I grew up with only brothers in one of those homes they write books about, where mother and father loved each other immensely and provided an ideal, nurturing, and lovingly disciplined environment. My brothers and I have been gifted since before the cradle with a mother who possessed a driving desire to develop her boys into men; to see them thrive and not be hindered by anything. Throughout my life, I have witnessed and experienced what it looks like to raise boys. I know how boys think and why they act the way they do. I understand exactly what goes through their minds before they do something that doesn’t make any sense. I get the appeal of sword fighting with anything I can find. I know how boys process emotion. I understand their motivation for nearly everything. Boys were right in my parenting wheelhouse. So, when each of these little girls started arriving, I felt like I had no frame of reference for parenting. I assumed I was starting from scratch. However, now that I am a few years into fathering daughters, in my thinking, I share a kinship of understanding with my dear mother because she was the lone female in our home and yet her influence towers. I hear her words coming out of my mouth every day. I am reminded of lessons I learned from her and skills I developed because of her. The longer I do this and the older these little girls get, the more I recognize the vast influence my mother wields in how I raise these She-Gables. She was training me for the best job I never imagined I’d have.
Mom taught me gentleness. Roughness is in my nature as it is with most guys. We push and shove and tackle and dunk. Not simply from a physical standpoint, my emotional edges are jagged as well. But my mother’s goodness rounded those sharp corners and dulled the spikes of my personality. She led me to understand a level of gentleness that serves my family well to this day. Because of her, my otherwise hardened hands and heart remain soft with regard to these little ones. I strive to give them an environment of gentleness, not because of any weakness of theirs but because it is a fundamental way to communicate to them that I honor and cherish them.
Mom taught me consideration. One of the hallmark differences between guys and girls stems from the ability or inability to consider the thoughts and feelings of the other. My default setting is to act on what I want and what I think. However, my dear mother infused in me from a very early age the habit of taking others’ wants and thoughts into consideration as well. Being considerate. When I interact with my daughters, the practice of thinking about how my words and actions affect them has been a wonderful filter for my parenting.
Mom taught me affection. Being able to display genuine affection is a skill most guys simply don’t possess and have a monumentally difficult time developing. My mother taught me, even as a little guy, that even the tiniest displays of affection have large impact. So, I am comfortable telling the She-Gables how much I love them. Every day. I hold their hands. We hug often. I complement them all the time. Because of my mother, I can pursue the hearts of my daughters. What a phenomenal and rare gift.
For you boy-Moms: You carry enormous power. The things you do today will mold and shape the kinds of fathers your sons will be. I make a ton of mistakes and I mess things up every day. I am in constant need of reminders to learn these lessons again and again. But, because of who my mother is, I am ideally suited to raising girls, and without her, I would not have gotten very far. Thank you, mamma. I love you always.