When I was pregnant with my first child, I chose not to find out the sex of the baby until it was born. I had my suspicions about who I was carrying, and they were confirmed when the doctor called out, “It’s a boy!” I was thrilled, but I had a lot to learn (like when you’re changing a diaper, keep that thing covered–it’s loaded). All these years later, I’m still thrilled to be the mom of a boy, and still learning.
That’s why it was so good to talk to other moms of boys today in The Motherhood. Led by Shell of Things I Can’t Say (superhero sons pictured above), our panel included Amanda of Parenting by Dummies (who seemed plenty smart to me), Kimberly of Kimberly Muro Designs, Adrienne of The Mommy Mess, Alexandra of Good Day, Regular People, and Tayarra of 5 Sharp Lives.
Parenthood is full of surprises, of course, and we wondered what everyone found most surprising about raising boys. To our panelists, the surprises were mostly good ones. Like many moms, Kimberly always pictured herself as a mom to daughters, and she was surprised how much she loves being a mom to boys. Similarly, Tayarra observed, “I’m surprised at how well we fit together. They are so perfect for me. Does that make sense?”
Ever wonder how to annoy a mom of only boys? Tell her you feel sorry for her for not having any girls, or ask her if she’s going to “try for a girl.” That was a pet peeve of many of our panelists, who don’t feel a daughter is necessary to “complete” their families.
Loving being a mom of boys is not to say that raising boys comes without challenges–they’re just challenges that moms, as card-carrying lifelong females, struggle to understand. Suffice it to say, if you have a boy who prefers to run around without underwear, or without any clothing at all, you are not alone. And holy cow, have you noticed how those little dudes can eat? I guess that’s how they become big dudes–who eat even more. I was also relieved to learn I wasn’t the only mother to wonder why it is so challenging for the young male of the species to find the large hole in the middle of the toilet and remember to put the seat up and down again (in fairness, some of the not-so-young males struggle with this as well).
And apparently, if you’d like to prevent your son from playing with guns, you’re facing an uphill battle. Shell, like many of the talk participants, found that her boys made guns out of other toys. How she handled it: “We talk about the difference between a toy and a real gun as well as talking about how serious it would be to really shoot someone. And as harsh as it may seem, what it means for someone to die.” On the flip side: what about boys who like to play with “girly” toys? It seems to be plenty common, and it doesn’t bother our panelists a bit. Adrienne said, “My youngest has a tendency to lean toward ‘girly’ stuff. I’ve always let him do his own thing!” Amanda noted that some people raised eyebrows when her three-year-old went through a tutu phase, but said, “he got over it and wearing it for a bit didn’t hurt him or anyone else.” Typically, it seems like the people who have the biggest issue with boys playing with girl toys tend to be the older generation.
As our boys grow older, one worry many moms have is whether the lines of communication will begin to shut down. The moms on this talk had great ideas to prevent that from happening. Amanda and Kimberly find that direct questions work well for them. Others find that talking in the car or after lights out at bedtime helps boys feel comfortable talking. One mom observed, “My boys don’t like to sit and chat. BUT if we’re shooting buckets, or going for a bike ride, or playing catch…if their hands are busy, then they talk. Their hands busy help their words flow.” In light of the fact that so many of us expect our biggest challenge will be talking about sex with our boys when the time is right, having communication strategies in place seems wise. Good advice: a united front with dad for that talk. In general, though, the key to communication with boys seems to be treating them with respect, fostering trust, and not turning a conversation into an interrogation.
Another challenge all moms of boys will eventually face…letting our sons go. Whether sending them off to kindergarten (where our panelists thought their boys adjusted more quickly than they did) or off to college, it really seems like they grow up way too fast. Something I’ll try to remember next time I’m hyperventilating over a grocery bill or scrubbing a bathroom floor.