even with all three of them being pretty different when it comes to communication, I've learned a couple things that seem to work for all. The best talks happen in the car. They're kind of trapped, which helps, but seriously… when I'm quiet (very important) and just let them talk, the magic happens. The other way? Spark conversations while they're doing another activity (playing video games, swinging a bat, playing catch, fishing… you get it). The distraction of the activity keeps things low key, and when I listen without reacting or giving my opinion when they haven't asked, again… magic.
3. They need to see me living out my faith.
Life throws curve balls. Things aren't always rainbows and puppies, and as much as I want to protect the boys from the hard stuff, I can't. The last thing I want them to think is that we can handle things on our own. I want them to know that we serve a great God who can handle all of it for us, but if I don't show them what that looks like, how can I expect them to do the same?
When they were little I kept it simple: if it was raining, I'd point out how God brings the rain to water the flowers and the trees and to give the birds a bath, and then we'd tell Him thank you for the rain. The same applied to the sunshine, our food, our house, each other, etc. Now that they're older, we've moved on to add deeper things. It's easy to follow and praise God when life is good, right? But what about when it isn't? Brian and I learned quickly that they are closely watching how we respond to hard times, and we just decided to keep it real with them. We cry in front of them, we talk through it, we pray together as a family. The big hard decision-making things? Those we save for more private conversations, but always with the boys' feelings and opinions in mind.
And they know that when I'm in my closet with the door closed that it's the most important part of my day… that I'm spending time with the Lord, and only when I've done that can I be the wife and mom He made me to be. I want them to know, more than anything, that every day I did my best to love them in the way they need and teach them how to love and follow the One who knows and loves them even better than I do.
So hug them even if they act like they hate it (they don't.) Talk about stuff even if they squirm (they will.) And look away when they do stuff that scares you. They'll be okay, and you will too.