My favorite blog post last year came from a kindred spirit, and someone I truly believe is living the same life as me, albeit just a few years behind. Rita Templeton, also a mom of four boys, and blogger over at Fighting Off Frumpy wrote an absolutely hilarious piece titled “10 Things Boy Moms Must Know” As I read each point I literally found myself yelling out “AMEN! Yes! Preach it mama! TRUTH!” and when it ended at number 10, I slumped in my chair. Keep going! You have only scaled the tip of the testosterone iceberg! Then it hit me- she hasn’t experienced the teenage boy. Well holy AXE spray, zit cream, and hairy legs, I. AM. THERE. I am treading water in the teen angst cesspool (also known as their bedroom) desperately gasping for sanity, in male adolescent hormone infested waters. Waters that run deep, wide, smart-mouthed, and scruffy chinned. Where dirty boxer shorts, crumbled up and forgotten homework assignments, lost ear buds, sweaty socks, and junk food wrappers are forever afloat. Unfortunately, these waters do not come with a lifeboat. (Honestly, I don’t need a lifeboat, I need a pressure washer and a bullhorn but we will get to that in a sec.) Don’t get me wrong, my teenagers are great kids, they do well in school, are witty, empathetic, amusing, and are actually growing into really cool adults. But there are minutes, days, sometimes weeks where I -in teen terms- like, TOTES. CAN’T. EVEN. wrap my mind around their behavior.
1. Everything will smell.
Their car. Their closet. Their bathroom. Their bedroom. The hallway that leads to their room. It will be a funky, sweaty, noxious, musty, foul, deodorant soap covered perspiration, “I am no longer a little boy” type of odor. No candle, plug in, floral spray, or wax melt comes even close to touching it, so stop trying. When they move out, painting the room and replacing the carpet may help. (MAY.)
2. They will suddenly want to wash their own sheets.
They will bounce down the stairs with all of their bedding wrapped up in a tiny ball, duck into the laundry room, and out of nowhere suddenly want to start the washing machine with no help. Don’t ask. Don’t help. Don’t acknowledge. Move on mom. This doesn’t involve you. Just a boy and his dreams.
3. There is no frustration greater than teaching the male brain how to drive.
I’m almost done teaching my second son how to drive. I’ve got chewed up cuticles, severe hair loss, and a prescription to reduce heart palpitations to prove it. No matter how cautious, careful, and smart of a driver they appear to be, and even with mom riding shotgun, dents will happen. So will things like, “Does yellow happen before or after green?” and “Is 65 the FASTEST I can go?” Shoot. Me. Now.
4. When not sleeping, they are eating.
Ever wake up at 3 am to what sounds like raccoons in your kitchen digging through the garbage for food? Folks at Costco finally give you your own parking spot up front? Then you get it. I live in “Never Enough Burritos” land. Someone please invent a pepperoni pizza patch that I can slap on their arms that will offer 24 hour continuous nourishment.
5. When not eating, they are sleeping.
Never, ever, EVER did I think when I had a house full of babies that woke everyday before sunrise that I would ever sleep in again. But teens? They SLEEP THE HELL IN!! Like until NOON. Comatose almost. Not gonna lie, it’s freakin’ awesome. Awesome until they have to wake up at the crack of dawn, like, say, for school. Then you are totally screwed. Invest in a bullhorn, and pray for Saturdays.
6. They will take risks.
Big ones. Mind numbing ones. Risks that your shy, overly cautious, hesitant little boy would never take. (Personally, I think the part of the brain that kept him wary and watchful is now controlled by images of boobies and butts, but who knows.) Basically, boy brains are fearless, reckless, and sense zero consequence. If you’ve ever uttered the words “Not my kid” take it back. Take it back right effing NOW. Trust me.
6. They think they know everything.
Yes, that cliche is true, and they will actually say this to your face. I literally recorded mine saying it to me. Even he laughed. This brazen way of thinking must somehow be a survival mechanism. Perhaps if they had an authentic grasp of adulthood and what real life will throw at them someday, they may not even want to reach 18. Let’s just allow them to keep thinking they know everything. Why ruin the party?
8. They will not want to hug much anymore.
Like ever. But keep trying. You will become the physical form of kryptonite, and when they see you with your arms outstretched they may run away in horror. Keep trying anyway. Because out of the blue one day they will toss their arm around your shoulder and give a squeeze, a grin, and say “I love you mom.” (It may only occur when your trunk is full of Doritos and Cheez-Whiz but hey, take what you can get.) They may seem aloof and un-wanting of your affection, but don’t believe it. They want it. Hug when and if you can.
9. Showers. All day. Every day.
Go ahead and buy the low flow shower head on their 13th birthday, as it will save you about $500 a year. Kids you previously had to beg, bribe, and literally chase down and throw into the shower now spend one fourth of their entire day in there. And yet, still #1. Washing diligently? Probably not, but just don’t be that mom who knocks and cracks an embarrassing joke. Just don’t.
10. You thought your newborn grew overnight? You won’t believe these spurts.
The mere fact that these boys that I have to crane my neck and look UP to now used to fit in the football hold under my arm is mind boggling. But it happens. And it does so at warp speed. They will go to bed one night with the voice of a Vienna Choir boy and walk out the next morning Pavarotti. Pants that one day you have to roll up will be capris the next. We have skipped three whole shoe sizes at one time. Must have something to do with #4. In the blink of an eye you will go from holding the soft padded hands of a little boy to holding a hand that feels like your husband’s. Your boys will become men right before your eyes. And if you must know ONE thing, it’s pretty darn cool raising men.