Maybe you’ve seen it before, or perhaps you’ve given out the look yourself — a look of trepidation and disbelief when you see a mom of all boys — like when you see me with all three of my boys, ages 7, 3, and 1. While moms of same-sex children tend to unite, there is also something about just being the mom of three boys that makes us understand one another.
The most surprising thing I’ve learned about what it’s like being the mom of three boys is something that was often said to me by a former colleague. As a fellow mom of three boys, she would say how interesting it is because we come to understand how the differences between our children are not based on gender as much as personality.
And it’s true. I get an up-close and personal look at how my boys are different. My eldest, Nathan, is active, curious, charming, funny, sharp, social, and sporty; my middle child, Tyler, is active, kind, giving, warm, brave, goofy, and affectionate; and from what we can tell so far about our youngest, Chase, he is strong, independent, athletic, silly, bright, outgoing, and adventurous.
But I will tell you what all three of my boys do have in common — they sure like to move and holler. A lot. And I think that just may be where the trepidation from strangers comes from. You think?
You see the hallways of my home become racetracks; in fact, so do the ledges of the tub or the placemats on the kitchen table. Come to think of it, everything and anything becomes a racetrack. And while racing in the basement or in the backyard is my preference, they don’t care.
Also, my boys tend to like to horseplay, or play fight, or wrestle, or beat each other up — whatever you like to call it. And as a mom of three boys, you need to learn the subtle difference between play “fighting” and real fighting. That’s about the time they start hitting one another in the head. And with that horseplay comes shrieking, yelling, screaming, cheering, and jeering — and a lot of popped Advils on my part.
Learning how to remain calm among the chaos is my lifelong lesson. These are the sounds of my home, and I suppose what is envisioned by those fearful of my life, like the mom of two boys who is expecting a third child. We were casually talking about how my sister and I both have three boys. I then piped up about how she may also have three boys, and she actually said, “Don’t curse me like that!” and went on to name moms who had a girl after two sons.
But let me tell you about what those moms don’t see.
They don’t see all of my boys literally falling off to sleep one by one, exhausted from the day, unable to open an eyelid or utter one more “vroom.” But somehow they have energy enough to say “I love you.”
They don’t see the hugs, goodnights, and cuddles of a loving boy at the end of an eventful day. They don’t see brothers hugging, playing hide-and-seek, or cheering one another on for small accomplishments or major milestones.
They don’t see the bond between brothers who simply need to look one another in the eye to know that the race is on.
They don’t see how I look upon that outfit passed on from one boy to the next and how I get to see who wore it best.
They don’t see how I have shelves upon shelves of T-shirts and sweaters, but no pants to hand down after all the banged-up knees. Or how very rarely do sneakers make it off their feet for another race around the track.
They don’t get to see the toys that have been shared and re-shared: Hot Wheels, Thomas the Train, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Lego Ninjago, Disney Cars, Transformers, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Beyblades, and Captain Underpants, or the sports and activities learned and relearned such as baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, and karate. And don’t forget bicycles, skateboards, and scooters.
There is something priceless about having a sibling who tends to share in activities — whether a boy or a girl, of course. But in my world, seeing how my 7-year-old son teaches his younger brothers something he has mastered is something special about having children of the same gender. You see, witnessing Lightning McQueen passed on from hand to hand has become how I measure time.
I’ve also learned that my boys tend to love all things fast. They do love all things outside. They do love all things trucks. They do love all things big. And while I have let them play with all things, including dolls and dress-up costumes, these are the things my boys have gravitated toward. So the fact that some of their first words were “ball” and “truck” is no coincidence. Of course, words like “book” were in there too. And I still get to see how although their personalities are different, which challenges gender roles, I also have witnessed how they generally share interests in the same toys and activities.
And while society likes to challenge my observations about my sons, those same individuals have no problems making comments about how my home is bereft of baby dolls, dresses, hairbands, and tap shoes. Once in a while, I get a comment about how sad it must be to not have a daughter to dress up in a pink, glittery dress or fancy shoes, or how disappointed I must feel not to drive my daughter to dance.
But, you see, that just isn’t my life. And it’s not even the life every mother of a girl has. How do you miss something you know nothing of? How do you miss something that caused you anxiety and discomfort when you were growing up as a daughter and a sister who didn’t fit the “girly-girl” stereotype. I can picture it now, being stuck at temple, shoved into some new dress and shoes that somehow defined me. How do you miss something you never did as a child yourself, such as dance, because you were more of an actress, a bike-rider, a swimmer, a camper, an adventurer, and a daydreamer?
I’m here to let you know I am okay with all of this. In fact, I am more than just okay — I am great. Isn’t that enough? The next time you see one of us at the park, just say hello, and I hope you can be happy for me.