We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life, to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Lia Wiedemann takes our readers through the tough trials and beautiful victories of raising three young men. -JKM
When people hear I have three boys, they typically repeat the information. “Three boys?!” Many seem surprised; others sympathize. Some are shocked. The way I relay the number tends to elicit these reactions. I emphasize the three and throw in that we only have one bathroom. That’s my version of a mic-drop.
When I meet other moms of all boys, we often swap stories like old friends. My oldest son has picked up on this conversational pattern. He sees it comforts me, but wonders why we make boys sound so crazy. I’ve tried to break it down for him. I explain how he and his brothers amaze me with their creativity, wit, and endless amounts of energy, but that most days, they carry on like Gremlins who have eaten food after midnight. This, I tell him, is the dilemma. He still doesn’t get it.
My brother has two daughters close in age to my eight and ten-year-old boys. During a vacation in California together, I was commenting on how exhausting it can be to raise children. “Parenting is a piece of cake,” my brother casually told me, a sentence that has stayed with me since then, and has been said by no mom of all boys ever. After spending a week with him and his girls, I saw why he might think that way. My nieces generally listen, speak at normal levels, and don’t crave chaos. I tell my boys to quiet down multiple times every day because they always insist on speaking, playing, and doing everything at full blast. I remind them nightly not to use bathroom words at the dinner table. I beg them to not leave their clothes, towels, backpacks, shoes, Legos, Nerf guns, and Pokémon cards on the floor; to not climb on counters, in the fridge, or on the dining table; and to stop flooding the bathroom at bath time. I remind them that forks were invented for a reason and that greasy fingers don’t get wiped on clean clothes. Sometimes I must reprimand them for things that are so ridiculous, it’s hard to keep a straight face. Just this morning, I had to tell them to, “Stop using your brother’s butt as bongos and get dressed!” One of them once licked a battery that had brown stuff oozing out of it. When I asked why in the world he would do such a thing, he said he thought it was barbecue sauce.
Laughing at the insanity and accepting their need for mess, noise, and general commotion has been essential to my survival in a house full of boys. My husband leaves dirty socks on the dining table, but he can pitch a tent, paint kitchen cabinets, fix just about anything, and whip up impressive meals without recipes. Our boys are already following in his footsteps, and for that I am grateful for how different we are.
My boys don’t recap their days in full detail the way all the obedient imaginary girls I’ve conjured might, but they’ve taught me about countries I’ve never heard of and the unique habits of ants and beavers. They talk about the intricacies of airplanes, Harry Potter characters, and presidents at the breakfast table, on the walk to school, and when they’re going to the bathroom and brushing their teeth. Sometimes, they do those things at the same time. Amazon boxes become cars for little brothers, and plans for elaborate lemonade stands start the minute they wake up. Life with three boys is a thrilling, tiring, and hilarious three-ring circus. To them, life is a cruise ship with endless fun around every corner, and they wish I’d see it that way, too.
As the only woman in the house, I’m teaching them to hold their weight in the kitchen and to open up more about how they’re feeling. The cooking comes naturally, while the other area is a work-in-progress. My three-year-old helps cut fruit with kid-sized cutlery and my older boys make pancakes from scratch, guacamole with fresh herbs, and salad dressing with extra vinegar. At dinner, instead of bombarding them with a billion questions, we go around the table and share our rose and our thorns from the day, or what made us mad, sad, and glad. At bedtime, when their restless bodies finally stop squirming, it’s then that their deeper thoughts bubble up. I’m usually so fried by that point and longing for some peace and quiet, but I always force myself to forget about the laundry that’s piled up or the dishes in the sink, so I can soak in these delicious boys who I carried so proudly in my belly and nursed through the night. I tell myself that they won’t always shower me with millions of kisses when I come home, or call goodbye out the window long after I’ve left—that sadly someday, they’ll stop calling me “mama” and holding my hand. These three boys of mine require an endless amount of patience and an ungodly amount of cleaning up. But, there’s a ton of tenderness underneath those tough exteriors that I, as their mother, have been slowly unveiling. They can stress me out to my core. My bones ache and my ears ring. But, when we say our goodnights, I’m reminded of the rock-solid bonds we’ve developed, and this lifts me up as I prepare for another day.
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