Friday, March 2, 2012

Even When They Walk, They Do a Kind of Dance

I've always been so proud to be able to say that I am the mother of five sons.

I was busy raising four little guys when one of my husband's sisters got serious with a young man (now her husband) who was the baby in a family of five boys. As soon as I heard that about him, I thought his mother was so lucky, and I became enchanted with the idea of having another boy.

Well, Somebody up there was listening, because before long, I was pregnant. From the get-go, my husband and I were pretty sure it was a boy--by that point, we figured that boys were just what we do--and when a sonogram confirmed this, I was actually thrilled with the news. People inevitably thought that we were "trying for our girl" and must be disappointed about the sonogram results, but we were absolutely fine. I had had this idea of a fifth son in my head ever since I'd met my sister-in-law's husband, so as far as I was concerned, things were happening exactly the way they should.

It's interesting, being surrounded by all males--I will say that. Never a dull moment. Never boring. For instance, here are some rejects (the photos, not the kids!) from a photo shoot in 2000, when I was trying to get a nice picture of the boys for our family Christmas card.
I did eventually get a nice, normal picture, with all of them looking at the camera, smiling like the angels they were...but we had to go through this for awhile first.

One of the most touching books I've ever read is a work of non-fiction called Of Time and Memory, by Don J. Snyder. The author's mother died at nineteen, shortly after giving birth to him and his twin brother. He was told little about her by his father, who was devastated by her death. In his forties, Snyder goes back to her old hometown to find people who knew her during her short life, and he begins to not only come to know his mother, but also to learn about his parents' poignant love story. While he's interviewing all of her old relatives and friends, he finds out that his mother once confided to a friend that she wanted to have six boys. She babysat often for her young nephews, whom she adored, and here is how Snyder describes this love she had for boys: "Boys; she loved their inexhaustible energy. The way their imaginations were just beginning to take hold--explorers sliding their canoes into the clear, cold water. They were always moving; even when they walked they were doing a kind of dance. She liked boys emphatically, felt she understood them...She admired the way they disdained convention, defied time, challenged even the force of gravity. Boys, not girls, because a daughter might inherit her fears, be too much like her." That passage always makes me get a lump in my throat. I feel like Snyder is describing me when he talks about his mother.

That being said, I have finally been blessed with "my girls": my twin baby granddaughters Bonny and Kewpie. And I wouldn't trade a moment of those years raising my boys--but now I feel that my life is truly complete. Now I get to enjoy the kinds of things that were missing in my rough-and-tumble household, like sugar and spice and everything nice. Like dolls, tea parties, frilly dresses, hair ribbons, patent leather shoes, and high-pitched little mousie voices. Like lots of pink and purple. And someday, hopefully, girls-only activities like shopping expeditions and coffee klatsches!

But I do adore those five boys of mine, and I hope they know it.

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