By Lyn Wise
It’s always been a little tricky living in a house full of testosterone … my three boys and their father consider themselves Men’s Men — a label I find silly. I sometimes wonder, what does that really mean?
If you have ever seen the FX show, The League, my men are similar to the four male leads: Crude, check; ESPN, check; booty, check; booty call, check; Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Edition; BIG check.
I admit this makes them sound like a bunch of chauvinistic ogres, but stick with me.
I definitely do not consider myself prudish or a girly girl; and if truth be told, a trip to the American Doll store or an hour playing Barbies sounds completely heinous. However, I do have a love of fashion, design, and rarely skip the mani-pedi … so the question I dare to explore goes something like this: “How does the odd (wo)man out relate to these male creatures and more importantly how does one create a loving and lasting connection with boys, beyond the typical mother/son relationship?” This is something I have wrestled with off and on over the past 21 years; and I finally think I have some answers.
I’ll begin by acknowledging a dirty little secret that a lot of us may not be willing to admit: Sometimes my husband and I are secretly vying to be their Number One Go-To in any given situation. A typical conversation goes something like this. Bob says, “Why didn’t Boy A text me about that grade in math?” Me, “I have been discussing his math grade with him all semester.” I then mutter under my breath, SCORE … so happy to be the Go-To Math Girl. After a particularly stressful evening, Bob asks, “Why did Boy B call you when his posse was drunk and needed a ride?” Big SCORE, I stroke myself on the back and smile … Boy B calls his Mom when the chips are really down!
Unfortunately for me, this dirty little game works two ways: I cannot begin to count the times I have sat through an entire dinner, they’re discussing fantasy football, and I’m feeling totally left out with nothing to contribute to the conversation.
How many times have I said no to that invitation to join them at a baseball game; not willing to be sucked into nine innings of slow torture, but knowing that when they walk out the door I am missing a day of bonding?
Now that they are older, I get small glimpses as to what transpired with the latest hook-up or what terror their pledge masters inflicted — but the real nitty gritty is reserved for their sibs or Dad’s ears only.
Because I don’t connect with them over their love of professional sports; I make sure that they know I am there for them in many other ways. When they were younger, I rarely missed one of their sporting events, because I always adored watching them do what they love. Getting behind my kids and supporting their passions has been fulfilling.
My husband travels, which has left me primarily in charge of school, doctors, social lives, meals, college planning, etc. My kids know that they can depend on me to arrange that extra ACT tutoring session, go with them to find that classic suit and tie combo, or run to the local market for an after-school sandwich. It may sound like trivial stuff, but years of being there for them in these ways has made a big difference.
Sure, I lament the fact that I don’t have anyone to share a spa day with or go shopping with for a sorority rush wardrobe. I guess one day, daughter-in-laws may help fill the void. In the meantime, I love when their friends model their homecoming choices for me, or ask me for shoe advice — the edgy look with studs or the black suede pumps? And please, post those pics of your girls on Facebook … I love seeing them at their dance competitions.
Being a Boy Mom also takes having your own brand of social networking. The guys rarely post on Facebook and certainly don’t share in the way the girls do. This is where my Girl Mom friendships are so helpful; they are terrific about filling me in … good or bad!
Also, if I am really wondering what my boys are up to, I am guilty-as-charged for looking at their female friends’ FB pages.
Then there are the frustrating times when they just don’t get my gender! Why don’t they understand why a $25 blow-dry is sometimes a necessity? Why does holiday planning begin a month before the actual holiday, and why having enough food to feed a small army is critical? Why self-maintenance takes time and money (my husband thinks it is a waste, but not so sure he would agree if this didn’t occur)?
Just when I’m rolling my eyes about gender differences … I flash-forward to a grocery store encounter: A Mom raves about how my son has been the shoulder her daughter leans on as she adjusts to college life. A relative displays a sweet text she received from one of my boys. Parents of campers compliment the boys’ skills as mentors and counselors. Somehow, despite the bravado, they are tapped in.
I flash-forward one more time, it’s any occasion when we are all at home. We are snuggled up on the couch, in furry blankets and sweats, it is dark outside and the remote is held gently in my eldest boy’s hands … flipping between HGTV and the Food Network; together we watch, Chopped, House Hunters International, Million Dollar Listing … my definition of heaven.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Lyn Wise is a Broker Associate at @properties in Highland Park, Illinois. When she is not working with clients and their real estate needs; she is busy helping to launch three young adult males into the “real world”. Lyn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org