Monday, July 14, 2008

Mom to Boys

Every now and then I get a reminder that I am a Mom to Boys. Though we do have one amazing little girl, the vast majority of our four children are of the male persuasion... and while I never would have believed it, parenting them is very different from parenting her.

Mark and I are big believers in children having chores and structure in every single day. I speak on this regularly and have come to really appreciate the fact that our kids are participants in our day to day life... not just living in spite of it. Do I mean, by this, that our kids work day and night on chores I could be doing for them? Not at all. But, every day they do have several things that they must do to help around the house. I do not (usually) have to nag about the jobs but instead developed a program that helps us all keep up with what we must do... the fun, the play, the hygiene : ) and the work. In addition to all this, there are hours upon hours of free play time... most of it spent outside hunting caterpillars and frogs.

So, it was in the midst of these chores that I was reminded again that I am, indeed, a Mom to Boys. After lunch, the children were clearing the table of all meal paraphernalia and had divided this task among them in a way that seemed at least a little fair. In the end, once the table had been found beneath the mess, Benjamin would wash it and Noah would replace the table cloth. (I have four kids... we are lucky to HAVE a table cloth and could never consider actually EATING on it... I have more than enough laundry already!)

As they finished the task, I took Elizabeth upstairs for her nap and Josiah gathered his Webkinz for a mid-afternoon rest time. I came back down to one boy cleaning up the basement and the other reading quietly in the living room. Looks good. And then I glanced into the dining room to find a site I had not expected.

Upon the floor lay all the crumbs that had been "cleaned" off the table. All the chairs were pushed away from the table and the table cloth lay crooked and disheveled on the dining room table.

Now, before you judge me too harshly, I have taught my kids how to do all these things! They know how to wash a table, brushing crumbs into your hand. They know how momma likes a room to look nice and how the table cloth can help achieve this goal. They know to push a chair into the table and have been doing so since they could even walk. But, they are boys.

Now, I am not a "boys will be boys" momma... not at ALL. But, I have learned, in over 10 years of parenting, that while I cannot let my boys be excused for inappropriate (or disgusting!) behavior, they do work differently than I do. They see the task (put the table cloth on the table) but miss the nuance of how to make it look "just-so". They wash the table and likely brush SOME crumbs into their hands... and if a few fall upon the floor, they know they TRIED to do the right thing. These lessons expand into other areas as well... they take off their shoes in the house, but leave them in the strangest places! They comply with a nightly shower, but leave the room in need of a deep cleaning. I could go on and on but listing out these issues does nothing good for my attitude so best that I should stop.

The bottom line? I am a Mom to Boys. There are ways this is difficult but, truth be told, there are ways that it is amazing and better than I had ever hoped it would be. My table cloth is a mess and my floors are covered with outdoor substances that I know I should not attempt to identify... but, many times a day my sweet, loving boys find time to sit with their momma. They wrap their arms around me and I hear them sigh a bit and we relax together for a minute before they are off to seek amphibians that I would rather never see. And... there is the way they look at me... if you have a boy you KNOW. The way a boy looks at his momma is something to behold... it is a gift and I know that is worth it all... the table, the shoes, the toads, the sweaty, sunny smell that comes behind them on the wind. It is worth it ALL.

When I became a mom, I had no idea it would be like this... but I would trade none of it at all. There is wonder in parenting all my kids... in the differences that come by way of gender or personality. It is a good reminder to me in the midst of a long summer only half way done. Today, instead of seeing a table disheveled, I saw the blessing.

Every now and then, Mark tells me that I will miss it all when they are gone. I am not sure this is what I will miss, but I know I cannot even think about them being gone. Some folks like to dream about the day when they will have choices and time and money and grand kids. Not me. I want to soak it up today and live with the memory of choosing this life... choosing a big family... choosing to do it all just like this. My table is a mess and needs a momma's touch... so do my kids. Together we will smooth it all out... and it may not look like I thought it would but it will be just right.

1 comment:

one hot momma said...

I miss my boys...and their help...but mostly just miss them right now...they're at camp...both of them and all I can do right now is sit and pray for them to be ok...God's hands now...oh, it's so hard!
Thanks for encouraging me! I needed that today!
Love you friend!