The Art of Raising Boys

Image of army men on table, art of raising boys

Raising our boys into well-rounded, warrior-like men demands that we demonstrate BOTH how to be tough AND how to be tender. --Ruth Schwenk

I have been a boy mom for a little over 19 months.  Well, actually it has been about 28 months if you include my pregnancy, which I most certainly do.  So, needless to say, I am still very new to this mommyhood business.  And I am not ashamed to admit to learning something new with each and every day.

But isn't that what makes motherhood so unique?  We really do continue to learn and grow, with no two days ever being the same.  In fact, I may come back and write this post again in a year, just to see how things have changed.  Yep--it's decided.

Now, I realize the title to this post may seem confusing.  I only have one boy, but I certainly have been surrounded by them my entire life.  As the only girl with four brothers, I like to think my own testosterone filled upbringing gave me a slight advantage in preparation for handling a son.  In fact, it is only when I contemplate the idea of having a daughter that motherhood seems truly daunting.  But I digress.

In honor of Mother's Day coming up, I have decided to take my experience with boys, both my own and my siblings, and put together a compilation of what it is like to raise boys.  Or, as I like to refer to them, "young men."

BOYS WILL BE BOYS

Ah yes, the old adage of "boys will be boys" seems to always warrant the most extreme reactions.

It seems that there are two very polar ends of the spectrum when it comes to this topic.  There are those that completely accept this turn of phrase as simple fact, because, duh, of course they will be boys.  What else would they be?  Then there are those that would sooner cut out their own tongues than admit to it, because by doing so we are operating under the assumption that this is a gateway excuse for boys to do whatever they please without any repercussions. 

I guess, like most areas of life, I fall somewhere in the middle.  I would absolutely never let my son off the hook for doing something bad merely because he is a boy and "couldn't help himself."  All children need to be taught self control and discipline.  And you can bet your you-know-what when he does mess up his mama will be the first one to set him in his place. 

However, I have to admit, there are certain times I find myself shaking my head thinking, If I had a girl, would she be doing this?

Now, I know girls get hurt and do incredibly stupid things as well.  In fact, I have a very strong memory of my eight year old self jumping off our roof with an umbrella thinking I could be Mary Poppins.  But after a twisted ankle and a severely bruised tailbone, I never once thought to do it again.  Lesson learned.

Just two days ago my son took a spill and banged up his face something fierce.  This was a complete accident, and I have no delusional expectation that it will not happen again.  In fact, he has since bonked his head two more times.  But that comes with the territory of being an exploratory toddler.

However, when I hear the phrase "boys will be boys," this is the image my mind conjures up.  Because I know this is the first of many boo-boos, and some day they are not going to be little toddler accidents.  There will be black eyes, sprained appendages, and, heaven forbid, broken bones.  And though I do not wish for it, I am already expecting to have a reserved seat at the local ER, because boys, well, they will just be boys I guess.



BOYS WILL BE MESSY

I know, I know, this seems like it should go without saying, but I absolutely have to emphasize this point, because it is so true!  Now, I have been a teenage girl.  I know what kinds of messes they are capable of making.  But what I am talking about is a little different.

Why yes, that is a snot bubble coming out of my son's nose.


Imagine if you will:

You walk into your just cleaned house and then, BAM, it hits you.  A whiff of something not quite right.  You look around frantically trying to find the culprit, but there is nothing in sight.  The smell gets stronger as you head toward the couch.  You bend down and slowly put your hand underneath, not sure what awful monstrosity you will find lurking beneath its shadowy surface, but, alas, you come up empty.  It isn't until you begin to stand up that the smell comes at you like a spider monkey.

You have found the source of the stank.  It is coming from inside the couch!  A soft whimper escapes your lips, but you quickly buck up because you are mom and you've got this.  You grab the corner of the couch cushion, take a deep breath, then quickly pull it to the ground.  There...it...is....

Right in front of you is the source of all the smell.  A three, maybe four day old, half eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  You thought your son had finished his meal, but apparently the couch looked hungry.  It is sticky.  It is moldy.  It is smelly.  This is your life and you love it.



BOYS WILL LOVE THEIR MAMAS


Just like there is a special uniqueness between daddies and daughters, I think there is something equally special between boys and their mothers.  Though I do not have a daughter, if I did, I picture loving her with all my heart and having a lifelong best friend in her.

But my son is my little man.  Next to his father, he is the ultimate love of my life.  I cherish every minute I have with him, because one day I will have to give my son over to another woman.  I will have to accept being the number two woman in his life and that's okay, because that is how it should be.

A boy will look to his father on how he should treat a woman, but he will look to his mother on how a woman should treat him.  My heart swells with pride each time I walk in the room and my son screams "mama" while running arms wide open for me.  And I get sweet little heart flutters each time I ask for a kiss and he plants a slobbery wet one on me.

Boys may be rough and tough, but I truly believe they are born romantics.  It is with their moms that they feel safe enough to cry, ask for romantic advice and go to when they are sick or just want to be silly.

So mamas, treat your boys right.  Teach them what to look for in a good woman.  And never be afraid to let them go find a new one when the time comes.  Because, no matter what, boys will always love their mamas.




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