Becoming a mom is scary.
Being a mom to more than one child is scary.
But being a mom to four boys?
I thought after having two boys that adding three and four would be no big thing. That I was a boy expert and knew how to do the whole “boymom” thing. WRONG. Sure I knew the basics: make sure “it” is always pointing down during a diaper change, keep bandaids on hand at all times, make sure the refrigerator and pantry are always stocked…but what I wasn’t prepared for was how all of the advice that I had gotten was completely irrelevant for the areas where it mattered. Everything anyone who gave me advice about having more than two boys focused on was the idea of being outnumbered and the end of being able to have nice things. It was always based on what boys do and not on who boys are.
So I’d like to share what I would consider the 7 things every mom of multiple boys needs to know:
They’re not all the same.
They’re just not. We often get asked if we used a mold or cookie cutter for our boys. They look remarkably similar, and when you see a picture of all of them together, it’s a pretty good idea of what each of them looked like at those ages. But their looks are where their similarities end. They are individuals. It’s unfair to judge any of them based on what his brother did at a certain age or how well/poorly he performs at a given task compared to his brother. He’s not his brother! I have to remind myself of this often, but it is so important to allow them to be themselves. To allow for each of them to explore the things in which he is interested and develop at his own rate. If comparison is the thief of joy, think about what comparing your boys to one another does to them.
When a little boy has his heart set on something, he’s going to try to do anything and everything to get it. It’s seems instinctual. Whether it’s attempting to figure out how to build a Lego structure just so, perfecting baseball fielding skills, or just wanting to set up the slip ‘n slide, they argue with conviction like no other I’ve seen (even if they’re straight up wrong or lying). And they never. give. up. They fight intensely. They play intensely. And they love intensely. There is truly nothing like the love of a little boy for his mom.
Almost every person I meet who learns I have four boys says, “Well, at least you don’t have to deal with drama!”
Have you ever been in the room with a prepubescent tween boy? Especially one you’ve told to fold his laundry? Or how about a nine year old boy who got a scrape on his knee? Or a six year old boy who was told he’s not allowed to have ice cream for breakfast? Dr-ah-ma. It may look different, but it’s there. And it might come at different ages than girls, but it’s there.
They need to move.
Boys are impulsive. They think of something and they need to do it right then. It might be pretending they’re an all-star baseball player. It might be painting a picture of the Statue of Liberty. It might be making cookies. The point is, it takes many different forms, but they need to move when they feel the urge. They need to have boundaries to help them know when it’s appropriate or not, but the urge is there in all of them. As an educator, it pains me when I see little boys who have been labelled as ADHD. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate cases of it, but I have seen too many little boys labelled and medicated for simply being little boys. When did our expectation of them become such that they should be able to sit still and not make a ruckus for hours on end?
They ask so. many. questions. And it’s not to annoy you. They truly want to know and try to understand how everything around them works. They want to investigate. They want to experience. And they will work together when it will help them satisfy their curiosity more quickly. Again, the topics may differ, but the curiosity is there.
They want you there.
For whatever reason, when boys are a part of sports teams it’s expected that their dads be in attendance. But when it comes to moms there are a lot who are not there. My boys play sports, and it breaks my heart every time I hear one of their opponents or teammates ask their dad if their mom is coming and they’re told no. There are valid reasons for not being there to be sure, and I have had to miss a game or two here and there, but if you don’t have a reason besides “it’s not your thing,” GO. You don’t go because the activity he’s in is your thing, you go because your son is your thing. The joy and excitement when they look at you and know you’re there cheering for them is something that can’t be replaced. And the opportunities won’t be there forever. It can be a sport, a play, a choir, a chess match…it doesn’t matter. He wants you there.
They need you.
My boys often don’t express their emotions in a sane, rational way. They will scream. They will cry. They will kick or punch. All of these behaviors are when they have shown they need me most. Remember how I said they were intense? When they show emotion to that level of intensity, they need help to navigate through it. They need to feel safe. They need to feel your love. And they need your listening ear. It seems to be a boy’s nature to keep things to himself, so much so, that when it comes out, it is an emotional explosion. It can create a situation where you just want him to stop and you send him to his room or start handing out punishment, but I encourage you to take a breath and listen first. Trust me, it’s not easy. But it is what they need from you.
I’m not saying I have it all figured out. Or that I’m mother of year. But these are things that I have learned and wish someone would have told me when I started on this journey as a mom to multiple boys. And the one thing I can confidently say, I wouldn’t trade my little boys for anything in the world.
Agree? Disagree? Something to add? Let me know in the comments.