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Saturday, January 2, 2016

So, you want to raise a boy. . . Christmas Edition!

We’ve had a flurry of activities this Christmas.  Cousins are in town and activities are morning, noon and night. 

I was fine when we missed the bracelet-making activity.  I was told only girls allowed, the older girls - so my five sons and my one little girl stayed home and made the best out of the afternoon trying to clean the house up a bit after Christmas morning from five days ago. 

I was fine when instead of making gingerbread houses with the frosting and graham crackers, the red and green m&m’s color-coordinated to make a spectacular roof, the front windows made out of half-ed Oreo's and the frosting flowers built up along the side of the house covered in sprinkles all my boys wanted to play basketball outside in the frigid 32-degree night air. 

I was fine when none of my boys wanted to help wrap Christmas presents (a task I loved helping my mom with every year when I was a kid), even when I threatened there might not be presents if I didn’t get any help.   It was Addison, my neighbor’s 11-year old daughter who stopped by to pick up her brother playing with my boys who asked:
“Do you need some help?” I stared at her, blind-sided and juggled a baby on my hip; a baby boy mind you.
“Really, Addi,” I said amazed a little human being could stop running, jumping and wrestling long enough to notice me.
“Sure, I’d love to help,” she said so I took her into my room/santa cave and with a bit instruction on what gift was for whom she started wrapping presents.  She didn’t stop once, she didn’t complain, she didn’t get distracted.  She just wrapped presents.  Actually, she seemed to be having a pretty good time with the different patterns of paper, the bows and ribbon, the gift tags and boxes.  An hour later, she walked out of the room and thanked me “because it was so much fun.”

Hmmm!  What was I missing here?

It wasn’t even the family talent show where the girls shouted out a made-up Christmas cheers “Hooray S-A-N-T-A” or dressed up in cute little Christmas dresses and twirled and spinned.  When my mom gathered all the girls to sing a Christmas carol it was darling.  My five-year old daughter Eden loved it and looked so cute.

And when the girls gathered to do nails and make up, it was great the boys were indisposed – my five boys and 5 nephews all, all jumping on the trampoline (maximum limit 200 pounds) having a slam-dunk contest in the darkness of night.

So, what was it?  What finally got me thinking about boys and why/how/when/ did I have so many boys!




So, at Krazy Air I watched as my niece Natalie patiently taught Eden how do a front flip.  She methodically taught her a somersault, then helped her jump into it a bit more.  It was so sweet while my boys where caught up in the most intense game of dodge ball I’d ever seen.  
I can’t believe someone didn’t lose and eye or an arm or a head.  I think someone might have lost an ego. 

It became so clear this Christmas.  I have a lot of boys.  Like, so many.
And so much of my life is crowd-control, referee-ing and cafeteria-style meals.
What is going on?

Why I had to repaint the boy’s bathroom . . . again, why the lock to my bedroom door is broken . . . again, why I refuse to buy any more socks . . . like ever!!!  I do have a few friends who have only boys or all boys and one girl. When we see each other we give each other this sort of pity-sighed “hang in there” look; 

our straggly hair hanging in a sort of half-pony tail/half-noose.
Most mothers of five or more boys have a look of bravery and fear, 
but they really fell like this.  

It’s a funny game face; screaming for mercy yet shouting “WAR!”

What I really want to be doing is this.
I shout "I'm the princess!"

Why did God give me five boys? 
I didn’t realize I was in a sort of reality check funk.  I just knew I was struggling a bit to fit into the world of girl’s night out, matching outfits and trips to the mall that did not involve the entire time at the Nike store.

It wasn’t until we were at lunch and my boys were arguing over a tray of submarine sandwiches.  The just-made sandwiches were wrapped in white deli-paper, making it impossible to tell which was the ham and cheese and which was the turkey.  Which had lettuce and which did not.  I was fed up!  Seriously boys!  More elbow-shoving, more name-calling, more indignant eye-rolling and I couldn’t take it anymore!!!  I could lose it.  I could seriously go the mental breakdown route, but I was too tired.  I had no more gut-ruling lecture, no serious consequence or gospel-inspired parable in me.

I surrendered. 

I surrendered at the deli!

Instead of calling out my boys ruthless behavior, instead of labeling this son that and the other son this, I patiently (while juggling a darling drooling baby under my arm) helped distribute what sandwich went where and suddenly, God spoke to me.

He said to me “I know you can do this.” 
He seemed to say “I trust you.”
I felt a wave of strength fill me with an interesting confidence.  I sat down and enjoyed lunch and on the drive home, while the boys talked about how much fun they’d had and what they wanted to do when they got home I felt God say in my heart “I wouldn’t give this opportunity to just anybody.”
I felt warm and good and happy.

I spent the rest of my day as an observer.  Who are these boys?  These beautiful boys some day to be men!  
I have one son who is so kind and attentive to me.  Another son acts just like Jim Carrey.  He’s funny and the life of the party (also a total flirt).  I have a sensitive son who needs a lot of reassurance but he’s finding his way.  I have a son who’s an all-American kid, like he just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  He loves everything and every one.  My baby boy, who up until now would go to just about anybody only wants mommy.  He bounces in his stand-up chair and watches me pick up toys and start on dishes.  He’s not happy until he’s back in my arms.

My boys are going to be men someday - fathers and husbands. 

I dare you, look at a man.  Would you want to raise him?  It would be like swallowing an acorn seed from a giant oak tree and wondering what it will do to your heart. Crazy!  Men are amazing necessary incredible people, but how does that happen.  It’s like holding an ice cube only to watch it grow into a giant glacier that changes the coarse of the ocean current. Raising a boy to a man has no pattern yet has every pattern.  It has to have all the necessary ingredients or it will spontaneously combust.  Love, nurturing, discipline, consequences and dinner on the table every night at 6:00.  Seriously, it’s torture!  Seriously, it’s the most meaningful purpose of my life!

I might miss out on the chic flicks, for now.  Eden patiently waits for me to make cupcakes with her.  I haven’t curled my hair since high school.  All the boy toys I’ve given away, I’m on the look out for again.  The fire trucks, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Train are back, Eden’s barbies are in her room and Canyon’s toys have taken over the living room. I have boys on every range of the scale -teenager to infant!  

I want to be understood but I’m also ok being different.  I know where I stand, not longer in platform heels but old tennis shoes because only my boys get the new shoes around here.  I know where I’m firmly planted, until one of the boys rummages into me and knocks me over.  

So, this new year I’m taking my boys under my wing and seeing them for the privilege they are.  I’m standing out as a mom who doesn’t know anything but will take on everything for them.  I stand hand in hand with my husband who takes this battle as seriously as I do.  Another thing the spirit has whispered in my heart is they will all turn out fine.  They have a daddy and a Heavenly Father  and a mother who loves them fiercely!