When I was pregnant, I was so certain that I was having a girl that I had convinced myself I was actually having twin girls. You can imagine my surprise when the sonographer showed us a picture on the ultrasound screen of one spread-eagle baby proudly displaying a wiener.
I grew up with one older sister, lots of girlfriends, and a very involved mom (of course my dad was ever-present, but my sister and I were into all things girly). To say that I was terrified of all things boy would be a vast understatement.
Guaranteed, you will be told horror stories of getting peed on during diaper changes (you will), and that once they stop being snuggly babies they morph into dirt-covered noise (they do). I want to share with you some of the things I have learned in the last almost 5 years. Because, despite all of the advice we get about parenting, we are never really prepared.
Things no one tells you about being the mom of a boy:
1. You will talk about wieners. All the time, in every place you go, nearly every day, there will be talk about wieners. You will have to tell him why you don’t have one, tell him to stop grabbing his all the time, tell him to please point it down when peeing in the mornings, and agree that, yes it does float and sink when you swish your legs around in the bath water, now please for the love of all things holy just play with your damn boats.
2. Everything is a weapon. I don’t care how hard you try to teach your son not to make swords out of paper towel rolls or guns out of Legos, he will do it; despite your obvious chagrin. I have given up this fight. My new mantra is, “Its fine to pretend to fight bad-guys. Don’t hit your friends or classmates. Never hit girls. Stop ninja-ing the dogs!!”
3. He will try to copy his heroes. For a while he might race around the house like Lightning McQueen; then he will run up and down your hallway, arms spread like wings, pretending to be Dusty Crophopper; then he will make sound effects while pretending to shoot webs out of his wrists like Spiderman; then he will get obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and ask you to repeatedly watch his “awesome action jumps” and “sweet ninja moves” (and often a combination of the two). Then one day, you will catch him right before he is ready to try to hang-glide down your stair hand-rail using plastic nun-chucks. And, because moms don’t know anything, he will later hang from his monkey bars by those same plastic nun-chucks, which will break and he will fall just like you warned him he would, but he did it anyway, at the very moment your back was turned. And he won’t care at all that you were right and he skinned his knee because he will be too pissed off about those stupid nun-chucks. Thanks again, Grandma, for the nun-chucks!
4. Poop gets caked in ball wrinkles. I don’t really need to explain this. But I feel like you should know. No one told me. I’m so glad he is potty trained.
5. He will smell like a stray dog in the summer. To be fair, my mother-in-law (mom to all boys) did tell me this. But I didn’t believe her. I knew my baby was different. He would always smell gloriously of that wonderful pink baby lotion and would never come in my sparkling clean house caked in dirt and smelling of sweat and farts. I was wrong. So wrong.
6. He will pee outside. I’m not sure why, but I tried to stop this from happening. I think maybe because I was afraid he would pee on the school playground if he was used to doing it at home. Likely he won’t christen the slide with urine – but there will be a day that you will hear the back door open and close and, because you are a good mom, you will follow him because he’s not supposed to go out back alone, and he knows that. As you are ready to scold him you will see two perfectly round little buns with shorts scrunched down below them, and pee spraying further than you thought possible, and a little boy with a very proud grin on his face will look back at you; and your anger will melt away. And you will laugh. At that point you will decide to start choosing your battles.
7. You will learn to love the outdoors. Or at least tolerate the outdoors. He will want to be outside every waking second and you will be okay with that. Because boys are like young Labrador Retrievers; if you don’t run them they will destroy your house.
8. Saturday mornings are gifts and donuts are gold. Before busy schedules take over, or he wants to hunt every weekend, or he takes up soccer; cherish Saturday mornings. Take him for donuts, snuggle him on the couch, read to him. Saturday mornings are the one day where everything else can wait. Also, donuts are excellent if you choose to use bribery as one of your parenting techniques – not that I would ever do that.
9. He will get his heart broken. A broken heart looks a little different at different ages, but it will hurt no less because he is young. At almost 5, a broken heart looks like a best friend who told him he was stupid, or a neighbor boy who called him dumb, or a boy at school who told him he couldn’t play with him. Because, when he is young, he will love his friends something fierce, and it is heartbreaking to feel sad and left out at any age. Boys are created with tender hearts and sensitive souls (it is the unfortunate way of our gendered society that tells boys they have to be unemotional and forever tough).
10. You will do things you didn’t ever think you would. Some day you are going to yell at that neighbor kid who called your kid dumb. Some day you are going to lose a friend because you won’t allow your son to go to her house because the two of you parent differently and you don’t trust that your son isn’t going to get hurt at her house; and you will be genuinely surprised that you aren’t really hurt by that loss of friendship. Your “relevant ads” will become monster-truck and super-hero related because of the time you spend searching Amazon for the best deals on birthday gifts. Your YouTube history will show that you have watched the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme song (with printed lyrics) over 100 times so that your son can learn the words; therefore you also know the. entire. rap. You will wear a felt mask, and wrestle, and learn more about construction equipment than you ever thought possible or necessary. You will put worms on hooks, become interested in sports, look at bugs, and make a fool out of yourself playing baseball in the front yard. And you will love it. You will love every single fleeting second of it.
11. You will change. One day you will realize that the woman you are, the way you speak to him, and the way he is allowed to treat you, will influence his choices for the rest of his life. This realization will affect each of us differently. Maybe you will choose to stop negative self-talk, maybe you will learn to stand up for yourself, maybe you will encourage your son to always show respect to women, maybe you will shift your view on what men are and aren’t supposed to be. You will likely stop caring about being cool; and will absolutely embarrass him at some point, knowing that a little parental-embarrassment is good for his character. You will probably call your own mom and apologize for ever telling her that you were going to be a cool mom and that she was the worst in history. Because she wasn’t – and you are proud to have become more like her. Whatever it is that changes in you; it will be good, and it will be beautiful. Because there is no heart quite like the heart of a mom who loves a little boy.
Even on days when all I crave is five minutes of silence, I am thankful for my sweet Little K (who still wants to marry his mommy) for always keeping me In Good Company.
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