Although this is the third post in the series, The Kids are Allright, it should be the first. I just might be trying to imitate George Lucus and the Star Wars series! Getting to the place I am now as an advocate for women and girls in the developing world was very much influenced by how I started by mothering journey. By first being a mother to a son—and then another son—-and then another son. Added in there between son number 1 and number 2 was the donor egg son. Four boys can do interesting things to a woman. My previous conceptions about how to properly raise boys (before becoming a parent) were thrown back in my face when the first son arrived on the scene. He wanted nothing to do with cultural activities or books and was only interested in running, jumping and chasing a ball. He was also very determined and would not be coerced into anything. Sons number two and three were a slightly diluted version of the first, but by then they had me outnumbered. In the early years, my bemused spouse let me try the best I could to find one or two less testosterone infused activities to engage the boys, but I finally gave in and joined in the “If you can’t beat them, join them” mantra.
Prior to becoming the mother of three boys, I was a much more reserved, shy version of my current self. That personality didn’t work as the mother of boys. If I didn’t want the backyard snake in the house, I had to be willing to pick up the box which housed the snake and move it outside. The monarch butterflies were allowed to hatch from caterpillars in a terrarium, before I insisted that they move outside. I was as surprised as my spouse when the orphaned duck egg hatched under a light bulb. The unfinished basement was a hockey rink, baseball field and soccer pitch. We managed to destroy 3 old mattresses over the years, using them as a wrestling and tumbling mat. I was the unpaid referee handing out red cards (Stop Immediately) and yellow cards (Slow Down). This was no place for the faint of heart and no room for backing down, because then they saw your weakness and attacked the next time with even greater fury. And I loved it all. Being challenged both physically and emotionally made me reconsider many of my previous ideas about parenting and realize that there were many “right” ways to parent. Three compliant, well mannered daughters would never have been able to challenge me in this way.
Nature vs. Nurture has always interested me. My own personal study was apparent with my son by donor egg showed up on the scene. By all rights, he should be a more reserved, quiet version of his half brothers since he was in a house of girls – 2 sisters and a single mom. But I think this only pushed him into more daring adventures. The combination of the older three boys was always an adventure – whether it be snowboarding on a mountain or tubing at the lake. Red cards were used frequently in the testosterone infused teenage years. The boys seldom communicated with each other between visits, but like most men, were able to immediately pick up where they had left off without any problems. They have been the children that have been most open with others about their half-brother status. They seem to enjoy the looks of astonishment when others look at their physical characteristics (see photo above) and try to imagine their parentage.
When I finally became the mother of girls, I was more than ready for the experience. Teenage girl drama did not faze me. If you were daring enough to participate in physical rough- housing with a brother, you couldn’t complain about the consequences. Advocating for yourself in social and school situations was a positive. Friends of their brothers were constantly around to interact with, so talking to boys that were your peers was not so daunting.
This past week I sent my second son off on a rock climbing trip. I actually envied him a bit for the adventure. I have certainly come a long way from my pre-parenthood years.