“Raising boys—that’s an extreme sport!” Such was the sentiment that found its way to my desk on the recent Mother’s Day weekend. On the front was a photo of three boys heaped in a pile on four small wheels, ready to roar down a hill with reckless abandon.
“If this doesn’t kill us, our mothers will.” That’s what it said. As the mother of boys who’d done that very thing, I said a quiet, “Amen,” which I covered discreetly with a cough.
On the inside in meticulous cursive was written, “Saw this card and thought it perfect as well. Thanks for always making me laugh.” It was signed by Kid Kaboom.
An extreme sport, raising boys? And wasn’t that the truth. It was good (it was) that a woman entered motherhood blissfully unaware of all that awaited.
The journey to maternity for many was a path all flower strewn, drenched in rainbows and sunbeams. Birds sang and butterflies flitted as the first, small flutters were felt in the womb. Then flutters turned to kicks, thumps and bumps, and one’s bladder became a trampoline. The waistline disappeared. The ankles did, too, and at long, long last, the little doober arrived.
In one “yip and a woof,” as a canine would say, life changed. Your time was not your own. Your money was certainly not your own, and your heart would never again be your own. Forever after, it would go walking about outside your body in the shape of a kid carrying your last name. Or, in my case, four boys sporting blue eyes, cowlicks and rooster tails.
It’s good, I’ve decided, that they arrive as helpless, gurgling babes. For that quick, one falls in love, and then they become large, bumbling teenagers with smelly socks and “issues,” it’s too late. You’re still hooked.
One may feel at times like taking one’s raucous teens, labeling them “only slightly used” and dropping them in the nearest Goodwill box. Such thoughts are merely fleeting (usually) and are never carried out (hardly ever), for it’s here that the mature parent cinches up his or her sturdy Christian underwear and resolves to see it through.
Extreme sports of any kind demand one’s grit and resolve. I know folks who’ve run marathons. They train for months, running until their legs feel like tree stumps weighing 200 pounds apiece. They keep running.
Some have done triathlons. They bike and swim and run like the—well, like a pack of lawless bandits is right behind. They wheeze like bellows, thighs igniting in flames, but they don’t stop. They keep biking. And swimming. And running.
When pressed, I can run like that, now that I’m thinking about it. This usually involves threats to my coffee or my Rise ‘n Roll donut. In such a case, I find my inner triathlete, tearing over hill and dale in defense of my goodies, or, on some days, in pursuit of the same.
I’m serious. If I were a POW in possession of grave and solemn national secrets, I’d spill the beans in exchange for some good ones. Get me just sleep deprived enough, force me to wear those prison camp pajamas that scratch and itch (or so I’ve been told), and I’d give up the combination to Fort Knox. Yes, I would.
You can see why the country’s not entrusted me with its secrets and why I can’t wear those pajamas. No national hero, I; just a simple mother of four with a fondness for caffeine. That is all.
Actually, with the fondness for caffeine comes a need for speed. Wait. That’s all backward. It’s clear that I’m decaffeinated because how it really goes is this: I have four lively sons. Therefore, I have a great need for speed, and caffeine is the NOS (nitrous oxide) in my system.
When it comes to speed, those guys have got it, and they’ll employ it nearly anywhere, including the stairs and the roof. Naturally, this happens while their dad is at work. Where he can’t hear the thunder, see the smoke, hit the brakes. Naturally.
Someone somewhere does something to a sibling. With the roar of engines, they’re off. Through the house, up the stairs, out the window, over the roof, looping in fascinating patterns through the yard, and then thundering back into the house. Sure seems extreme when the entire convoy blows past your desk in a veritable cloud of dust and fumes.
They’ve tried their hand at making napalm. They’ve experimented with aerosol cans and lighters. They speak BRF (bottle rockets and firecrackers), and they never, ever hit the hamper.
What is scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro after that? What is skydiving or bungee jumping or ice climbing? Mere field trips, those, or kindergarten outings, if one goes by adrenaline output.
If I’m ever in need of a nursing home, those guys had better pick something boring. And quiet! A place with a ban on all boomers and chasing. Someplace with a library and a Keurig. It needs to be fun, stocking you-know-what donuts, but please. Not those prison pajamas.