Lisa M Beamer
Throughout my first pregnancy, I was convinced I was having a girl. It almost came as a shock when, at the moment of delivery, the doctor announced the arrival of a healthy baby boy! I was thrilled to have my son, but in the coming weeks, my mind often wandered to the future, wondering if I was going to be able to adequately raise a son. After all, I was a girl, and I had no brothers. Little boys were not something I knew anything about.
In the fourteen years since that child's arrival, as well as the coming of a second son, I've been astounded at how much joy little boys bring. Their personalities are unique, their interests are different, and the way they relate to people -- especially Mom -- is so very special. I'm not alone in these feelings. There are many things that could be considered the best about boys; here are some that other mothers have discovered.
Characteristics of boys
While no personality trait is exclusive to one gender or the other, there are characteristics that boys often possess that are endearing to their mothers. Carrie Smith, mother of four sons, describes her boys as being simultaneously "warm, loving and rough," a combined trait that is hard to understand until you are the mother of a male child. Indeed, boys show affection in different ways than girls. It often comes across as rough-housing or other horseplay with friends and siblings. With their mothers, though, boys can show as much affection as their female counterparts, especially as they grow older.
"There is nothing like the feeling of having handsome young men ranging in age from 27 to 45 seek you out to give you humongous bear hugs," says Jo Dall, mother of nine grown sons.
Mother to one son and stepmother to another, Michelle Pearson shares that at times, her boys seem to be even more connected to her than her girls. "My 10-year-old stepson seems to enjoy my company a lot more than his sisters do, or even my own daughters. We bake cookies together, make dinner and go shopping. I think that boys, even as they get older, feel less threatened by their mothers and are thus less encumbered about forging a relationship with them."
Boys are typically drawn to trucks and dirt more so than to dolls and dress-up. For a mother like me who had little experience with "boy things," this can feel like walking into a foreign land -- but not for long. Our boys are more than willing to teach us many things that we might not otherwise find appealing. Smith reports having been taught by her boys how to relax about the small things that used to bother her such as crumbs, dirt and mixing different colors of Play-Doh.
Through watching our sons develop their interests, mothers might also find themselves growing in unexpected ways as well. Says Holly Case, "My son loves playing in the dirt, climbing tall things and rough-housing. These games are new to me, so I am discovering new talents and skills in myself all the time."
By nature of their gender, boys afford their mothers glimpses into the male world, helping them to understand men in general. Says Case, "I used to think some of my husband's maddening 'guy' traits were things he was taught, or at least things he could change. I didn't believe men inherently had certain traits. Now, even at age two, I can see that my son is very masculine despite my efforts to avoid socializing him by gender, and I've realized that some masculine traits truly are inborn."
Boys, both big and small, will often surprise -- or shock -- the women in their lives with some of their undesirable habits, perhaps beginning with the first time a baby boy "takes aim" at his unsuspecting mother during a diaper change. However, the dirty socks on the floor and the toilet seats that are left up are seen by many mothers as opportunities to teach their sons to do things differently. "I like the fact that I can take everything that bothers me about my husband, or men in general, and teach my boys the exact opposite," says Smith. Along with teaching them to clean up after themselves and to use basic good manners, Smith emphasizes the importance of making their future wives feel special by remembering birthdays and other holidays, by doing things without having to be asked and by teaching them how to communicate.
Sweet and strong
Mothers who are expecting and know they are having a boy, or perhaps are afraid that they might be, can take heart. It is not uncommon to wonder if you will be able to parent a boy, or even wonder if you will be able to love a boy like you would a girl, especially if you already have daughters. Says one such mother, "I can't believe how wonderful and sweet our boy is, especially since he arrived after two very charming girls. I thought a boy would be very different -- and probably not so cuddly -- but he is just about the most gloriously sweet baby in the world."
Parenting boys may not always be easy, but it has many rewards. Smith considers it a privilege to raise her boys, and I would have to agree. We are raising the next generation of men for our world, and that is an awesome task. By providing strong, supportive environments for our boys now, we are helping them to become strong, supportive men for their future families. The returns will be ours as we watch our sons grow into adults -- the husbands and fathers of tomorrow.