Reflections on raising boys

I sure didn't have slippers like this when I was a kid.  (And wow, we really need to sweep.)

I sure didn’t have slippers like this when I was a kid. (And wow, we REALLY need to sweep.)


Sometimes I think God must be chortling at the fact that a ballet-dancing, paper-doll collecting, tea-party loving, utterly unathletic little girl like me grew up to have two man-children.

It’s all new to me,  boys and their energy and their interests.  I never had a brother, or any male cousins whom I saw on a regular basis, so the learning curve has been immense.

It goes without saying that I would not trade my precious little boys for anyone or anything.   That doesn’t mean that I don’t get kind of bummed out that we never spend any time in the doll department of the toystore .  Every now and then I look at my boxed sets of  Ginghams paper dolls, kept  with the idea that I’d one day have a little girl much like myself who would love to play with them, and I realize how much my mothering reality is different from what I’d always somehow thought it would be.   Though the boys have found some of my old childhood toys engaging, such as the two bunk beds my mom made for my Cabbage Patch dolls (and which she still has at the house), they always manage to put a boys’ stamp on them (for example, evicting the dolls in favor of monsters).


But if life is about stretching ourselves and embracing new experiences, I’m doing that daily with my boys.  It’s not just that our house is filled with toys that I would never have wanted to play with myself as a child.  It’s that my boys are introducing me to new experiences that I surely would never have had without them.  These experiences are changing me, as experiences tend to do.

For instance, I’m a more knowledgeable person for learning to tell the difference between Thomas the Tank engine toys, a more appreciative person for reading bedtime stories that celebrate the wonders of construction vehicles (I never thought about it before, but they are very cool).  I’m learning humility by going outside and tossing a football on the lawn, given that I’ve never yet been able to keep it from wobbling end over end.   The boys are far more active than I was as a kid, so I’m developing soccer skills I never had.  I’m even growing in my knowledge of pop culture through the boys’  love of Legos and superheroes.

This could have happened with daughters, too; even if I’d had one, there are no guarantees she’d have loved the things I loved.  But  what I can say for sure from my own life these last seven years is that having boys has stretched my horizons. It has also stretched my muscles, and my mind.  Every day, I am challenged and enriched in some new little way … and I’m a better person for it.

(And really, how cute are those slippers?)

Parents, how have your kids stretched your horizons?

9 Responses to Reflections on raising boys

  1. You really struck a chord with this one, Ginny. As a mom of boys (and I’ve a strong hunch that #3 is a boy, too, despite what everyone around us likes to guess), I have these moments all the time. Where I realize my day-to-day mothering doesn’t look the way I expected. I thought I’d have girls, or at least one, and I envisioned all these tender mother-daughter moments together, pulling out cherished toys from my childhood. Don’t get me wrong – I loved Legos and the train set as much as any girl with younger brothers. But I find that it’s been a good challenge to my growth as a mom to NOT have girls onto whom I might project myself. Instead I’m constantly amazed by these boys – their “otherness” as well as their similarity to me. I have to laugh at myself, too, because the moments I find myself longing most for a daughter are when I’m shopping for kids’ clothes and I catch a glimpse of some adorable flowered thing. My inner feminist never seizes the opportunity to say COME ON, YOU CANNOT WANT A GIRL FOR THAT! 😉

  2. I so agree about the clothes, Laura! Boys’ clothes are not anywhere near as cute as little girls’ clothes. I comfort myself with the thought that I’d be tempted to spend a lot more money on clothing if I had girls … at least with boys, I have a chance of staying within a budget.

  3. Chris Lowenstein

    I agree with you, Ginny. I only had brothers when I was growing up and I thought for sure I’d have at least one daughter when I had kids. Like you, I have two sons. They have stretched me in so many ways and made learn to appreciate the value in things for which I previously did not care: sports, dirt, roughness, etc. I think God gave me the kids I needed to have to grow as a person rather than what I thought I wanted. (Though I’d also still love to have a daughter.) Great post!

  4. Glad you enjoyed it, Chris! I think that’s why we need girlfriends, so we can hang out and discuss Austen and other girly things that our boys don’t appreciate. 🙂

  5. After having 2 daughters for 7 years, along came Jonah, the icing on the cake. I felt just this way. Although we raised our girls to be independent, feminist-minded, Lego-loving girls, they still favored Barbie dolls over the cars & trucks; despite that Barbie had a pretty cool (pink) convertible. With Jonah, I learned the specific names and functions of every Bobcat, dump truck, cement mixer, fire truck… what a learning curve, and what fun! Thank you for this reminder.

  6. So I have one of each and it definitely makes it interesting. I grew up with four brothers, but had a mom who was ALL GIRL when it came to me….best of both worlds 😉 So now I am watching superhero dress up tea parties or nature walks with Bernadette and her dolly in a sling with Maryn having a dog in his ha! He definitely needs way more activity than her, but then she compromises with pulling him into her girlie things…I will say it never gets boring around here! 🙂

  7. Pamela, your girls sound just like me. We were huge Barbie fans, my sister and I. (We didn’t have the convertible, but one of our friends had the Barbie Dream Van, which was like the seventies on wheels.) Awesome stuff.

    Andrea, I’m trying to imagine a superhero dress-up tea party. It’s a great image. 🙂

  8. I loved this reflection. I grew up with brothers and we often mixed Barbies with GI Joe (Barbie was kidnapped/rescued many a time and given that I only had two Ken dolls, the GI Joes came in handy so that Barbie play time was a little more balanced). I also remember Snow White living in Wayne Manor (Batman’s home) at one point. I suppose only time will tell whether or not keeping my dollhouse for all these years will have been worth it. If nothing else, my son can invade it with pirate toys like my brother often did.

  9. Viki, I love it when toy cultures collide! Those sound like very fun memories.