Cluelessly Mothering Boys

by Liesl Testwuide
Originally Published: 
Four boys seated in a van, wearing blue soccer jerseys paired with yellow shorts and blue socks, and...

As a young girl, I dreamed I’d someday be the mother of two demure daughters. I’d dress them in pink Polly Flinders dresses, white tights and black patent leather shoes. Quietly they’d play for hours, my two little angels, with Dressy Bessy and Mrs. Beasley. In my fantasy, we’d shop for the Barbie Townhouse, sell Girl Scout cookies, discuss Nancy Drew mysteries and debate which Hardy boy, Frank or Joe, was the cutest.

But then I gave birth to three boys.

I’ll be honest, my romantic childhood fantasies of motherhood never included:

Buying Shout, Gatorade, and Goober by the case.

Falling into the toilet bowl…repeatedly. Washing urine off the walls, seriously guys, still? Stepping on piles of seemingly innocuous, yet unimaginably painful teeny, tiny Lego pieces. Yep, just one outfit needed.

However, I have learned there are definite advantages to only having boys:

I never have leftovers.

No one begs to wear a shirt that shows his belly. Packing for summer camp is a breeze: they wear the same clothes every single day. I never have to deal with the chaos in boys’ locker rooms. And when friends come to my not-so-perfect house, I can shrug my shoulders, toss up my hands and say, “Well, you know, I live with three boys and a St. Bernard. Whaddya expect?” But don’t be fooled by the glamorous picture I have painted. Being a single mother of three boys has its challenges, too. Underwear issues continue to be a struggle.

Early on, the boys got in the habit of hanging around the house naked. They’d jump up and down for hours playing Wii tennis, completely in the nude. They’d plop their bare fannies on the kitchen stools and ask, “Hey! What’s for food?” Mesmerized by cartoons on TV, they’d unknowingly stand with their backsides in the picture window, rocking side to side, as cars whizzed by. Finally I laid down the law: “No underwear, no Wii.” “No underwear, no tree-climbing.” “No underwear, no zip line.”

When my youngest attended a week of summer day camp, we discussed the importance of coming home in his own underwear, not someone else’s. It seems boys in a hurry claim the closest pair on the floor. Today that same child will still bring home wet, orphaned underwear he finds in locker rooms, at sleepovers or worse, waterparks. He clearly has a heart of gold, but I just can’t take in any more strays.

When my middle son was 9, he wanted a pair of Under Armour brand underwear for basketball. I learned these were basically Spanx for boys to hold everything together. And since I don’t like to jiggle either, I was on board.

After the purchase, he proudly modeled the tight shorts and announced, “Check it out…there’s a pocket– right here in the front!” And as he said it, he shoved his hand deep into the pocket, and like a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat, revealed a semi-melted Chapstick and said “Tah- dah!” I was impressed and added, “Since your basketball shorts have no pockets, you could keep a couple bucks down there, too.”

My youngest weighed in, “Yeah, but wouldn’t that be weird to be at, like McDonald’s, and be 50 cents short for your fries, and then say, ‘Hold on, I’ve got 2 more quarters in my underwear? I’ve just gotta dig for it?'”

“Oh. My. God!” roared my 12-year-old from the other room. “You guys are such idiots! The pocket is for a cup, you dorks, a cup for your nuts, your balls, the jewels, ya know?” Wow – a cup just never crossed this single mom’s mind.

For soccer, my son needed a pair of compression shorts – which are basically super tight underwear. At the store without my glasses, I asked for help from a gangly teen who wore his pants so low his Batman boxers were visible to the whole store.

“How do I know which pair he needs?” I asked. “Well,” Boy Wonderwear briefed me, “these compression shorts are designed for protection and sized for a guy that needs a six inch or a nine inch.”

“Oh,” I stammered, “I, um, have no idea. He’s in 4th grade. A big kid – just moved into the husky sizes. But…. six or nine inches…I mean, I know it’s been a while since I’ve seen a live one, but–”

“Ma’am,” said Captain Underpants, “I’m referring to the inseam. Six or nine inch inseam.”


No doubt raising three boys as a single mom has it challenges, but to my surprise, I think I have the overall advantage. The truth is, as the mother of three boys, I feel blessed to only have to worry about three penises in the world. Mothers of girls need to worry about ALL the penises in the world. So buying Goober by the case doesn’t seem so bad after all.

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