On December 29th at 20 weeks pregnant I lay on the table at the ultrasound clinic, certain the tech would confirm my motherly intuition.
All the dreams, impressions, comments from strangers, coincidences – all of it said I was having a girl.
“You’re having a girl,” the tech was supposed to say.
“I knew it,” I was supposed to say.
I had my daughter’s name picked out.
I had her first outfit.
In my mind, everything was set.
Four boys, two girls!
would have a sister. Eden
But, the tech didn’t say I was having a girl.
“There he is, it’s a boy,” she said with delight. She didn’t know she was supposed to “It’s a girl.” I hadn’t told her that.
To hear I was having a boy was about as foreign to me as if she’d said “Congratulations. You’re having an alien.”
I told my boys I was crying tears of joy. “I am so happy,” I said, choking through the sobs. I asked the counselor to come hug me so I could hide my face in his shoulders. I was doing one of those ugly cries. I have been very emotional during this pregnancy, but what was this I was feeling? I realized I’d made one major mistake with this pregnancy. For the first time ever, I picked the gender of my unborn child in my mind from the very start. It was a girl. I wanted a repeat of
I had all the clothes. I had the
pink room. I had the hair bows! With all my other children, gender didn’t
matter. I’d wanted a baby anyway the
baby came. So why did it matter this
Truth was I wasn’t sad to be having a boy at all. I love boys. My boys are the best. I love being surrounded by them, their energy, the special way they nurture me. I love watching them set goals and accomplish difficult things. I love watching them run, jump, slam dunk, climb, throw, wrestle (ok, not so much the wrestling part), pray, study and learn. I love having a husband who is so good because I know my son’s have an incredible example.
I realized I was crying because I was saying goodbye to my almost there/just within reach potential second daughter. All the things I’d planned we’d do, all the cute dresses, all the tutus! Once I got a grip and told myself I’d work through the emotions of this later, my thought was “I’m having a boy. I’m having a boy! OH MY GOSH! This is amazing, but I know nothing about raising a boy.” I thought this while sitting in a room with my four sons.
I know nothing about raising boys.
Crazy, but that’s how I felt.
Perhaps overwhelmed is a better way to say it.
What do I know about boys? I know I love my boys. This is a normal day for me.
My boys! They play, they eat, they work, they eat, I discipline, I threaten, they obey, I reward, they eat, I threaten again, they say sorry, they play, they eat, they wrestle, I yell “Take it outside!” We have lots of basketballs and skateboards. They experiment with my tools, search NBA.com and leave their sport equipment all over the house. We do a lot of hiking, love to travel, the counselor takes them camping, SUNS games, UofA games, monster truck events– you name it – we’ve done it with our boys.
My boys with their friends. Eden and I are outnumbered!
They’re so special,
they’re so amazing,
they’re so complex!
The world tries to pull boys in so many directions to count. As a parent, I feel like it's a strange game of tug-of-war. There are drugs, addictions, laziness, and violent video games. So many things that corrupt. There is fighting, gangs and wars. There is showing off to friends and ridiculous stunts with consequences. I know, I have four younger brothers. I heard the stories of the pool-hopping, the car chases, the girl’s they liked with the pretty blond hair. Boys are exhausting.
And with all that, boys have a lot to aspire to. My brothers did it. Because my parent’s loved them, feed them, prayed for them and taught them how to work they are all amazing men. John Mayer says it best, doesn’t he?
I know daughters have just as much potential and complexities, but I get girls. I’m a girl. I feel like I have some sort of grip on raising my daughter. Both boys and girls will make their mark in the world, find a promising career, fall in love. But, my boys. They are a mystery. Oh how I want each of my boys to be good to their wife, like their dad is to me. Someday each of my boys will be a dad too, they will be a provider of their own family. Most importantly, I want them to grow up and be happy.
How do I do that?
How do I raise a boy who grows up to be a happy man? A good man?
I’ve done some soul searching. I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer. Having a fifth son has forced me to get a grip on my growing basketball team.
“My dream team,” I’m calling them.
"I can do this! I can do this!” My new mantra!
And then I remembered a book from my childhood. So You Want To Raise A Boy by W. Cleon Skousen, published in 1958.
This book sat on my parent’s book shelf in the living room. I remember staring at this book (and the very cute boy on the cover) time and time again thinking “If there’s a book written on raising boys, it must be a very difficult thing to do.” I watched my mom reference it over and over again, each time blowing off steam then to regain her composure, bow her head in prayer and try again.
I borrowed the worn book from my parent's last week and after reading it, I wanted to through it against the wall. Yep, it confirms the inevitable. Boys are complex little people who can go in all sorts of different directions. They don’t make sense, they do crazy things and they have lots of testosterone. I was hoping for a check list.
Where was my check list?
Do A, B and C and you will have a perfect boy, but the book doesn’t say that.
Then I got to the chapter 29 “What is the Ideal Mother.” From the first sentence, my racing mind was finally silenced. I felt peace. I could relate to every single word. I read it in pure humility. This is when I got it. Each sentence seemed to feed my soul. Everything was making sense. All the confusion I felt was replaced with a small smile appearing on my face. I felt so honored to be the mother of boys; to be the mother of almost six children. Boys, girls; whatever! They all need love . . . and food!
“The ideal mother is struggling toward heaven and drawing her children with her.”
“By design the ideal mother is a perfect imperfectionist.”
“An ideal mother becomes the model or standard by which her son will judge women.”
“A wise mother finds herself in a key position to guide the entire family toward unity and solidarity.”
What a position of power I have. Wow! Shaping these boys, all my children that will someday be leaders in their homes, cities and countries. It’s such a privilege. I can do this. It’s what I was born to do.
I have asked myself “Is Eden enough?” I have one daughter. Since finding out I’m having another boy, I look at her and know 100% she’s enough. She’s my perfect feminine spirit and I’m so blessed to have her. We have such a special bond, my oh my!
Since finding out I’m having another boy, I feel a bit softer towards my boys. They need just as much love and nurturing as girls. Being pregnant makes me a better person and mother. I have a constant reminder of the sacrifice of what I’m doing; how they are worth it and the rewards and joy to come. I can’t wait to meet my new son (just typing this I have tears in my eyes). My five most precious moments in the world are when the doctor holds up my brand new baby and introduces us for the first time. I’m so happy I get to again try to figure out how to raise a boy. Most of all, I can’t wait to see my boys with a new little brother. There will be laughter, there will be joy and if I have anything to do with it, there will be cake!
So, what was my husband's reaction at the ultrasound clinic? Fist-pumping excitement all the way.