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If we’re being completely honest, until recently, I’ve always been a bit jealous of my friends who had a girl first. From those first baby showers, drenched in all things pink and perfect, I was green with envy. I’d watch my friends in church with what looked like a demure little doll on their laps, thoughtfully turning the pages of a board book and wonder, “How do you get one of those?” Here I was, wrestling a very active, bouncing baby boy who never met a board book he couldn’t throw.
My boy was three before we could read together without him ripping the pages out. Everything was either a sword or a gun. He lived by one creed: if it doesn’t work, fit or agree, bite it. Are all boys like this? Little did I know I would one day have five of them.
I used to watch, a bit resentfully I might add, as those demure little dolls transformed into capable, responsible babysitters, well before puberty too. Downright helpful by the ripe old age of five. Hmmm. How very convenient for you, I’d muse as I patched yet another hole in the drywall.
My husband’s job required long hours and too much travel, so for years I felt like I was treading water all alone. At least mowing the lawn with a baby strapped to my back kind of all alone. Keeping a crew of littles alive, day-in and day-out, solo, takes a toll.
Nights were the worst. My mind would wander into dark corners. If there were an emergency, how would I get all my babies to safety? Who would I grab first? I used to lie down in the twilight with a baseball bat in one hand, fully charged cell phone in the other, close my eyes and just breathe. Needless to say, I never slept well while my hubby was away.
And then something wonderful happened. That same book throwing biter got bigger than me. Not only bigger, but taller. Stronger. Waaay stronger. Think Spiderman the morning after he got bit. That’s when I realized: I had another man around the house!
Just like that, *snap* the tables turned. I used to snatch his little body out of busy streets, now he helps me when I foolishly trot across icy parking lots wearing heels. I used to strap him into my baby backpack and lug that heavyweight on all our family hikes. Nepalese sherpas had nothing on me. Now he’s the one wearing the very same backpack, different two-year-old. Hiking has never felt so invigorating!
My husband called me the other day needing my help moving an extra heavy bedroom set up a large flight of stairs. Wait! Remember that massive ten-pound baby I gave birth to all those years ago? You know, the one who used to bite? He’s right here! I’ll send him over! Game changer.
My friends’ daughters may be nurturing and thoughtful, but can they heave home those 40-pound bags of water softener salt, two at a time without breaking a sweat? Exactly.
It’s not just his brute strength that make him a man worth having around. His protective instincts, the ones that used to exhaust me, (think of an unfocused, self-righteous, 60-pound vigilante) well, now they’re his best quality. Most nights, he checks on me before turning in! I can finally sleep soundly again! I wish someone would’ve told me to be more patient with that rough little boy—the wonderful man I’d eventually get was so worth the wait.
Oh, I can hear the feminists chastening me now. I am woman. I am strong! I shouldn’t need a man in my life to feel secure and settled. And they are absolutely right. I don’t need one. Personally, I’ll need five.