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?