What my sons have taught me
As a pig-tailed girl on the prairie, I had dreams. Where the Indians once roamed and buffaloes wallowed, I played with my dolls, and I dreamt.
I dreamt of a handsome knight in shining armor, sweeping up on a white horse. In a haze of bliss, the stomping of hooves, and a fevered whinny, he would whisk me away to the land of Happily Ever After. There, we would live on love alone. Love, and a nice, even mix of sons and daughters. Such were my girlish dreams.
Then I grew up. The knight who appeared was handsome, alright. He had blue eyes and blue jeans, and his “horse” was an Oldsmobile, a diesel that froze up in the winter.
It turned out that Happily Ever After had some other surprises, too, including a mortgage, car payments, and college loans. These hadn’t appeared in my dreams. And that nice, even mix? Three boys in, I saw the handwriting, and by the time the fourth one hit the chute, I scratched out the “even” part of the clause with a Sharpie and wearily initialed the “nice.”
Funny, how life turns out. For in my childhood daydreams, I knew that as a mother, I would be the teacher of my children. What I could not know is how much my children would teach me. Now, 31 years of mothering later, here are some things I have learned.
Male children are food furnaces thinly disguised as boys. They actually get hungry from eating. A mother can use this. When the peasants are revolting, tossing homemade chocolate-chip cookies into the howling mob will buy you a good three minutes of peace, five if you add a glass of milk.
Boys will talk in a moving car. I cannot explain it, but it’s true. Something about the open road makes ‘em sing like canaries, telling you things they won’t say across the table. If there’s a serious topic that needs to be addressed, keep it above 35 mph. They can’t jump, and you’ll have time to make your point. I know this for a fact.
Boys feel loved after a heated chase or a good thumping. Suggesting the use of words to express their emotions will be met with eye rolls and a loud belch. Which precipitates fist bumps, high fives, and another chase. All of this is white noise for a mother.
The dirt with which boys, um, decorate the house is a fact of life. After laundering enough blue jeans to circle the planet twice, I’ve learned that I can see it as a nuisance, or I can remember how quickly the owners of the jeans grow up and move away. This knowing makes me grateful, and that’s a gift.
My sons have taught me to be unselfish. They’ve taught me the great need for prayer and the power that’s found in it. They have demonstrated an eager readiness to forgive when I’ve blown it, and they’ve been quick to ask forgiveness when they’ve blown it.
Mothering four children has given me many opportunities for growth in faith. When one of our sons spiraled into drug addiction, I learned that God truly could be trusted with everything; that I could put this one fully into His hands and leave him there. Now he is on a path to redemption, the visible proof of the faithfulness of the One Who made him. What a gift. I’m so grateful.
Thankfully, I know now that what my sons didn’t need was a perfect parent, but a mother who was in tune with the perfect Parent. I’ve learned that it’s okay to let them fail, that it’s okay for me to fail, and that love covers a multitude of sins. I’m so glad I learned that, too.
Happy Mother’s Day!