Full-Tilt Boy: The Wreckage of Raising Sons

Philosophy: When snips and snails and puppy dog tails turn into a one-man wrecking crew, all you can do is hold your breath and batten down the hatches.

Part of being an only-child-single-boy-mom is learning wreckage.

I had no brothers (or sisters), so not only do I notunderstand sibling rivalry, I had to learn to mother boys. This was tough forme.

Growing up, I was shy, quiet and into books. Sports didn’t interest me until I ran track and cross country much later, and even then, Ichose the most solitary form of athletics there is.

I still hate dirt. Chaos, noise and disorganization drove me crazy. Then along came Jack.

Jack spent 9 days in the NICU when he was born. Meconium,intubation, seizures and the night he was born, I checked myself out of thematernity ward to follow my 5-pound preemie on his first car ride; in anambulance.

He pulled through. Other than following his own growth-curve, he can see, speak and walk on his own (we weren’t so sure thatwould happen) and he’s all boy.

He runs everywhere. He’s fascinated with wheels, motors and guns. He’s loud, oh so very loud. While he has an odd propensity for cleaning things, he’s almost always covered in something sticky and dirty himself, though.

Tyler is laid back. More so than Jack at three months old, but his appetite is more like that of a full-grown man. Jack can’t wait for the day Tyler can walk and talk and he can have a partner in crime. I can wait. I certainly can wait.

Most of the time, I wonder where Elise is in the house. Since she needs me less and less, she disappears for long stretches and plays in her room or reads and I actually have to go looking for her.

That is not the case with boys. I always know exactly where Jack is. If he’s not following at my heels asking questions, I just have to listen to where the noise is coming from.

The big booms that make me think the second floor is caving in is him rearranging his closet. The slamming from the kitchen means it’s snack time. The bing-bing-bing that drives me mad means he left the refrigerator open. Again. Yelling means he’s trying to get into Elise’s room and Lord help me, when I hear the toilet flush, I still hope against hope nothing went down that wasn’t supposed to.

It’s when there’s silence that I go looking. In the past, silence led me to open paint cans, a couch full of Fruity Pebbles, Sharpie down the walls and sponges in the toilet. Silence is not golden. Silence means Trouble.

If silence doesn’t mean trouble, it means Jack is with his dad. Even with Tyler’s baby noises, the house is so quiet when the kids leave. There are times, I admit, when things are extra wild, that I count the hours in my head until I can get a break from the one-woman show that is my life.

I can’t wait for the plate-spinning act to be over. But the minute they leave, the silence almost eats me alive and I miss them down to my bones. I have Tyler. He occupies me, but as any parent of more than one kid knows, you love them equally and you love them equally for different reasons, in different ways. None of the three can fill the gaps of the others when they’re not there.

When the noise gets to me now, I think about the silence that follows and it stops bothering me. Soon enough the noise won’t be strewn toys and slamming cupboards, it’ll be the sound of crashing cars and breaking hearts and packing for college.

It’ll be wreckage of a different kind; a more mature kind and that kind hits harder and hurts more. That kind is harder to clean up and I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for it.

That leaves me in the here and now with all the mud and moonbeams. It leaves me in the midst of ramshackle forts and piles of laundry; a funnel cloud of full-decibel noise that never stops.

It’s all part of being a boy mom and if it means I get to ride the river with these two, I’ll gladly float with all the wreckage.

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