I am a girly girl. Ask my mom and my sister (who I drove crazy with my girlie shenanigans). Growing up I was the stereotypical girl. I loved pink and purple. I had so many dolls and they all had names and backstories. I had a zillion stuffed animals-one really creepy one whose stomach was velcro and when you opened it, out came puppies that were stuffed in there, but I loved it at the time. I loved tea parties, dressing up, high heels, singing to the top of my lungs about anything and everything. Every day I was a different disney princess, because duh, and I danced everywhere.
Like I mentioned, I have one sister, no brothers. Boy stuff was a whole new world to me and I was not prepared to be a boy mom. It’s not that I didn’t want a boy, it’s just that I didn’t picture myself having one. But God clearly had other plans, because I took one look at Kai and knew he was mine.
In addition to being girly, I’m also Type A and like being in control. Having a boy has challenged all of that. It’s been stretching, but it is SO much fun. I absolutely love being a boy mom. And I love how it has made me a better person.
If you didn’t know, control freaks have a hard time letting go. We’re very serious people. We like to get things done and it’s mostly business. When we set our minds to something we have a hard time remembering to just have some fun and let loose every now and then.
Having a boy who is a sensory seeker to the degree that he literally terrifies people with the zero fear and things he chooses to do, it was stressful those first couple of years. But then I realized, it doesn’t have to be. I’m an introvert, my kid is a total extrovert. I like calm, he loves to create (to me) chaos. I learned that I was trying to make his personality be like mine, instead of leaning into the sweet, awesome kid God made him to be. Once that lightbulb came on, it changed so much for me. Here are 5 ways having a boy has made me let go, and challenged me for the better:
1. It doesn’t always have to be structured.
Now, hear me out. If you came to my house, walked into our playroom and saw the whiteboard in there, you would laugh in my face because it looks crazy structured.
Kids need structure. I actually had been more loose and it was stressing my son out to the point I needed to schedule our day so that he wouldn’t have to fear what was next. He did need to know ahead of time what the day was going to look like. But every day doesn’t always have to be that way. Some of the sweetest times we’ve had are just when I let him lead and go with whatever he wants to do. One thing I learned is those skills I wanted to teach him would get accomplished just by simply playing together.
There can also be a lot of freedom in the structure which is where I think we’ve done well and hit our stride. I plan our days and activities, but within those activities he gets to use his imagination and explore. We never run out of ideas because he is so creative. Some of the things he comes up with within activities are super smart and things I wouldn’t have thought to do. We still have plenty of free play which is so important at this age, and it’s fun to just engage in what he is doing and enter his world. There is definitely a balance between having enough structure without being overly structured.
2.It’s ok to be spontaneous.
Seriously, it’s ok to throw plans to the wind and go a completely different direction. Being spontaneous used to freak me out. Ask some of my former college roommates-there was a reason I was always labeled the “mom” of the group. Plans can change, they aren’t set in stone, and being flexible is just better for everyone (boy has motherhood taught me to be flexible). I love seeing his little spirit light up when he suggests something that’s not part of the day, and I just say yes let’s do it! Or surprise him and say “want to just go to the zoo instead?” Or “hey it’s raining outside! Want to bake some cookies and watch a movie?” Those days have been sweet, because they usually come when it’s been a hard week and we just need to ditch the plan and have some fun. It also gets in a good amount of “yeses”, gives him a sense of control and felt safety, so that in those moments when I do need to say no, not today, he accepts them better. Those are the kinds of memories I want to make with him, for him to grow up and say he and mama just loved to have fun together.
3. Pick my battles. I think this is true of any kid, but in my experience with a boy, they really, really love to push buttons. And they love to get dirty. And they love to do dangerous things. Because mine is a sensory seeker and doesn’t feel pain the same way, I feel like I get that to the ninth degree. For instance, everything, including our own arms, turns into a gymnastics bar. 99% of the time. Everyone is gasping and looking at us like we’re crazy, we know it’s what he needs and he’s got it, so who cares?
He’s been climbing my cabinets without help of a stool or anything since he was 2 years old. Ask me about the time I went to use the bathroom, thought I heard water running in the kitchen, but it was olive oil instead. He literally climbs the walls and door frames, no lie. So we just roll with it. We teach him how to safely get things or show him other ways he can get that input he’s looking for.
I can’t tell you how many looks and remarks I’ve gotten at stores, parks, and play places like I’m not watching him. I used to have more heart attacks and I used to make these things more of a battle. Now, before we did occupational therapy and he had a hard time with body awareness and coordination, there were truly dangerous things he’d try to do. But I learned to pick my battles and just trust my kid, to know what he can and cannot handle. I started asking myself if a battle commenced, “is this really that big of a deal?” If I answered no, then it was my own issue and I needed to let him be. If I answered yes, my next question might be “why? Why is this a big deal to me?” Sometimes it was a safety issue, but a lot of times I found it was because we were in public and I just didn’t want anyone to question my parenting, because everyone has an opinion these days. Those questions I started asking myself would bleed over into times where he wanted to play in the dirt, throw rocks, use sticks as light sabers, you get the idea. I think it’s important for kids to learn to take risks, and I needed to pick my battles and let go so that I wasn’t hovering over him all the time, limiting him. Because at the end of the day I saw how all those battles were crushing his little spirit. He was frustrated and just needed me to believe that he can do it, and be there if it went south. And 90% of the time, he would prove me wrong. And I love that about him.
4. Lean into the funny but gross. I mean seriously. I didn’t know boys literally came out thinking all bodily functions are absolutely downright hilarious. Every time. No matter what. And getting reactions from such bodily functions? Even more hilarious. It makes me roll my eyes and chuckle every time because his laugh is just so contagious, and he finds joy in the grossest, littlest things. It’s stinky and it drives me crazy sometimes, but again, lean in and go with it. It’s made me more lighthearted because it’s so ridiculous.
5. I know more about dinosaurs, star wars, and super heroes than I ever thought possible. I’ve traded my tea parties for epic light saber battles, tutus for capes, and every doll I ever owned for a dinosaur I now know all the correct, scientific names for. Also, all the legos y’all. They are everywhere. And how does such a tiny thing make you curse so much? Is it even possible to organize?? It’s fun, exhausting, makes me go a little crazy, the imaginative play is so different, but it’s an adventure.
But my most favorite thing? This one is a big bonus. Everyone told me how much boys love their mamas. It is a love like no other. For all the rough and tumble and craziness, there is also the sweetest, cuddliest little boy who gives the best hugs, wants tons of kisses, says “Mama will you marry me?” and “I just need mama time.” It’s a bond I never expected, and I cherish every minute of it. One day he will grow up. He will get married and start his own family. I can only hope and pray that I’ve done my job to prepare him to be both strong and gentle, a leader and a listener, a protector and a provider. I hope we’ve taught that family is fun, there’s a time to be silly and a time to be serious, to be attentive to the needs around him and meet them whenever possible, and so much more. Being a boy mom is awesome, and our time together is precious. Take it one day at a time moms, and love every minute.