My Son Went Away for Two Weeks & Here’s What We Learned About Life Without Boys

I won’t lie. When the doctor held my second child in his arms and proudly said, “It’s a girl!” I was relieved. It’s not that I didn’t adore my firstborn, a son; it’s just that he was a toddler who seemed to be gunning to win a prize for being the most energetic child in the world. I was exhausted and concerned about having a second son. I wondered if I could keep up with another boy.

Since then, my son has grown into an inquisitive, wise, hilarious 8-year-old boy. And while his energy isn’t always at a fever pitch, like it was when he was a toddler, he still keeps me on my toes. And though he’s kind and caring, he’s also messy, takes 20 minutes to find his shoes, and has video games on his brain every second of the day, whether or not he’s allowed to play them.

This past summer, my little Tasmanian devil went to sleepaway camp for two weeks. My husband and I are both big proponents of sleepaway camp, having gone as kids ourselves. We looked forward to our son gaining independence, bonding with friends, and getting to have the freedom that two weeks without parents can provide. Plus, what could be more fun for an energetic boy than two weeks in the great outdoors with nothing but space to roam?

We also looked forward to time alone with his little sister. And if I’m to be perfectly honest, I looked forward to a bit of a break from the volume, messes, and energy that come with life raising a busy boy. I knew I would miss him, but I wouldn’t miss all that comes with raising a boy. Or, so I thought.

For the first few days, my husband and I did all the things my daughter loves to do. We all got manicures one day and laughed as my husband got one, too. We spent endless amounts of time in a bookstore, which may or not have been able to happen with my always-moving son on hand. I spent less money on groceries, without my son’s never-ending appetite to keep up with. I picked up a lot less clothing off the floor. My daughter seemed to have mastered the art of getting her clothes inside the hamper, rather than near it as her brother has been known to do. And our house was quieter and cleaner just like I had secretly imagined it would be with only my daughter around.

But here’s the thing: Despite having a quiet, cleaner house, I quickly realized that life certainly wasn’t better without my boy around.

See, in all that time I had spent wishing my son wasn’t quite so messy, hoping someday he’d learn the meaning of an inside voice, and all the time I listened to his endless ninja stories, I neglected to notice just how rich, full, and fun his boyishness made my life. I hadn’t taken into account all the things I know more about because he’s curious about everything from baseball to dinosaurs. And I hadn’t really noticed that it was his boyishness that kept me on my toes, opened my mind, and kept me moving.

The truth is, being the mom of a boy tests you in every way possible. My son’s energy and inquisitiveness test my patience each and every day. His messes require me to be less rigid and more in the moment. His wiggles force me to be less judgmental and change my expectations of perfect. And his out of the box wisdom keeps me learning, growing, and asking questions of my own. 

My house may be messier because I have a son, but my life is also richer. And I’m a better mother, wife, and friend because of the person my son requires me to be. I’m kinder, more patient, and more open minded than I would have been had I not been his mom. And he’s opened up a world to me filled with video games, action heroes, fart jokes, and endless questions about facts I’ve long since forgot.  I never knew those things would make my world better, but they have. He’s made my life better because he’s a boy and because he’s my son.

Now, if he could just get those clothes inside the hamper.

More Mom Confessions:

Photo: Getty