Editor’s note: This week on the blog, we’re doing something we’ve never done before: it’s “Boy Week”! That’s right, we’re celebrating the release of the newest member of the “Lies” family of books, Lies Boys Believe by Erin and Jason Davis, with content celebrating the guys in our lives. You’ll be hearing from Erin Davis and Katie Laitkep later this week, but for now, regular readers of the blog will recognize the name of Cindy Matson, one of our frequent writers. Keep reading as Cindy introduces a guest post from her sister, Brenda Riggs.
Though I am a mother of one preschool boy, I certainly don’t consider myself to have any expertise on the topic of parenting boys. So, when I thought about writing on this topic, I knew I was going to need some help. For that, I turned to Brenda Riggs, my sister and best friend and—most importantly for this topic—mother of six boys. Brenda would not claim to be an expert either, but she certainly has plenty of hands-on experience as a “boy mama.”
I asked her to share some lessons that she’s learned in her eleven years of parenting boys. Whether you’re currently in the trenches as Brenda and I are or eagerly anticipating the arrival of son number one, whether you have no sons of your own but care for them in the church nursery, or if little boys now call you grandma—I hope that Brenda’s lessons learned while mothering a brood of boys will encourage you in your interactions with your own man-cubs.
If you had told twenty-one-year-old me on my wedding day that my husband and I would have seven kids (six of them boys), I would probably have ignored you and tried to calmly escape the conversation. (Clearly you must be crazy.) I have just one sister and come from a family that didn’t allow running, wrestling, yelling, or screaming. My mom says I used to organize for “fun” as a child. I don’t like dirt, sweating, working out, or any sports (including mini-golf and bowling). I like movies and shows that involve quirky characters and a charming sense of place. I zone out and make mental shopping lists during action scenes and refuse to watch anything sad, scary, or “dark.” In short, I am not a ton of fun and hardly a likely candidate to birth and nurture six man-cubs.
But God is good and wise. His allowing me to mother a herd of children, most of them male, has simply been the best, wildest, and most instructive ride that I ever could have imagined.
Not Bad, Just Different
Through my boys, God has taught me to value the beauty of people who differ from me. Though the Riggs boys are vast and varied, some things are true of all of them (even the littlest, just days away from his first birthday). They all love history, epic stories, epic battles, epic heroes, epic structures (anything epic actually). Building, wrestling, competing, creating, battling, and breaking things. Mud, dirt, sharks, insects, weapons, and Legos. (So many Legos!)
My oldest son has a particularly obsessive personality. As a toddler, he was in love with sharks and ocean creatures. To the best of my knowledge, I read every age- appropriate—and perhaps some that were not-so-age-appropriate—shark book in the children’s section of our library. While I have never cared much about sharks, through my son, God revealed Himself to me as the Master Creator and Artist of ocean life (some only recently discovered by scientists). Though my passion for sharks will never rival my son’s, I have grown in affection and appreciation for ocean life.
Once I would have scoffed at spending a day digging holes or gawking at backhoes on a construction site or visiting a military vehicle museum or a thousand other things that my boys’ curiosity has taught me are actually fascinating. When we got married, my husband wanted to build a display cabinet for his model cars. I couldn’t believe it! Weren’t model cars for children? Weren’t they toys?
I teased him about it and hurt his feelings. He never built his cabinet. And although I’m not sure where we would put it in our three-bedroom, two-bathroom house for nine people, I wish I had encouraged him to build it. Why? I now understand that because it didn’t interest me, I assumed it didn’t have value. My boys have taught me that I devalued my husband’s creative artistry and that his model cars were a form of art that he desired to share with others.
Real Men Do Too
Second, through my sons, God is teaching me to appreciate the spectrum of masculine expression. Born and raised in the rugged, independent state of Wyoming, I used to joke about “real men”: “Real men don’t wear pink” or “Real men don’t cry” or “Real men don’t wear sandals.” I was only joking, but I have since realized that this was unwise talk about masculinity. My boys are boys because God has written male on every cell in their bodies. They are male because God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, formed and shaped their little bodies to be boys.
However, even though they are little men, they sometimes, in different ways, display more traditionally “feminine” traits. One of my boys loves to bake and help in the kitchen. He dances and wears the brightest, most colorful Hawaiian shirts I can find. He is dramatic, imaginative, and very expressive. Another of my boys loves singing. (He recently started choir, and he may cause me to lose my mind with his incessant singing and humming.) He also loves babies—so much that I’m pretty sure he has accidentally freaked out some new parents with his desire to interact with their infants.
My oldest, who is probably my most “masculine” son, often weeps when we discuss eternity because he is pretty sure his best friend does not know Jesus and will not be in heaven with him. God has taught me to embrace all of these things in my boys. David loved singing and dancing (2 Sam. 6:14), and Jesus Himself made time for babies and children (Matt. 18:1–6; 19:13–14).
Finally, God is teaching me to value the beautiful life He has providentially entrusted me with. On my wedding day, I assumed that my husband and I would have two children, probably girls. (After all, that’s what my family had been and it was great!) Starting with baby number three, people began cheering ever more raucously for a girl: “I bet you are ready for a girl!” And while I would have loved for my oldest to have a sister, when at the birth of each new addition my husband looked at me and said, “It’s a boy!” I have never been disappointed. Not even a little. God has shown me that each boy is an interesting and unique little human.
My boys are precious treasures that have taught me so much, including that God is truly the Giver of every good and perfect gift. My house is not as clean or as quiet or as peaceful as I had pictured. It no longer smells like fancy scented candles, but God has used my six little man-cubs to change my heart. “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires” (Psalm 37:4).
I have learned to love the Lego creations cluttering my mantle, the high elven runes drawn on my son’s chalkboard, and the paper swords, guns, and Gondorian helmets that cascade from their toy basket. Sometimes my husband and I gaze at each other across our dinner table amidst the cacophony of talking/arguing/humming, and we smile. Although it is loud, chaotic, and, at times, uncouth, we love it! As my husband says, we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Boy week on the blog has just begun! Continue the fun today by watching the Grounded videocast where Jason Davis and Robert Wolgemuth will join Erin, Dannah, and Portia to discuss Lies Boys Believe and the Epic Quest for Truth.
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about God Gave Me Six Boys!.