I honestly and truly thought we'd outgrown this phase by now.
By "we," I mean the collective that encompasses myself and my three sons, ages 6, 4 and 2. I remember reading somewhere, probably on Diply or Buzzfeed or HuffPo, all super-reliable parenting resources, about how intense mother-son relationships could be but I never really gave it much thought until I had three of my own sons, each growing into their own, struggling with their desires for unrealistic independence, like wanting to use steak knives and cross the street without holding hands and cutting their own hair while desperately wanting me and only me to rub their backs before bed, cut up their dinner, buckle and unbuckle their car seats and in the 4 and under crowd, wipe their butts.
Yes, I still wipe my 4-year old's butt and the truth is, it's much better than the alternative of letting somebody with a short attention span and T-Rex-sized arms do a reach around in your newly cleaned bathroom with its illogical white shag bath mats and over-sized bath towels.
The truth is, it's really, really hard when you're the only one for the job. I move through most of my days feeling stretched all too thin tending to their emotional and physical needs. My husband, bless his heart, tries to fix things in only the way that the greatest of husbands can, by gently reminding me that in about 10 years, they'll want nothing to do with me and I'll just be that embarrassing mom who does too much and loves too hard. It's then that I'll want to grab them by their brawny shoulders and shake them all while saying things like, "You used to cry for me to wipe your butts!"
Sometimes I think to myself, "It's your own fault. You did this!" because the truth is, I'm the only one who knows how the baby likes his pillows arranged at bed time and I'm the only one who knows who likes the crust cut off their peanut butter sammiches and who will lost their shit if you cut it in half on the diagonal rather than down the middle. I'm the only one who puts the special cream (Aquaphor) on their chapped hands at night and covers them with the right fuzzy socks. It's me who lays out their school uniforms in just the right place on their dressers and I'm the one who knows how to rub their backs light enough to soothe but not too light that it sends them into fits of tickle-induced laughter. I do the different voices while reading bedtime books and that automatically makes me the Official and Only Reader of Bedtime Stories Ever. Apparently I'm also the most adept at wiping butts because clearly I'm the only one who knows how to fold the toilet paper.
I can't remember the last time my husband changed my two year old's diaper or hoisted him out of the bath tub and not because my husband hasn't tried or offered. He's a fantastic Dad and an incredible teammate on Team Parenthood, although I'm sure there were more than a few diapers he was more than happy to not be a part of. While I'm sure there are better ways to deal with our 2-year-old's irrational demands, rather than hear him scream bloody murder while he thrashes about in the bathtub threatening to break a leg and completely ruin my Friday night by an unexpected ER visit, it's easier to trudge upstairs, wrap him in a towel and hoist him out of the damn bath tub.
This season of motherhood feels like an endless string of asking little people to put on or clean up their shoes while simultaneously being interrupted every 11 seconds because someone hit someone, breathed in their general direction or bent the corner of their beloved Pokemon card. Sprinkle in several hundred "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOMs" shouted from the tops of lungs, five collective hours spent chauffeuring little people around in a car and there's my day in a nutshell.
While my days of feeling like a 24-hr. milk buffet are long behind me and I've slept through the night more times in the last two months than I haven't, I've entered into a whole new season of motherhood and it's kind of annoying. There, I said it. I love my kids so much that I often want to squeeze them until their little heads pop off but I am not nearly as cool and amazing and magical as they think I am. Their Dad is just as amazing at wiping butts and rubbing backs and squirting ketchup onto their plates as I am. Trust me on this one.
I know. I know in five years I could come back here and write a post through tears about how I miss the days when my kids needed me, their little hands reaching out for me, for just one more kiss, one more back scratch, one more story and there's a good chance I might even come back here to write that post, maybe even sooner than that- but sometimes?
Sometimes it's really difficult to be the only one for the job.
We were in Walmart when it happened. Because isn't Walmart where the best stories take place? More specifically, we were in the hair care aisle trying our hardest to find a purple shampoo to act as a stand-in until my go-to brand arrived in the mail.
If you're a faux-blonde like me, you know that even one wash with well water without your trusty purple shampoo can do bad, bad things to your hair and having just had fresh highlights I wasn't about to let the brass monsters come creeping in. Mama ain't got time for that!
I digress. Where was I? Oh, right there in the hair care aisle at Walmart with all three members of my man-tribe in tow. Only one of them was buckled giving the other two free reign to pick up every. single. bottle with any hint of purple writing on it and yell, "IS THIS ONE, MOM?"
That's when I heard it.
"Three boys, huh? Aww..."
It was the "aww" that caught me off guard. As a seasoned mom of three boys, I knew immediately where this conversation was headed. Usually I just laugh and smile and if I'm feeling particularly prickly, before they can say it themselves, I tell them how full my hands are. You can imagine my surprise however, when I turned to find another young-ish mother staring back at me, her boy/girl twins watching a movie on her iPhone from within the large basket of her cart. I was surprised to see one of my own staring back at me and if we're being honest, a little disappointed too.
I laughed and said, "yep, three boys!" And in an attempt to add levity to the situation, I quickly followed up with, "I really should be shopping for Clorox- who knew there could be so much pee on bathroom walls?!"
She didn't laugh, perhaps because her son didn't look old enough to be out of diapers or perhaps she just wasn't feeling my wholehearted attempt at being funny that day.
I shrugged my shoulders and turned just in time to catch several Lightening McQueen bubble bath bottles from meeting their demise as my two-year-old teetered precariously from the cart trying to grab as many as he could and hurl them into the cart. It was time to give up the hunt and get moving.
"But you won't get to do dance classes... or Girl Scouts! Don't you want just one more and hope that it's a girl?"
I completely understand that 85% of these comments come from well-meaning places. I'm a girl therefore I must want more like me! Girls are the best, I should know, I'm one myself. What could I possibly have in common with something that has a penis and will eventually grow up and leave me for another woman? Or man, even? (Hey, it's 2017 folks...)
In my experience these comments usually come from mothers with young girls. Rarely have I ever had a fellow mother of all boys turn to me and say something like, "I wish one of them had been a girl!" even in jest.
I've learned that mothers of all boys are a special kind of crazy and I'm honored to be a part of a club full of sword fights (moms of boys know what kind of swords I'm talking about) and bathrooms that will forever smell like NYC subways and I get it! We're kind of like an enigma. As women, why wouldn't we want to raise someone with whom we could braid their hair and paint their nails and sit through 8 hours of dance recitals on our Saturdays with?
Let me let you in on a little secret. My identity isn't suddenly lost on me because I'm the mother of all boys. I'm not any less "girl" because I'm not raising a daughter and as far as I know, a little piece of me hasn't died because I can't braid my son's hair or paint his nails or go shopping with him for prom dresses.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I do not feel as if I'm missing out on ANYTHING when it comes to being a mother solely because I'm a mother to only boys and you shouldn't either. Please, please do not have pity on me or feel sad for me because of what you think I'm missing out on. I promise you that these three boys bring me more joy than I ever thought imaginable and mothering them, in all of their testosterone-fueled glory is right where I'm meant to be.
Do I tell her that when I found out my third and final baby was a boy that of course I felt a twinge of sadness and mourned right then and there the fact that I would never experience the kind of mother/daughter relationship that I have with my own mother that has brought me so much joy or is that a silly conversation to have among rows and rows of shampoo and conditioner?
I wasn't sure if I should excuse myself and pretend I didn't hear her, or if maybe I should tell her how there's so many other things that I'll get to enjoy as a mother of all boys. Or maybe I should just turn and bolt because that wouldn't be at all awkward, right?
Before I could say anything, however, a little voice arose from beside me.
"I yike to dance. Wook at her butt!"
And then another,
"My mom's a girl, She's my best girl."
"My mom's got her hands full with me and my brothers. She'd go crazy with another kid!"
- - - - -
I'd never been more proud of my three boys than I had been in that exact moment. You know, I worry a lot about what they're hearing when someone says something like "you gonna try for a girl now?" It hurts my heart to think that they'll internalize that and feel as if they're not enough. As if I could ever wish them to be anyone other than who they are. As if they're parts or lack thereof make a difference to me.
It was in that exact moment I realized I couldn't have said it any better myself.
- - - - -
I laughed. "Nope. These three right here are more than enough for me," I said with a smile and as I turned to walk away my six year old stops me in my tracks, high-fives me and says, "how's that for being on team Mom?"
One of our most favorite children's clothing brands just released their Spring line and it's chock full of the cutest, most totally rad rescue and superhero prints! In honor of the release, we're dressing up in some their funnest, most colorful threads and sharing two SUPER fun (get it, super) activities you can easily do at home with your own super savers of the day.
First up, Color Your Own Superhero Masks. While we have no shortage of superhero capes and masks in our dress up arsenal, sometimes you just can't beat a homemade mask and pillowcase cape. I always try to keep a stash of these superhero masks (found on Amazon) tucked away for a snowy day and they never fail to entertain. The kids love to put their own spin on their costumed character and if we're feeling really adventurous, I'll even let them bust out the feathers, glue and glitter.
All of their hard handiwork often results in extreme hunger so what's more fitting for a trio of superheros than POW! Popcorn? This sweet superhero snack is made using only three ingredients and chances are you probably have most of them on hand! Just toss together freshly popped popcorn with a handful each of sprinkles and M&M's and in no time, your clever superheros will be fueled up and ready to fight inter-sibling crime. After all, somebody's gotta be the to lay the law down on those guilty of leaving the toilet seat up! Bonus points if your popcorn matches the uniform of your favorite SUPERhero!
The celebration isn't over yet- we've joined forces with a whole host of other Boden-clad cuties to offer one lucky reader a $500 Boden Gift Card! Be sure to head all the way to the bottom of this post for entry as well as the details for all of the clothing pieces seen in this post. A big, huge thanks to our friends at Boden for this opportunity!