For Mel. Because you’ve arrived.
My friend’s kid broke his clavicle (collarbone) today. I was all, “OMG how did he do that?!?!” And she was all, “as if I know!” And I was all, “being a boy mom is like having Pinocchio: they’re cute and sweet and funny and sing songs and get into trouble – until they break their bones or sever their toes. Then HE’S A REAL BOY NOW! It’s all downhill from here.”
Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails? NO. Broken bones, severed digits, stitches, casts, and slings. That’s what little boys are made of. I once had an EMT tell me my sons reminded him of himself and his brother as kids. Thank God because it was that or child services was going to make a visit. The conversation with my friend made me think though, about how boy moms have our own lovely set of problems that I never experienced growing up in a house full of girls.
1. You associate the “Cheers” them song with the ER, and quietly hum it to yourself every time you happen to be passing by a hospital. Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name. Your friends also joke without being kidding at all that you should just get yourself a hospital parking space on reserve. Whatever. At least you know where the cash machine, empty outlets to plug in your phone, and vending machines can be found. When well meaning staff ask if you know where you’re going, you assume they must be new here.
2. You ration food like it’s war time. Because the ongoing conflict between your bank account and their appetites is never going to end. Sugar just disappears and makes it’s way onto the household black market as their currency with each other. The kitchen is either open or closed, and when it’s closed you keep watch over the surrounding area for insurgents trying to make sneak attacks so that you can intercept them while screaming, “fall back! Fall back! The kitchen is closed! This is not The Hunger Games! There is more food!” You’re considering raising chickens and planting a garden to cut down on food costs and give them something to do with all that energy.
3. Everything smells like pee. They’ve all been toilet trained and somehow that made it worse. Somebody peed the bed the other night and slept through it, didn’t tell anyone upon waking, and it didn’t go discovered until that somebody gave mom a big, urine-smelling hug later in the day. (True story) The bathroom was just thoroughly bathed in enough chemicals to start up a meth lab and it still smells like pee. The Elf On A Shelf *must* have paid a July visit. That’s the only reason the entire laundry pile smells like pee because everybody swears that nobody peed their pants, we promise mom. If you grew up with sisters in a home that smelled like scented candles and perfume, the pee smell is going to assault your senses terribly.
4. Violence is your love language. This one comes courtesy of my husband, because obviously he’s a boy. Man. Man-child. Whatever. If any of them came at me trying to flatten me with a power bomb, I’d call the police and have them arrested whether they were borne of my uterus or not. When they come at each other like that I turn around and walk away because at least they’re getting along and not fighting for once. When they need love from me, they ask me to hug them, chase them, or tickle them until they can’t breathe – a fine line indeed with asthmatics in the house. When they need love from my husband, they jump on his head, fart, and get mad if he doesn’t retaliate by pinning them to the ground and tickling them until I yell at all of them to stop because it sounds like someone is being murdered.
5. You are morally obligated to donate $1 to the Children’s Hospital, every time they ask you in the grocery store checkout line. You have long since learned not to joke that it’s because you “spend enough time there” or you “never know when you’ll be back!” (The cashiers give you the side eye when you say things like that.) If you said no, you’d feel like a traitor, because refer back to #1. Donate, donate, donate!
6. Everything is broken. Including your spirit. Ha! Kidding, honest. But seriously, the door knobs always need to be tightened, their brand new clothes are torn apart, you’re not even thinking about investing in nice, new furniture for at least another 5 years (because you’d be so sad when it started smelling like pee anyhow), and you gave up on trying to fix toys a long, long time ago. It’s a blessing really because you learn the necessity of quality and will pay for the high priced Legos if it means less overpriced broken action figures strewn all over the
toy graveyard playroom floor.
7. Competitions can be made out of anything. Who has more bites of egg left? Who can drink their milk the fastest? Who knows the most about dinosaurs? Who knows the most about rocks? Who can build the highest tower? Who can finish their book first? Who can spell the hardest word? Who can fart the loudest? Who can hold their breath the longest? You want to make it stop but you can’t because they’d turn it into a contest over who can stop the fastest. Competitions that involve being the most quiet and listening to their mother first do not count but you don’t know why because you’d hand out medals for those.
8. Nothing is sacred… I mean, sure you’re teaching them respect and boundaries and all of that “raising a man, not a boy” stuff that you know is important. But they’re still going to think it’s hilarious every time you say “but” in a contextually appropriate way that has nothing to do with butts. Your husband is going to try to back you up unless you actually ask for him to back you up, in which case you may as well just throw up your hands and go read a book alone in the tub with bubbles. NOT fart bubbles, if any of the boys ask (they will ask).
9. …except for penises. Those are sacred. I think they come out of the womb feeling like they’ve won the jackpot just for being in possession of one. When my oldest was 2, he told his cousin to point her peepee down when she sat on the potty. I laughed and and told him girls don’t have penises. He was appalled. And then devastated – for girls. How do we live without one? Why don’t we have one? We manage and I think we’ve got the better deal anyhow. Just don’t tell the boys that. They don’t seem to have the coping skills for that kind of revelation.
10. Everything is enhanced with sound effects. They just don’t know how to not make noise. Even the quiet ones, who enjoy solitary, low stimulus environments and for whom you have purchased noise cancelling headphones. Noisy. Why cook dinner quietly when you could cook it with a real time voice over giving a play by play of your every move. Why go on a nice walk and enjoy nature when you could frighten away every living thing in close proximity with howling noises that sound like a cat dying and bird calls that sound suspiciously like the sound effects in their latest video game. You’re lucky if the park ranger doesn’t track you down because someone called in worried about a possible animal in distress.
It’s not all bad. In fact, it’s mostly good. While I did end up being shocked with a girl baby in the end, I wouldn’t trade my boys for all the girls in the world. (Or her for a boy, for that matter.) Being a boy mom is something else, especially for someone who never got into babysitting, didn’t have brothers, and wasn’t boy crazy. Someone at church recently offered to help me carry my things out after the service. I told them I have 3 sons for that, and I meant it. They’re hard working, diligent, persistent, problem solving, tough, and always ready to step up for someone who needs or asks them. They love their sister and their mama and you better not give them a reason to prove it. That’s where the “raising men, not boys” part comes in. The truth is, if you’re a boy mom you’re going to want them to learn how to take risks, you’re going to be glad that they’re full of energy and always hungry, you’ll be proud that they want to be challenged, you know that material things can be replaced, and you will be relieved when they learn how to get back up when they get hurt. I can’t really help you with pee smell though. I’m told once they stop smelling like pee, they start smelling like rank teen boy b.o. so this problem might be hopeless. Scented candles help.
Superhero pose in the Alberta Badlands. Superheroes in the BADlands, get it? They were amused.
Anything else you’d add to this list, boy moms?
copyright (c) 2015 Jenna Pelias // all rights reserved