Tuesday, June 14, 2016

7 Things I’ve Discovered From 7 Years of Raising Boys

During my younger years, boys have always been a foreign species to me. Being an only child raised by a single mum who enrolled me in an all-girls school until I turned 18, my exposure to the XY gene pool has been somewhat limited. In my teens, I struggled to make friends with the opposite sex. Men always seemed complicated and unpredictable so I stayed away, until I found love in the eyes of my husband.

Pregnant with my first child, I imagined parenthood to be similar to my experience growing up. A nursery filled with stuffed teddy bears, decorated in the loveliest hues of pink. Tea parties, cupcakes and tutus. Ballet classes and Girl Scout jamborees. Shopping dates and bonding over facials and manicures. I was so confident that I wouldn’t be carrying a boy. Surely God wouldn’t do that to him since I am no expert in handling one.

A trip to the gynecologist changed that opinion overnight. Aiden decided to show his manhood on the ultrasound screen and my dreams of delicate pink skirts and adorned headbands slowly shifted to preppy jeans and overalls in the shades of bright blue and red. Four years later, Ian dashed those hopes once again. Shamelessly, I cried for the mother-daughter relationship I knew I would never have. In my conversations with God, I questioned why he decided to challenge me so. But in the end, I made peace. And just as when I first cradled Aiden in my arms, I welcomed Ian with the same intense and fierce love that only a mother can muster after going through 5 hours of labour.

Raising boys can be a bit rough and tumble, and sometimes I wonder what to do with these rowdy, smelly, mischievous little scamps. But underneath the loud and cheeky demeanor, they are sweet loving boys who love me completely, unconditionally and unabashedly. (Daddy’s monster, Mummy’s boy!)

My first born just turned 7 last month. So brush aside those toys and pull up a chair, as I share with you the 7 things that I’ve discovered from my 7 years of raising boys.

1. Boys don’t stop moving. It’s insane how much stores of energy they have, and how they are absolutely intent on using every ounce of it. From the moment they jump into your bed at 6 in the morning until they flop and doze off at bedtime, they just don’t stop. Something as innocent as a cuddle between two brothers, may turn into a full on wrestling match in mere seconds. Get used to becoming the referee. And when you’re not looking, they will whack and thump each other for no apparent reason. Keeping them busy is probably your best bet at keeping your sanity. Expect a trip to the Emergency Room at least once in their lifetime.

2. Boys are loud. Why, even their bodily functions are loud! Rowdy and rambunctious, boys speak with a high decibel even when you’re just two feet away. You will strain your vocal chords more often than not just to be heard. In all irony, they are incredibly loud but in turn they don’t listen. You will have to repeat yourself at least three times to get his attention. Most days, you will feel like a broken record.

3. Meet the toy line up. There will be planes, trains, automobiles and more. Their boyish obsession will change in a specific order according to their development age; a ball, vehicle with wheels, Legos and puzzles, dragons and dinosaurs, action heroes and Nerf guns. Those gender neutral toys you bought won’t even stand a chance. Boys are just hardwired that way.

4. Boys destroy. One of the most common misconceptions people have about boys is that they destroy everything in their sight for fun. Heck, they would even build a pillow fort just for the satisfaction of destroying it afterwards. This destructive trait is actually due to their physical curiosity. When exploring something new, their natural incline is to smack it, toss it, pinch it, hurl it, and if all fails - eat it. Compliance and quiet observations just won’t cut it. Once, in the spirit of biology experimentation, I found my boys cracking a tray of eggs on the kitchen floor. They claimed that they wanted to pat the ‘baby chicken’. Pray tell, how can you punish such inquisitive children?

5. Shopping will be a breeze. They don’t care about what they wear, so dressing them up will be super easy. Choose between a shirt and a tee. Then match with jeans or shorts. Rather than going green in envy at the adorable dresses, shoes and accessories in the girls department, I make my shopping trips more interesting by buying matching clothes for my two boys. Oh, and the money I would have spent from the temptation of buying a sizable wardrobe for a daughter? Those ‘savings’ now supplement my shopping trips for my own clothes!

6. Boys do cry. Whoever said that boys don’t cry probably had daughters. Boys will cry when they are upset, and it is perfectly acceptable to validate the expression. Despite what society projects upon the male species, boys have the same sensitivity and empathy as their sisters. A hug, cuddle or snuggle is always the best cure-it-all for those meltdown moments.

7. Boys love their mummies. I’ve said this already but I’ll say it again. Sure, they’ll hunt for Daddy when it is play time. But mummies get the upper hand when it comes down to the mother-son bond. Their love for mummy is sincere, strong and consistent. I still remember that one time when Aiden came home with a ‘flower’ he plucked on his way home from school. (It was a piece of weed.) He thrust it into the palm of my hand, draped his tiny arms around me for a huge hug, and said “Mummy, you’re beautiful”. My heart melted. (And Daddy can only dream of receiving the same treatment!)

As I muddle through this journey with my husband and my two boys, I often wonder whether I’ve done my best for them. At times it feels as if I’m just making it up as I go. At the end of the day, motherhood is both a learning experience and a surviving experience for everyone. And I would never trade those noisy, hilarious and heartwarming memories with anything in the world.

Sometimes I reminisce about how I was petrified of the prospect of raising boys. Only to then want them and love them with all my heart and soul. How I managed a complete 360 degree emotional flip is still a mystery to me. But God doesn’t always give us what we want. He knows what’s best for us far better than we do, so in turn he gives us what we need.

And this “best” for me, was my boys.

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