When we found out we were having our fourth bouncing baby boy, the comments immediately started rolling in.
“Wow! You’re the ultimate #boymom!”
“Good thing you know boys so well!”
“You don’t have to redecorate the nursery!”
Even when I get on Facebook, somehow they know too and are constantly advertising #boymom shirts and coffee mugs to me. I get offered daily condolences and consolation prizes.
“Well at least you don’t have to pay for a wedding!”
Or “at least you won’t have to deal with a teenage girl!”
I’m not offended by any of the comments. If I have learned anything over the years of enduring four boy pregnancies, it’s that people are just doing their best to make conversation with you. People love pregnant women. They want to talk to you and tell you about their pregnancies and rub your tummy and reminisce, and I believe that people genuinely mean well.
But I was a little surprised this pregnancy at how little I related to the idea of being a #boymom. In fact, I still haven’t bought a t-shirt from the Facebook ads despite their persistence in showing them to me because one thing I’ve found in raising 3 little boys so far is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to motherhood.
Here’s the truth: having one son in no way prepared me to have another.
Really the only thing they have had in common thus far has been the Y chromosome and a mutual joy over potty humor. Well, that and the fact that boys tend to be more physical than my brain fully understands and they come into the world able to make sound effects that my mouth is incapable of.
The oldest is brilliant, LOVES to be the center of attention, and will talk to any one who will listen (or even pretend to listen… or not listen). He has always approached life with enthusiasm and excitement. He’s active and loves nature, but has little time to sit down and learn the complexities of a single sport. He’s musically inclined and so sensitive to the needs of others while somehow being almost impossible to offend. He rarely gets his feelings hurt, but he would never hurt your feelings. He also is incredibly tolerant of cold, heat, thirst, and exertion, yet unable to go 30 minutes past his bedtime without everything falling apart.
When the second boy rolled around, I thought, “I got this. I know boys now.” Well, he was a late talker. And he HATES to be the center of attention, or to even get any attention at all, for that matter. He cannot imagine anything worse than someone looking at him and expecting him to perform. He’s a natural athlete and actually cares if he wins the game. And he’s sensitive. Oh sweet Lord, is he ever a drama king, but he cuddles better than anyone ever and loves his Mama something fierce. I am certain he’s the only one who will visit me in the nursing home.
Then there was that third boy… sheesh. Another mind of his own. He’s stubborn and independent and he refuses to eat which constantly stresses me out. He’s got us all wrapped around his finger and is a natural born comedian. He’s sort of a lone wolf and prefers the quiet of home to Disney World (which is not genetic, I’m certain of that). He asserts and expresses himself very well and unfortunately is a sponge for all the undesirable things his older brothers do and say. He once infamously told a very nice elderly lady at church, “bye, doo doo face.”
The more I get to know these little men, the more I realize not only how incredibly different they are, but how incredibly different their needs are.
Sometimes they need the drill sergeant in me to remind them to get in line ASAP and sometimes they need a tender touch and quiet assurance and more often than not they need those different approaches at the same moment so I look schizophrenic to anyone who may be watching.
They do not approach situations the same. Their strengths and weaknesses are not the same. They have a different tolerance level for dirt, noise, and separation from their Mama.
As I prepare to have another little boy join our family in a few short weeks, I don’t feel like I have all the answers. I don’t feel like I can write the book. I feel those same butterflies I have had before meeting every other blessed baby before him. The only upper hand I have is that I know that the time is short and the phases don’t last forever and that in time I will know him and he will know me and we’ll figure it all out together.
So yes, yes I am a mother to all boys, but really all that means is that I’m a mother.
Just another woman tasked with the enormously huge task of raising a child as best as she can. Just the same as the mother to all girls or the mother to a mix or the mother to one or the foster mother. Aren’t we all just learning with each and every new moment that motherhood throws at us?
I won’t be buying the shirt any time soon (so give it up already, Facebook), but I will be holding each of you near my heart as we continue to walk on this journey together. Solidarity, #mom. I’m with you.