Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Those without sons, judge ye not!
I guess this vent could also be called, "All well-meaning mothers of little girls, please take your mumbled comments, your eye-rolls, your advice, and your never-ending judgments, and shove them in a place where the sun doesn't shine! Thanks so much." You can see where I'm going with this one, right? We can debate Nature vs. Nurture for hours and hours, and, no matter which side you fall on, the truth is that boys are different than girls. (Admittedly, my boys are also only 12 months and 2 weeks apart in age, so I think I've got kind of a double-whammy of boy behavior here.) But, I was skeptical about the whole "boys will be boys" thing. I definitely leaned more toward the importance of Nurture over Nature. Truly, I am one of those Moms who has bought my little boys dolls and stuffed animals and worked hard to nurture kindness and cooperation and gentleness since the moment each of my little treasures was born. I am consistent in my reinforcement and in my consequences. I encourage my little guys to play both independently and cooperatively, and I strive daily to help them develop interests in things that don't have engines or involve some sort of battle. I work hard to model the sort of behavior and values I seek to teach (with occasional instances in which I can't take it anymore and "lose it", scream at the boys for their bad behavior, give myself a time-out in my room, and then bawl on my bed, feeling like a useless disaster of a mother). I spend endless hours helping my boys learn to "use your words, not your hands" and solve problems without resorting to hitting, pushing, or calling someone a "stinky poopy head". I do everything I can to burn off their endless energy and address their constant need for movement by taking them on at least two daily adventures (one every a.m., one every p.m.) to playgrounds, parks, the beach, the tubes at McDonalds, bike rides, etc. In short, I work my ass off every single day to ensure that my boys are as well-mannered, kind, gentle, well-adjusted, and happy as possible. I am so tired that I am literally incapable of functioning by the end of the day, I can barely rally to have a half-mumbled conversation with my husband when he gets home, and I am always, always, on the verge of bursting into tears from exhaustion. And, you know what? In spite of my efforts, my little darlings would rather hit each other than use their words. They would still rather pick up a stick and battle each other than color or bake cookies. They compete over every toy, every second of parental attention, every last Cheetoh. They are loud and dirty, when they could just as easily be quiet and clean. They appear to be biologically drawn toward anything slimy or smelly, remotely violent, or involving some sort of wheeled or flying vehicle. They can get completely distracted just walking 10 feet down the hallway to go brush their teeth and end up playing airplane pilot on their bunk beds instead, with no idea what they were actually supposed to be doing. And, they are apparently incapable of walking side-by-side down a hallway or street or stairwell without poking, pushing, or insulting one another. They are boys. So, Mothers-Of-Sweet-Little-Daughters -- The next time you find yourself sneering in righteous judgment at the exhausted-looking Mom in line at the grocery store, trying to put one little boy in time-out for poking his brother in the eye, while comforting the wailing injured brother and simultaneously juggling a cart full of groceries and a purse that won't stay on her shoulder, all while trying desperately to remain calm and to not burst into hysterical sobbing -- please remember this: You have NO IDEA what raising little boys is like. I promise you, from the bottom of my tired little heart, no matter how challenging your little girls may be at times, you don't have a clue what boys are like, until you are raising one yourself. So, please be kind. Please give a smile or a wink or a thumbs-up to that Mom in the store. Reach out in friendship, rather than in judgment. We Moms have to stick together and cut each other a little slack, eh? After all, being a Mom is the hardest job in the world, and we need each other to stay sane. And, thank you so much to the woman at the grocery store who put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Honey, it's not you. They're just being boys. When my boys were little, they made me feel like I was losing my mind most days. You hang in there." I cannot express how much your understanding and encouraging words helped me on that day. A special toast for you, for me, and for all frazzled mothers-of-sons out there: Here's to just a few moments in each day when something isn't being broken, nobody is pushing anybody else's buttons, nobody is tracking mud throughout the house, and we can experience a little peace and quiet before the next onslaught begins. Cheers!
Posted by Beth