(Inside: If you are raising sons, your life is so very blessed. Here is why…)
I was positive that when I started having babies, I would have a daughter. Absolutely positive.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I gave birth to one son, then a second son, then a third.
I’ve found, in being a boy mom, I get similar comments. For example, someone will see me with my sons and say:
- “So – are you going to try for your girl?”
- “Three boys… whoa… you must be tired.” (Which, let’s be clear – I am.)
- “All boys. Man, I feel sorry for you.”
- Or that awful saying: A son is your son until he takes him a wife. A daughter is your daughter for the rest of your life.
What raising sons looks like…
A few years ago, my family and I were eating breakfast at my grandmother’s senior living center. It was normal family mayhem. My husband and I helped our kids through the buffet. (“No, you cannot pile only doughnuts on your plate.”) We were up and down during the meal. Orange juice spilled; syrup dripped. Then our chaos was interrupted.
A resident came over to our table and said to me, “You have such beautiful boys.” She hesitated as if trying to decide if she should say more…
I waited for the BUT…
But, I saw those boys wrestling…
I thought the woman might comment with eyebrows raised, “I watched those boys dogpile each other in the lobby.” Yes, they do that. At retirement centers, at target, and in our church foyer. I was not prepared for my sons’ need to daily put each other in a headlock.
But that’s okay because I can get their dad to help. “Husband,” I say, please make these boys stop wrestling. So, his solution? To simultaneously put all three in the full nelson hold. (“Thanks, honey – effective, really effective.”)
But, I heard about their schoolwork…
Or maybe the lady would shake her head and say, “But, your grandma told me about the story your son wrote.” You see, I love writing – so I couldn’t wait to read the beautiful words my sons would weave together for school assignments. When my 1st grader brought home his first book, I held it in my hands with great anticipation.
However, the title made me have some doubts. It said, “The Day I Kicked Down a Snowman.” I began reading.
One day my friend and I made a snowman.
The snowman was little.
We played battle when we were done.
I kicked the snowman down.
No more snowman.
Then on the last page was a note from the teacher that said: “Sounds exciting! See me!”
But, that bathroom situation…
Or maybe the woman would sigh, “But, I used the family bathroom after your boys.” Oh please don’t let that be the case. I had no idea the toilet would be such an issue in raising little boys. One day, about 5 minutes after I bleached the bathroom (again), I saw that “faithful puddle” at the base of the toilet. It’s so confusing. I know my kids have aim because they always seem to hit the back rim of the oval, so the pee slides down the sides to the floor – that back rim is like a 1-inch by 4-inch rectangle, if they can hit that, surely, they can get to the wide oval center.
At that moment, I was so frustrated, I went all math-teacher-mom on them – I grabbed a tape measure, measured the diameter of the oval compared to the rectangular back rim, did a little geometric probability, and found that there’s about a 98% chance of the boys getting their streams in the toilet.
I told my young boys: The. Odds. Are. In. Your. Favor!
I’m a boy mom too…
However, none of those “buts” is what the lady from the retirement home said. Instead, she explained,
“I have three sons, too, and I love it. They take such good care of me.” She said it with such joy and pride, and went on to give me examples of how her sons loved her well. The wisdom of her 90-something years and the passion in her voice stirred my emotions. She ended our conversation by firmly stating, “My sons take better care of me than…”
(Ready for this?)
“any daughter ever could. I am so happy I have three sons.”
This is also what raising sons look like…
Over the years, I’ve thought about her words – and I’d say they’re true…
My boys have given me a million snuggles and hugs and kisses.
My kids have written “I love you, mom” and drawn pictures of me on cards for holidays.
They’ve scribbled kind thank you notes: “Thank you for helping us with homework, cooking us food, and letting us get a dog.”
At their musical, band concerts, and games they look into the crowd to make sure I’m there.
When we’re walking into buildings, they open the door for me.
When I pull into the garage with my van full of groceries, they get on their shoes and help me carry the bags in.
They’ll be chatty with me describing in detail all aspects of their day, but then clam up around other people.
They love when I’m home and tell me so.
In their own unique ways, with their given personalities – every day, my kids show me that they love me.
If you’re raising sons, you are blessed…
So, that morning at the retirement home, I let the sweet lady’s words soak in as she turned to walk away. She took a few steps away and I found myself calling out to her, “Thank you… Thank you for saying that to me.”
She turned back around and our eyes met. We exchanged a knowing look that only two mothers of all boys would understand, connecting us across two generational gaps.
Mother of all boys. I am so very blessed.
Do you want to raise men of faith?
I hope my sons believe that God is working in their lives and is always near. I desire for my sons to daily talk to God and ask for his guidance and help.
But there are practices and homework and orthodontist appointments and all the things. How do you teach daily faith in a tangible way?
Growing up my family prayed together as much as our busy schedule allowed in a very imperfect way before bed, and it’s left a lasting impact on me. It’s one of my best teen-years memories. It was short, yet powerful.
Family prayer is a daily routine that gives our kids a chance to be heard, unpack their day, and then point them back to the source of our strength.
It can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes, depending on what’s going on that evening for your family. Read more about the 7 powerful reasons to pray as a family, then I hope you enjoy the prayer journal as much as my family has.
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Author’s note: When I published the original version of this story on The Huffington Post, it went viral. I had an opportunity recently to audition for a mom-story-telling show. When I thought about the story I wanted to share, I kept going back to this near-and-dear-to-my-heart moment. I love how the power of one person’s words can be so uplifting. So, I combined the Huffington Post piece with a talk I had done at MOPS on raising sons. This was the result. So, here’s an updated version from the perspective of a mom now raising older sons. I hope you enjoy it.
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.