When a "Girl Mom" Has Boys
Somehow I Never Expected to Have Boys....
I guess I might have been a bit of a “girly-girl” as a child. I loved playing with dolls and making my stuffed animals act in stories. I loved patent leather shoes and “Cinderella” dresses. I loved to draw and usually drew pictures of girls. I especially like to draw their pretty outfits and “do” their hair. I used to love watching the Miss America Pageant. I would draw a girl dressed in a different outfit for each of the 50 states, arranged alphabetically four or five across each sheet of typing paper, and color them with my set of 64 Crayola crayons. Then I’d go around to my family members and neighbors and get them to vote for the one they liked best. When a girl got a vote, I’d write a tic mark above her head.
I don’t remember fantasizing much about getting married and having children. I was more an “in the moment” kind of kid. But when it did cross my mind I just assumed my children would be girls. I loved girls’ names. I had a baby name book and would name each of my drawings of girls, usually what I considered exotic names like Arianna, Juliette, or Isabella. I hated my own name because it was so ordinary.
So imagine my shock when my first child turned out to be a boy. It was 1992 and the ultrasound lady said it looked like a boy, but I did not believe it until I saw him for myself. But there he was – undeniably a boy! What in the world was I going to do with a boy? I knew next to nothing about boys and what I did know I didn’t particularly like. Well, that was 18 years ago and although I was 30 years old when JT was born, it amazes me now how little I knew. And although I have learned volumes in the last 18 years, it amazes me how little I still know, and how much I still learn every single day.
Three years and six months after that fateful cold rainy December day, my second child was born on a lovely June evening in 1996. The ultrasound lady has told me this one was also a boy, but even more than the last time I clung to the shred of hope that she was wrong. A boy and a girl, I thought. How cute and complete that would be. But AJ was all boy, a beautiful dark-haired brown-eyed boy, the perfect little brother for golden-haired blue-eyed JT. I loved them both intensely and devoted myself to being the best mother to them I could be.
Raising Boys:Surprises and Joys
If I had vague expectations of what my children would be like, they surprised me every day by never being what I expected. Besides not being girls, they did not like to read. I had read that learning a musical instrument was excellent for the brain and for learning discipline and follow-through skills, so I signed them up for violin lessons. For three years they dutifully went to their lessons and struggled through their recitals, and for three years they failed to practice. Finally both asked to quit and never touched their violins again. They were not interested in taking lessons for piano, guitar, or wind instruments.
However they did love other things. They loved sports – JT track and AJ baseball. AJ loved skateboards, JT loved rollerblades. They loved guns and knives. They loved digging holes and building forts. They loved eating steak. I had the idea that if you explained to a child that meat was made of dead animals they would not want to eat it. This is just one of my many assumptions that turned out not to be true.
I imagine someone is wondering how I could have been so ignorant about boys. After all, I married one right? Right – I did manage to marry one and how I happened to meet and marry Tom, when I wasn’t even looking, is a miracle in itself. Marriage and parenthood has been a wonderful adventure and I believe it was meant to be. I don't know how I could have raised my boys if I had been alone. Fortunately, as much as I thought I was a “girl mother,” Tom was definitely a “boy father” – and a wonderful one for our sons. He took them camping, shared his love of history with them, taught them gun safety, enjoyed their sports and helped on the field, and has fully appreciated and valued their “boyness.”
The Mother's Day Dogwood Tree
Tom and the boys have loved and honored me in so many ways. I remember a special Mother’s Day when I came home and found a sapling dogwood tree in full flower planted in the yard. I had wanted a dogwood tree for several years and it was so sweet that the three of them had picked one out and dug the hole and waited for me to get home from wherever I was and see it. I was delighted. Unfortunately one year later, almost to the day, I came home one day to find the little tree gone with only a little pointed stump to show where it had been. We live on a lake and a resident beaver decided it was just the piece he needed for the next stage of his dam building. Dam beavers. Still it does not diminish the sweetness of the gift from my boys. On another Mother’s Day, I found a new bicycle in the driveway – a purple one that I still ride. It means a lot when boys remember your favorite color.
I am absolutely convinced that God knew exactly what he was doing when he sent us boys. Yes, I believe that out of thousands of possible DNA choices and combinations, God has a hand in choosing the exact genes that will form each person. Not only did He send me boys, He sent me these particular boys. Both have taught me and are still teaching me the precise things I needed to learn, especially about other people and appreciating the unique value of each human being.