Labor and delivery nurses. They come in and out all hours of the day and night. They prod. They listen. They pressure check. They push down hard on your lower abdomen. (By the way, this was a surprise to me too. Nowhere in the baby books did it say someone would come in after the baby is actually OUT and push down hard on your belly, making whatever didn’t come out with baby avalanche down between your legs. Brace yourself, gauze panties and canoe-sized maxi pad.)
Those nurses then bounce in to teach you how to check your son’s temperature or how to give him his first bath. They show you football holds, side lying positions, cradle holds, latches, swaddling, burping and changing. Those first few hours after delivery it’s practically Newborn Son University, with your matriculation march disguised as your nurse rolling the new graduate and her tiny blue bundle out the hospital doors.
And then the real education begins.
Listen, I’ve given birth to four sons. And I can assure you the last thing I needed to learn how to do in the hospital was how to give my son a bath. But after birthing multiple boys? I can think of a whole new slew of ‘classes’ hospitals should offer to all boy moms, because there is some serious shit you’re gonna need to know. Why not give boy moms some sort of all-day educational boy immersion, where you get to learn how to redo everything in your life that is about to get undone? Like these …
1. How to assemble, disassemble, and reassemble anything and everything.
This goes way beyond just Legos, folks. But in the event you happen to be pregnant with your first boy, do yourself a favor. Skip Lamaze class tonight and instead, go with the hubs to buy a Lego set, preferably with a minimum of 250 pieces. Now dump them all over the floor. Pick up a handful and throw them in the trash. Pick up another handful and scatter them like Hansel and Gretel from your bedside to the toilet, for fun later when you have to go pee in the dark.
Now calmly and cooperatively you two lovebirds put that emergency vehicle and helicopter set together exactly like the damn picture. Now take it apart, throw out the directions, and reassemble it again exactly the same way in about six months.
I could have used a couple hours with a team of mechanical engineers showing me the quick and dirty of how to put a cable TV box back together, how to take apart the garbage disposal to remove a Hot Wheels car, and how to take apart and put back together any and every type of toy, large or small, that flies, drives, floats, rolls, spins, pushes, pulls, or swings. Because at one point they will all either fall apart, accidentally come apart, or be thrown against the wall and intentionally … you guessed it … COME APART.
And guess who puts them back together? The same mom who can figure out in a five-second Google search where to stick the damn infant thermometer. Now can we please have assembly class instead?
2. How to give a basic boy’s haircut.
Two boys in, I figured this out myself, but it would have been better if the local cosmetology school had stopped by and briefly explained that electric clippers have a number on them for a reason. Big number, longer trim, small number, welcome to boot camp son. Regardless, I taught myself how to trim everyone’s hair (including my husband’s).
I’m no mathematician, but four boys x haircuts every six weeks x plenty of years = crazy amount of $$$ saved, and nobody giving me shit about how much I spend at Target on capri pants. By the way, my haircut set totally came with an instructional video. I’m sure if I had watched it, it would have mentioned the numbered attachment thingies.
3. Stitches 101.
I have been sewing since I was a teenager. Clothes, quilts, curtains, you name it. So I can guarantee you that putting back together a two-inch straight slit on the back of a head with a needle and thread does not require four years of medical school plus residency. Hey hospitals, why not keep your cans of formula and instead send the boy moms home with a big old tube of Lidocaine, some sterile needles and thread, and a case of butterfly bandages? While you’re at it, give us a lesson on when stitches are actually necessary or when Dermabond can hold that gash together.
Let’s help moms and dads everywhere save an ER co-pay, the five wasted hours spent in the waiting room, and the huge argument about whose turn it is to go to the hospital right after that boy’s chin split open.
Bonus class – come in a few years later when they start climbing everything and get bone setting basics. Seriously, I’ve used Mod Podge and have done paper maché. How tough could an arm cast be?
4. Toilet repair.
This goes way beyond Drano, plunger, and toilet snake use. I’m talking about learning how to remove the caps, unscrew the bolts, break the seal, and yank that sucker right out of the floor so you can remove what the 3, 5, and 8-year-old flushed down there.
Oh, and to the plumber I had to hire years ago, who charged me $300, spent an hour berating me on the dangers of flushing feminine hygiene products down the toilet, only to find the Thomas the Train engine car I told him earlier one of my sons had flushed, thus causing the problem? Look at me. I’m hugely pregnant. And before this belly I was nursing the curious toddler who flushed that effing train, and before that HE was in this stomach. So, uhhhhh, I haven’t seen a maxi pad in about five years. Hey captain obvious plumber … THAT’S WHY I WAS SURE IT WAS A TRAIN!! That day from flushing hell all could have been prevented with a simple visit from the hospital’s maintenance man in lieu of the lactation consultant.
5. Private part vocabulary 101.
Good Lord, ohhhh my girly naiveté. Before I had boys, I thought there were only three names for their parts, the medically recognized “penis” and those other two that rhyme with sick. It has taken almost two decades for me to fully grasp and learn all the names that boys, teens, and men will call their man muscle. Why nobody tucked in a penile vocab list with my newborn son’s discharge papers is beyond me.
Thanks for no heads up on “My magic johnson, meat popsicle, salami, dipstick, one-eyed snake, doinker, captain winky, frank ‘n beans, tan banana, king dong, and wee willie winky.” Whatever the hell you call it, can you not always have one hand on “it” and the other on the TV remote?
6. Extra credit.
When all the above lectures have been given, homework completed, and you think you are duly prepared for mothering sons, here are a few other things you are going to need to learn to how to do:
Tie a tie. While riding in the car, backwards, and speeding because you are late for church.
Put out fires. Not in your kitchen toaster but outside on the driveway, in the backyard, inside the car, up in a tree, on a boat, on the roof, and wherever else boys go hide when they want to try out that experiment they saw on Mythbusters.
Loading the grocery cart, Tetris style. You’re gonna be buying an epic amount of food, and pushing around two carts is just a pain in the ass. Learn how to stuff $300 worth of food in one cart.
Button and zipper repairs. This could be the second hour of #3. Be prepared for your boys to be button poppers and zipper breakers as they grow Incredible Hulk-style during the teen years.
How to play poker. They will want to gamble with cards. All the time. Trust me, it’s in their DNA. Just teach yourself, then take all their money. It’s fun. I promise.
Being the queen of the castle. This will actually come easily and is much deserved. Take it with grace, and enjoy the hell out of it, because soon enough the house will be crawling with girlfriends who will be trying to replace the irreplaceable YOU.
Which reminds me? When does mother-in-law-ing class start?
This article was originally published on