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10 Brutal Truths About Being a Boy Mom

mother with her son, cooking

When people found out that I was going to be a boy mom, they hit me with all the clichés.

“Get ready. You won’t have a chance to rest for the first four years.”

“It’s a good thing you had a girl first. Girls are more responsible than boys.”

“Better start stocking up on food. Boys eat everything in sight.”

Boy moms are typically mothers of a boy or of only boys. By that definition, I am only half a boy mom as my older child is a girl. Nevertheless, if I believed all the unsolicited advice I got during my second pregnancy, I’d have spent it thinking I’d be giving birth not to a boy but to the Tasmanian Devil. As things turned out, it wasn’t entirely inaccurate.

As a toddler, my son ate everything; earthworms and bits of paper were his early gustatory experiments. He also got into so many scrapes—from accidentally injuring his eye with his finger to side-swiping a tree while riding his skateboard—that by the time he was nine years old, we were on a first-name basis with the emergency room staff at the hospital.

Beyond all that, however, was a little man who was—and still is—as sweet as ever. Moms of boys know this fact well: when you’re raising a boy, every day you run the gamut of emotions known to humankind.

This is just one of the truths that moms with boys experience. Here are the other 10:

A boy mom plays with one of her sons in her arms and another on the floor beside her

Moms with boys get lots of exercise

Before I became a mom, I silently judged parents who used a child harness to keep their kids within reach out in public.

But I shimmied right down from my high horse the first time we took our toddler son to a mall without his stroller. It didn’t matter that his legs were short; they just never seemed to get tired of running. Worse, the more we called for him to come back, the faster those legs ran away from us.

So that’s why those parents used child harnesses. I never got one, but I finally understood why some would think they were a necessity.

Studies have found that, generally, males of all ages are more physically active than their female counterparts. And since toddlers speed through growth and development with a hefty dose of curiosity, you can imagine the amount of energy going through a little boy’s system.

Wish more power, then, to the hapless mom trying to keep up with her troop of high-energy boys.

A boy mom in a red sweater changes the diaper of her son, who's wearing black mittens with white print

A boy mom is an expert pee stain remover

In a vulnerable moment, a friend who had just had twin boys, moaned to me, “They’re like eternal fountains of pee.” Whenever she would change her twins’ diapers, more often than not, they would urinate again while being changed, spraying nearby spots while soaking their brand-new diapers. Pee stains were everywhere.

Within a week of this discovery, though, my friend and her partner had built up a cleaning arsenal that could rival a hospital’s. They stocked up on white cleaning vinegar, baking soda, and liquid laundry detergent. Then they set up their changing table at a spot away from any upholstery, devices, and electrical outlets.

If pee-related accidents still happened, as they will, the twins’ parents attacked the stains with 100-percent confidence.

A mom puts bandages on a wound on her son's knee

A mom of boys has to know first aid

In fact, any parent needs first aid knowledge. Kids, especially little boys with their extra energy, get into all sorts of accidents. And it’s these children’s caregivers who are usually the first responders before the real ones (a.k.a. healthcare workers) take over. In early 2020, a study found that 66 percent of the adults tasked to take care of their children were mothers.

Yes, boy mom, it’s time to brush up on your first aid. Remember, though, that emergency care for babies and children is slightly different from what is administered to adults. Children’s bodies are still developing; that’s why extra care is needed.

Are you a boy mom who needs to brush up on her first aid? The Red Cross gives first aid classes online. If you don’t have time for this, though, there’s a guide that you can review regularly and print out for everyone else in your family to read. I also always carried one of these in my bag.

A boy in a blue t-shirt looks to his right while picking his nose.

A mom raising boys knows that the grosser you are, the cooler you get

I was cleaning my son’s room once when he was seven and found a matchbox in his underwear drawer. Inside were what looked like black sesame seeds. Upon investigation, I found out that the seeds were, in fact, boogers that belonged to my son and his friends.

“It’s our booger collection,” he told me proudly. “I had the biggest one so I got to take the box home.”

Aside from collecting boogers, my son and his friends also found loud burps gloriously funny. At a sleepover, they supposedly had a contest about who could talk with food in their mouth without anything spilling out.

To answer your question, no, it looks like this fascination for grossness doesn’t go away. It just evolves. My son and his best friend are 13 now. On a drive once, my son informed me of this article he read about flatulence. He said that the hydrogen sulfide it contains can help our cells protect themselves from disease. And then he proceeded to give himself, his friend, and me a dose of hydrogen sulfide for our health.

A pre-teen boy wearing glasses and a suit smiles at the camera

Every day, a boy mom adjusts her fashion expectations for her sons

If he could, my son—a tropical beach boy through and through—would never wear shirts or shoes. His cousins, both boys, went through a phase where they wore their T-shirts inside-out every day. Boy moms at the pick-up line in school share similar stories about their sons’ odd fashion sense.

Unanimously, we agreed that all we could do was make sure our sons’ clothes—whichever ones they chose to wear—were clean.

Now, this article from the Gentleman’s Journal lists 20 items that should be in every man’s wardrobe. Let me pare it down for our little sons for when they start wanting to dress up more presentably.

It would be a good idea to have the following pieces in your boys’ closet: T-shirts that fit well, a comfortable pair of jeans, shorts that don’t reach the knee, a jacket, a well-tailored suit, black leather shoes that don’t pinch, sneakers, and a backpack.

A boy lies on the floor, crying in pain while clutching his elbow while another boy stands over him.

The synonym for “boy mom” is “referee”

In a house where there’s more than one child, it’s normal for siblings to fight. Whether for parental attention, getting dibs on the Playstation, or just because they’re bored, squabbles at home are expected.

The thing is, because boys are generally more competitive and physical than girls, their arguments often end up as wrestling or boxing matches. And mom becomes the begrudging referee.

Here are some good news for you, boy mom: you don’t have to be the eternal arbiter of sibling fights. If your boys are still toddlers, it’s the perfect time to inculcate in them some sibling love. If they’re a little older, find some natural ways to expend their energy so they don’t use it to fight their brothers.

Mediating becomes tricky when your sons are in their teens. You can’t pull these giants apart; neither can you bodily carry them to opposite corners of the house for a timeout. What you can do is appeal to reason. Nature has been scientifically proven to calm people down. So before the argument escalates, suggest that all parties go outside and take a deep breath, for starters. Just that rush of fresh air hitting their lungs might already make them wonder what they were so angry about in the first place.

Two school-age boys make silly faces at the camera

For a boy mom, formal occasions can never be completely solemn

When my son was three, our whole family attended my cousin’s wedding. Both my children were part of the entourage; my son was the ring bearer. He solemnly marched up the aisle just as we practiced the night before. It was perfect until it wasn’t.

When he reached the priest, my son turned to face the congregation. With an impish grin, he passed gas, which was amplified by the church’s impressive acoustics. The quartet playing “Canon in D” was drowned out by the people’s laughter.

He may have done it for the attention; he might have done it just for laughs. But what was plain to see was that his parents (half of whom was me) needed to establish some rules about formal events.

There are several positive discipline strategies boy moms can use to lay down the law. Setting expectations before any event is key. Will you be attending a formal gathering any time soon? Let your boys know how you expect them to behave. Follow that up with the consequences wrong choices would bring. And remember to do it all with love.

A pre-teen boy wears headphones while sitting at a desk in front of a gaming computer and eating pizza and chips.

A boy mom buys food as if she were feeding an army

Before I became a mom, I spent an afternoon babysitting my 12-year-old twin godsons at my house. I prepared for their visit by “loading up” on food: a bag of chips, a couple of PB&J sandwiches, and some ice cream. I thought that was enough food for four hours. The twins gobbled it all up in 15 minutes.

Bulk buying is the way to go when you’re feeding a household of growing boys, especially if they’re teenagers. With their quick metabolism and growth spurts, boys can finish off a whole loaf of bread and call it a light snack.

Sure, it can be costly having to buy all that food. But on the brighter side, you can take this as an opportunity to boost your boys’ health. For their snacks, stock up on yogurt, granola, eggs, nuts, whole-grain bread, fruits, vegetables to make into smoothies, and low-fat cheese. Alter your approach a bit if your boys are picky eaters. But follow the same principle: make eating healthy the easiest option.

A boy, with chocolate spread on his face, smears the same spread on his white t-shirt.

“Shower. Now,” is a frequent reminder in a boy mom’s house

Okay, okay; it’s a reminder in any teenager’s house. When they’re younger, it isn’t a big deal for kids to skip showers for days. Once puberty hits, however, all the bodily changes make skipped showers malodorously obvious.

There are a couple reasons why young people may lack personal hygiene. For one, they could still be adjusting to the constant changes their bodies are going through. After all, they already have to deal with unfamiliar thoughts and feelings. If you add to that the chore of having to keep their body clean, then it may get overwhelming for some.

Another reason could be all the distractions that hound kids: school, friends, social media, video games, sports, etc. The unexciting tasks of taking a bath and brushing teeth don’t belong in the priority list.

You just have to keep reminding your boys about the necessity of personal hygiene.

Stay alert, though, mom, for signals of mental stress. Not caring about one’s hygiene could be a sign of depression. If it comes with other symptoms, such as sudden withdrawal from friends and a lack of interest in hobbies, you might want to consult a professional.

Otherwise, if your pubescent boys avoid the shower just because they can, take my advice: weather permitting, keep the car windows open when you take a long drive with them.

Mom and her teen son sit beside each other; mom is trying to talk to her son but he's smirking and not looking at her

Moms with sons are experts at holding one-sided conversations

When my son was three, he wouldn’t stop talking. But when he turned 13, it was as if his well of words had dried up. He had suddenly put his parents on a need-to-know arrangement. If he were feeling especially verbose, he would reward us with a complete sentence. Otherwise, monosyllables and grunts were his go-to replies to my questions.

I still keep asking them, anyway, because that’s my job as his mom.

Psychologists say that’s the right move, too. When adolescents start keeping more things to themselves, it’s not usually because they’ve stopped loving their parents. It’s just their way of moving into their independence. They’re coming into their own. There’s no longer a need for them to share every thought they have with their parents. And it’s completely normal.

The questions about his interests are working, though. Yesterday, my son and I had a full conversation about pineapples on pizzas. He’s realizing he can still be his own person while sharing his thoughts with me. All is well.

The bottom line

Being a boy mom is one of the happiest things I have going on. I would choose it over and over again, and even overlook the booger collections, strange odors, food miraculously disappearing, and aching back. Because sometimes, out of the blue, there is a boy who comes to me just to give me a long, wordless hug. And that makes everything worth it.

How about you, boy mom? What’s your favorite thing about raising your boys?

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