Before becoming a mother, I dreamed of ponytails with ribbons, lacy frilly dresses, patent leather shoes, dance recitals, tea parties, Girl Scout cookies, and Barbie dolls. I dreamed of the little curly haired girl who would giggle as she played dress up with my jewelry, make up, and scarves. I dreamed of the perfect little angel who would hold my hand as we crossed the street. I dreamed of the little girl who would want me as her best friend through every stage in life. I dreamed of the teenager who would cry on my shoulder over some boy dumping her. I dreamed of the daughter who would want to wear my wedding dress. I dreamed of late night conversations and years of sharing and shopping. I dreamed that someday, she’d want to care for me the way I cared for her. I dreamed of a love and a bond that I wasn’t sure existed.
This is what I got:
I got bowl cuts, spikes, mullets, rat tails, crew cuts, and buzzes. Everything under the sun except ponytails and ribbons. I got a double dose of blue jeans with grass stains in the knees. If the knees hadn’t been worn out from skidding into home plate on the school yard. I got sneakers that ran through dog crap and tracked it in the house. I got games galore. T-ball. Baseball. Soccer. Football. Lacrosse. Track and field. Years of sitting in the stands, coaching, or yelling my fool head off while running up and down the sidelines.
I got ten years of Cub and Boy Scouting. Camping and mosquito bites. Pinewood derbies and rain gutter regattas. And organizing and selling the popcorn for the troop. And then there was the younger child who aspired to be like the older one and wanted so badly to be a “scubscout”. We dubbed him a Cub Sprout, and he practiced his knots by building booby traps for burglars. He became so good at it that he tied my bedroom door handle to the banister and locked me in my bedroom.
And there would be no Barbie dolls but GI Joes. GI Joe’s that had Jeeps and Army equipment. You know the kind that you could shoot missiles from? However, I never knew my boys would wind up finding a box of tampons to use as missiles. Nor did I know their friends would go home and tell their moms that I had the best box of missiles ever to play war.
And they did get into my jewelry, makeup, and scarves. They giggled as clowns and yielded swords as pirates. They were ship captains, cowboys, Indians, policeman, doctors, pizza deliverers, race car drivers, and construction equipment operators. Their imaginations knew no bounds. There was boundless energy that didn’t cease for naps. They were like Energizer bunnies that just kept going until their batteries finally exhausted.
They did hold my hands nicely while crossing the street. But the very second it was safe (and sometimes before) they squirmed free and took off like bullets. Adventure was at every corner. There were trees to climb, mud puddles to jump into, bottle caps to collect, frogs to catch, rocks to throw, and worlds to conquer. They left nothing unscathed.
They ate things that were never meant to be ingested. Canine heartworm pills. Lipstick. Half a bottle of Nyquil. Bubblegum. I never knew having children would “entail” (pun intended!) pulling bubblegum from a three year olds butt hole!
But the hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s” made every single effort worth it. The homemade cards and macaroni necklaces were priceless.
Well, I was never their best friend. But I was the one who could make absolutely anything they wanted. Whatever type of birthday cake they asked for, I made. I sewed costumes and other garments by request. We did crafts. We painted. We erected cranes and built castles and forts. We constructed dream catchers and school projects. We target practiced with bow and arrows. We chased each other with water guns. We played every kind of ball imaginable. We swam. We played tag and punch buggy. Not that I was fond of getting punched in the arm, but a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do! We blew bubbles. We fished, rode bikes, and chased away monsters. We made mud pies and baked chocolate chip cookies. My “peace” sign was replaced by the “loser” sign. My “high fives” gave way to “pounds“. They taught me a lot through the years. They kept me hip…ok, I’m pushing it with that description, but I digress.
They broke a few hearts along their way, and they each had their own hearts broken once. That’s when I learned how very evil teenage girls can be. And for a short period this nonviolent mom wanted to shake a teenage girl silly. There’s nothing worse than seeing your child in emotional or physical pain and not being able to ease his discomfort.
And my wedding dress will never be worn by them. Nor do they borrow my clothes unless they are attending some sort of theme party. But we have had many a shopping excursion. For food. For clothes. Pets. Athletic equipment. Electronics. Surfboards. Cars.
Endless adventures…endless loot.
Times of discipline and heartaches also existed. (Those times that give you a clear under standing of the phrase “it hurts me more than it hurts you”. Yes, a whole new perspective.) There have been speeding tickets and wrecks. The late night ring of the telephone that scares any parent witless. There have been broken bones and emergency room visits. Surgeries. And the motorcycle wreck. The “what ifs” and “thank God” moments. The moments that you realized that you could have lost your child. And you thank God every day for his life.
Pride. Yes, every parent is proud of their children’s crowning achievements. But I’m talking beyond the moments of good grades, scholarships, and awards. We had those moments, but I’m talking of the times that tell you that you’ve done your job well.I am proud of the times my sons have been honest with me when anything but the truth was what I really wanted to hear. I am proud of the times they have done hours of manual labor for elderly neighbors free of charge. I am proud that they have taken hard earned money and donated it to feed hungry children. I am proud of witnessing my son shaking a man’s hand in the grocery store, conversing with him, and showing him the utmost respect to find out later that it was the school janitor. I am proud to know that they treat others as equals and that they take up for the underdogs of the world. I am even proud to know that my son grabbed a punk at a stop light and threw him against his car and asked him how he liked being bullied. Apparently, the punk ripped an old man out of his car and threw him against it because he wasn’t driving fast enough. After getting over the initial shock and hearing him say that it could have been his grandfather and no one should treat the elderly like that, I was happy that he involved himself. I am proud that they rescue wildlife, do volunteer work, and assist those in need. I am proud that my sons are both passionate and compassionate young men.
And while I don’t have a daughter that swears she’ll nurse me through my dying days, my sons say they’ll put me in the nicest nursing home money can buy! What mom of sons could ask for more than that?! And through it all, I thank God for allowing me to be the mother of these most wonderful young men, for allowing me to love, nurture, and guide them on their life’s journey to this point that I can release them with the tools they need to be productive contributors to society.
While I didn’t get “sugar and spice and everything nice”, I wouldn’t trade a minute of “snakes and snails and puppy dog tails” My heart and life is overflowing with love.