Monday, February 9, 2015

A Toast to Mothers of Boys

Mothers of boys. We always get the understanding nods from our elders. The knowing looks. The benefit of the doubt. The smiles that seem to hold both amusement and sympathy from others who have walked down this road before us and stepped on a Lego. And really all mothers should reap these gracious rewards, regardless of what gender child you're parenting, but there is a special understanding when it comes to parenting a boy. It's a special comradery made up of disheveled, half-crazy people, who's bathrooms always smell like pee.

We get to enjoy the stories from the old men who were once boys. You know the type. The ones that permeate your subconscious with war tales and stories from their youth - beautiful and horrific. "Oh, yes. You have boys." They smile nostalgically. "I lost these three fingers when I was his age. Broke into my dad's TNT stash and tried to blow a stump out of the ground. Guess I didn't throw it in time. Learned my lesson though! Hahaha!"

Those of you who are blessed to be around both know what's up. There is a difference. And while I'm all about tomboys (I was one) and gender-neutrality, I think it's stupid to completely ignore the differences in raising a boy versus raising a girl. I'm not talking pink vs. blue toys, or with which gender we stress science and math, or buying toys cars for girls and baby dolls for boys. Do all that, sure. If your daughter is into monster truck rallies, by all means, do it! I'm just saying that you probably won't catch her peeing on someone's tire in the parking lot while you look for your tickets in the glove box. There are always exceptions though...especially at monster truck rallies...

Mothers of boys have interesting obstacles to rise above. We usually have to lay down the parameters to keep the family safe from concussions, burning down the house, taking things apart that can't be put back together, and maintaining the appearance of civility. We are the deciding vote in farting contests. We are the ones that limit the poop and wiener jokes around the dinner table to a reasonable 5 minutes, or at least try to incorporate some science into the mix. (Here's a fun link about farting, if you need one:

We are the ones who save some worms out when we garden and dig roll-poly shells out of the dryer. We are the ones that suffer the eye rolls when we interrupt the living room doggie pile to ask the husband to "please be careful with their necks".  You never know what the mother of boys will be up to, and you should never judge. How to spit a lugie far enough to miss one's shoes and not spitting into the wind are pretty valuable lessons: they won't get your kid into Harvard, but he'll be held in esteem on the baseball field. Equally valuable are the lessons about not spitting on sidewalks, etiquette in removing one's hat, and the complicated chivalry of dating. (Do men still pay? Should they still open all the doors? Would I even want a daughter-in-law who won't push her own chair up to the table?)

So here's to you moms of busy, sweaty, dirty little boys - I raise my glass of red Kool-Aid that might have a splash of vodka in it. Here's to hunting tigers in the basement with Nerf guns, re-explaining the importance of wearing underwear with pants that zip, and knowing enough about super-heroes to earn a Ph.D.. May we someday own things that aren't broken or goobered up, and may we never have to break out that bail money. Until then, let's make some hilarious memories and keep returning those knowing smiles, like a secret hand shake. :)