The Christmas season is so fast and furious, with events at school and church every single night of the week leading up to Christmas break, that sometimes you can’t catch your breath. I found myself longing for those two weeks at home, glorious home, where, sadly, I could clean my house, sit still for just a minute, laugh and play with Cole, and maybe even get to read a book. I have a stack of books on my nightstand, but during the school year, I am so mentally drained by the time Cole gets to sleep that I usually choose to just go to bed myself. So, my gift to myself for Christmas this year was time, with a few new books thrown in. I vowed that we would not be in a hurry for two weeks, not rushing around from here to there, perpetually almost late. That tends to wear on you a bit.
The weather has not made us want to anything but stay inside, with a pogo stick, skateboard or new basketball in the hallway, who the heck bought those for my kid for Christmas? Thanks Santa. But I have gotten the down time I was craving, and feel like I got to remove some of the clutter from my home and my head, in order to be my best for those 600 plus teenagers on Tuesday.
One of my Amazon finds was, “Praying for Boys”, by Brooke McGlothlin. It is a must read for any mama of boys, but particularly single moms of boys. Cole is a pretty lucky little guy, that he has a dad who cherishes him, a Papa who adores him, and countless other godly men in his life who are wonderful examples of what a man should be, our pastor, his principal, my own boss (who has the same name as one of the competitors on American Ninja Warrior, our favorite show, and Cole is convinced that it is indeed the same David Campbell), and many more wonderful men in our church. In the last year and a half, since I feel like God has called me into helping other single moms navigate life (which still scares me to death, I am pretty sure he dialed the wrong number there), I have drawn more near to what God has planned for me and Cole, instead of what I have planned for me and Cole. I have laid awake at night and prayed over that little head, praying for God’s purpose and will for his life and for mine, because sometimes, as a mama, I feel so stinking clueless.
Being a boy mama is so different from being a girl mom because they are so loud and in your face, and just wild. But I say that I could not imagine being a girl mom, if tasked with doing another head of hair in the mornings, I would never quite make it. I just need to find the mate to other solid black Nike socks, a pair of comfy pants to go with a funny t-shirt, and he is happily set for the day. Mcglothlin sets the tone for the entire study on page 47, when she says “Are you helping your son dream about the bigger vision God has for his life? Do you look at life for what it is, or what it can be? Do you call out the gifts in your son’s life, helping him to grow into his God-given passions and callings? Even if your son is quite young, you can help him see the big picture, let him know he can do anything God wants him to do, be anything God wants him to be. You can encourage him to fight for those are too weak to fight for themselves. Does he see you caring about your neighbors and those in your community who need help? Does he know about the people all over the world whose trials and struggles are so much worse than his own?”. Wow. That is kind of a big pill to swallow for my little man. I love to think about who my baby will be when he is big, but I love seeing who he is right now. His wise 2nd grade teacher does a project where each child has a special week, and each child in the room writes about them, about what they mean to them, and who they are. (I know that all of you sweet elementary teachers do something similar, and it is a favorite for all mamas, I assure you). Cole came home with this sweet little book, and that last entry was from a little boy in the class who wrote about how Cole was always a friend to him when no one else was. You know me, of course I lost it. I want so many things for Cole, but I want him to care about other people the most, and notice when they are hurting. As parents we can teach our babies to read and to bounce a basketball, but how they treat other people is the true measure of a real man.
I am only through the first part of this book, and I just might finish it today, because Cole and his dad are going to watch Star Wars and shoot guns today (it’s all about balance folks, ha), and McGlothlin says there are three important lessons to learn, especially if you are a single mama raising a boy, but for really any boy mama.
- Life won’t be perfect, don’t expect it to be, but do set the bar for excellence in your life and in your son’s life. Expect him to live up to it. Life is all about relationships, a relationship with God, relationships with family and friends, and relationships with coworkers. True excellence in life comes from how you treat people, period. That is the biggest lesson I want Cole to learn in his young life.
- Do whatever it takes to protect your children. In my work with teenagers and women, I hear so many terrible stories of sexual abuse and abuse in their childhood years, events out of their control because their parents put their own needs first, or perhaps trusted someone they shouldn’t have (or someone who misrepresented themselves to their parents, a trusted adult or family member). I know that I am hypervigilant with Cole because of the things I hear every day. But I would rather err on the side of caution, than have something irreparable happen to him. When I became a single mom, I promised him and myself that I would do whatever it took to create a good life for him, and to provide for him at all costs.
- Pray. Pray without ceasing for your son. God is always working, and while you are in the middle of a storm, sometimes you just can’t see your way out, and how it will end. Don’t ever give up on the man he will be someday. If he is already a man, still pray for God to direct his feet and his thoughts.
The end of this book holds directions for conducting a group for 21 days of prayer for moms of boys. That might be a fun group to have this spring. We can talk and read while our boys tear down the house or ride skateboards in the hallway with make-believe swords. Study those sweet faces while they’re sleeping, because you have to be ready to go the moment they wake up.