Monday, February 25, 2013

Raising Boys!

It's been ages since I made any changes to this blog.  I don't like change, and I resist it like a stubborn three-year-old boy who has to have an older brother pin him down on the rug so his mother can brush his teeth; but last night I got motivated to fine-tune "String of Pearls" a bit.  Some time ago, when I finally got up the courage to try something new, I made my first tentative change to the look of my home page and added the pink tabs across the top naming some of the topics about which I blog most often, just in case anyone wanted to read about something specific, like "Faith."  But some of the categories I originally put my posts in were a bit broad.  For instance, posts about either my husband or my boys were lumped together in an all-inclusive category called "family."  Almost everything I write about is connected in some way to my family, so to be more specific I added "marriage" to the posts spotlighting my best guy, and "life with boys" to the posts that pertain to my offspring and my experiences as a mother who raised all boys and lived to tell the tale.

(Wow, this is probably really boring!  Maybe I'll skip telling you about when I learned how to embed Internet links in my posts--it was thrilling for me to be able to add this new techno-skill to my blogging repertoire, but I doubt you would find that story at all scintillating.)

I must admit that adding a "life with boys" tag to some of my posts was inspired in part by reading Rachel Balducci's awesome book Raising Boys is a Full Contact Sport.  My husband and I both read it, actually, and we both felt like she could have been talking about us!  Like us, she and her husband were blessed with five sons in a row--although they did go on to add a daughter to their family, which we did not.  Her description of life around her house with five loud, lively, competitive, sports-crazy, exasperating and at the same time ineffably sweet boys,  pretty much mirrors what ours was like for many years, before the nest got emptied out.  (Was she hiding in our house or something?  If not, then how else would she have known about calling seriously overgrown toenails, a hallmark of life with hygiene-wary young lads, "talons"?  Well, in the Pearl household when they got that long and gross we called them "raptor talons," because we REALLY like dinosaurs; but still...)

Over the two years I've been working on this blog, I've often written about the weirdly wonderful experience of being a mother to all male children; it's such a part of who I am, and some of my favorite posts have been the ones where I try to describe how uniquely blessed I feel.  Surely, there should be an easy way for a reader to find those posts so near and dear to my heart, I thought.  (You're welcome, by the way.)
It's hard for me to even put into words how much I loved every page of Balducci's hilarious and touching look inside the house, mind, and heart of a woman with all sons.  For instance, her son Augie asks her, "Do you know why these cookies are the best?"  Then he answers his own question, "Because you made them."  I believe this is a conversation I have actually had with each of my sons on multiple occasions over the years.  Early in the book, Balducci says that her boys' "love language is food."  True that!  I know whenever one of my boys would ask me why I made better cookies than all the other mothers, I'd tell them the special ingredient was love.  She also talks about the way she has to hide the fun snack foods in empty boxes of bran flakes, and how her sons can sniff them out.  I spent years trying to hide bags of chocolate chips in the craziest places (often in empty boxes of foods I knew they'd never go near), and they always seemed to find them.

I feel a kinship to Rachel Balducci.  When she was out with her crew, strangers would come up to her and ask if she was going to try for her girl; I got that question all the time, too, along with pitying cries of, "Five boys!  Oh, better you than me!"  Her boys have every one of the Calvin and Hobbes books; so did ours, and they devoured them all.  The similarities between the Balducci household and the Pearl household are significant, let me tell you.  The competitiveness.  The tussles. The need to win every contest.  The interest little boys have in bodily functions, but the disinterest they have in the hygienic practices needed for the upkeep of said body...I could go on, but I won't.

I love all the funny stuff in this book, and I can so relate to all of it!  But it's the poignant way Balducci speaks of the privilege (yes, the privilege!) of having all sons that really tugs at my heart, because she so perfectly expresses how I feel about my guys.  She writes, "I am almost acutely aware of the honor and privilege it is to be raising my sons.  These boys in my care are tomorrow's men, and like parents the world over Paul and I will have a direct impact on the future through the way we raise our children."

Boys are very sweet to their mothers.  When my boys were young pups who were pinging off the walls at times, my husband would assure me that one day I would have tall, strapping lads walking on either side of me, protecting me and treating me like a queen--fine men who would go out in the world and make it a better place.  And that day has come. I love this quote from Balducci's book, because this is it, in a nutshell--this is the way I feel about my relationship with my sons: "It is certainly a mutual admiration society, even on the days when child rearing is grungier and louder than I would have imagined.  These boys are the jewels in my very rustic crown, a crown I wear with a complicated mixture of pride and humility."

I love, love, love this book!  When I was younger I read Jean Kerr's Please Don't Eat the Daisies, another great book for mothers of boys, and it too was funny and touching.  But Raising Boys is a Full Contact Sport is even better.  It's sharp, witty, and skillfully written. And even though it speaks to me in a special way, I don't believe you have to be a mother of all boys to enjoy it.

All that being said, having three granddaughters is so delightful!  And I wouldn't want you to miss seeing pictures of my little sweethearts, so I added a "grandchildren" tag to some of my posts, too, so that pictures like this one wouldn't be too hard to find in my mega-category called "family."

This is my son, the oldest of our five boys, holding three-day-old Little Gal, the youngest of his three daughters.  I have to say that being the parent of all girls appears to be a pretty special blessing, too!


  1. I love it when I learn new skills on blogger:)
    I know the feeling when you tidy up and organise with labels, heady stuff:)
    Though I have 3 girls, I'm so thrilled to have 6 sons. I just look at them in shock sometimes and say, 6 boys! wow!!

    1. I wish we'd had 8 or 9! You are so blessed. Your house must be so much fun. I think the best things parents can give their children is siblings! :)

    2. I meant to say the best THING. (Nice grammar!)