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Being A Mom to a Boy

The other night my husband went out with an old friend he hadn’t seen in a while. Upon his return, I asked how his wife and their kids (they have 3 sons 19,20, and 23) were doing since it had been a few years since we had all gotten together.

Last I heard, the oldest had a girlfriend that was pregnant. Part of me reacted the way I would have if it were my own 20 year old, unmarried son getting a girl knocked up. But they seemed, for lack of a better word, excited. I can’t lie, I was a little puzzled.

Then a memory of all of our boys playing together when they were young came rushing back. They were on a swing set. My son was five and theirs were slightly older at 7,8, and 11.  The older kids hoisted my son up on a trapeze of sorts and started swinging him really high. I remember being sort of jumpy and distracted, watching from a distance, but their mom kept telling her story and filling my wine glass, completely unfazed by the stunts that were normal for her kids. I didn’t want to appear uptight and my son seemed to be enjoying himself, so I reacted accordingly to her story with laughs, but, peripherally, my focus was on the kids while my mind was anxiously playing out worst case scenarios.

She pulled me into the kitchen to show me a paint color and as soon as the kids were out of my view, it happened. I heard a thud. Next thing I saw was my husband frantically carrying in my son, crying and covered in bloody mud all over his face. I rushed him to the bathroom and washed him off to find that the source of the blood was his nose and a huge gash on his lip.  Life threatening? No. Not even a visit to the emergency room worthy, however, he was bloody and scared and five.

The mom shrugged me off when I asked for a washcloth to hold on his wounds to stop the bleeding, shooed her hand at me, “Meh, it’s nothing. You’ll see much worse that that! You should have seen when Michael broke his arm in three places and bones were sticking out of his skin.”

But this was my son and if I could AVOID shit like this, that was what I understood to be my job. It was not to just throw my hands up in the air when he did something dangerous or stupid and chalk it up to “boys will be boys”! Sure he’ll make mistakes, but I do not plan to sit by and encourage him making stupid choices, because, that’s just kids for ya! And I hope that I have armed him with sense to take the right paths, choose good friends, and be a decent person. But when those mistakes happen, I hope that he learn from them and not let it happen again.

Everyone has their own ways of parenting. It’s right FOR THEM. There is not enough Xanax and Prozac IN THE WORLD for me to be as laid back of a parent as our friends are. It works for them, that’s fine. FOR THEM.

So back to the other night and the update about our friends. The  19-year-old, now, has a baby. The 20-year -old, now, has a baby and the 23-year- old, now, has two kids. None of them are married and the boys still all live at home.

Shocked doesn’t even begin to explain what I felt. I had so many questions (of course, none that my husband got answers to!) But then, I started panicking. I had a 17-year- old sleeping in his room, we’ve had the “sex talk”, but what does that mean, really? It was a while ago and I’m CERTAIN he wasn’t having sex then, so he did everything to avoid eye contact with me and let me get through it. He doesn’t listen to me when I tell him to put his shoes away, so what makes me think he will refer to a very uncomfortable conversation that we had where I repeatedly referred to his penis staying in his pants because babies are expensive.

I was freaking out. Our friends were grandparents FOUR times over. Sure, they parented a little less hands on than was my style, but still, they were our age. They loved their kids. Their kids are exposed to the same media and societal temptations as mine are.

I immediately ran down to my son’s room at 11:30pm and woke him up. “I just need to talk real quick,”  I said as I tripped over shoes and empty cups. “I know this is weird, but are you having sex?”

Apparently, 17 -year- old boys frown on being woken up in the middle of the night to be asked about their sexual activity by their moms. Who knew?

His answer that it was “none of my business”, made me as close to swallowing my own tongue as I think I have ever been. NOT the answer I was looking for. But I had to bite the bullet. I was having sex by his age. And this is that fucking regret that I had heard about when I was young, stupid and horny. Well played, Universe.

I surrendered and told him about our friends’ kids and basically begged him to not be stupid and not use protection. He rolled his eyes and rolled over, back to sleep. I didn’t care because I got it out, I told him what I needed him to know and a load had been lifted.

The next day I saw him, I had a sneaking suspicion that he may have still been sleeping during the wisdom that was dished out the night before. I asked him if he remembered our talk. I got a blank stare. If he remembered, he would have rolled his eyes, but nothing. Just like that, the OHMYGODIWILLBEAGRANDMA load was put back on.

This was wisdom that he needed to have, but needed to not see my face while doling it out.

I opted for this…

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46 comments to Being A Mom to a Boy

  • Jessica

    Hilarious. But good decisions on your part. And don’t underestimate the power of having a baby in your house. Your son sees that baby every day. He knows how much work that baby is. And he will probably be more careful because he realizes the actual consequences. Good job, mom.

  • Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]

    You are pretty much the best mom in the history of ever.

  • Colleen

    LOVE THAT NOTE! I’ll have to write a similar one in a few years! :)

  • Nanette

    You rock, Tena.

  • Ashley

    I have a son who will be 3 next month and there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t have a small panic attack about how he will be in his teen years! Haha. But I will save this note for future reference!

  • Brittany

    I love you.

  • JustinRHoffman

    Way to invest in a good brand. CHEAP CONDOMS MAKE CHEAP CHILDREN.

  • Meghan

    I freaking love you.

  • Sara Stanton

    Oh my! I am a mother to three boys (14/9/5) and although I am not there yet I totally loved this!

  • Jen

    Great post! My son did however make me a grandma at 39, despite The talks, the condoms AND having little sisters 10 and 12 years his junior in the same house. Sometimes kids choose what is dumbest no matter what we do. I have no guilt or shame in how I raised him though, he will make some poor choices and there’s nothing I can do about it short of going on every date with him from here on out. Everyone (I think ) should be as transparent as this post.

  • Al_Pal

    Awesome. Well-done!

  • Kassia

    From a mom of girls… THANK YOU!!

  • Jessica

    I have 2 boys (10 & 8) and I have a feeling I will be re-writing that note numerous times! Thank u for ur honesty, it’s something many of us need to hear and or think about!

  • Elaine A.

    You’re good with me copying that letter verbatim in about 8 years, right?

  • VDog

    That is so awesome.

  • Marinka

    I’m going to give my son that note as soon as he wakes up. He’s 10. We both thank you.

  • Grumble Girl

    Well done - these are the necessary evils we need to swallow… he’s cringing (of course) but he hears you. He’s taking it all in, even with the dramatic eye-rolls… he hears you. It’s in the grey matter, for sure.

    Also? It’s your job to do it… good for you. And YAY for working on not becoming a grandmother before your time. *shudders*

    You rock the hard jam, lady. xox

  • Barb

    well played! :)
    I might plagiarize your note for my 18 y/o

  • “Also, bad things can happen to your junk and that shit never goes away.” | We Know Awesome

    [...] courtesy of Awesome friend, Tena [...]

  • Amylk

    Best Mom EVER! You got your point across. Good for you.

  • Dina

    I love this. It’s perfect in so many ways. And I will ‘steal’ this when/if I have a child.

  • Megan {{Millions of Miles}}

    I was linked here by a FB friend. I freaking LOVE this!!!! Well played. We’ve got to be the generation of parents who doesn’t duck our heads in the sand and say “My kid would never…” Way to be proactive!

  • liza

    this is awesome. i have small 3 boys and i will so remember this when they get bigger. good for you. :)

  • WC Mom

    I’m going through this now with my 14 year old daughter. When it first became apparent that she was considering losing her virginity at such a young age and trying to keep it secret, I more than a little freaked out. I have been having sex talks with her for years, but I still felt unprepared for this. Suddenly I was all up in her business, reading through her Facebook, trying to find out all the information I could. But all it did was make me scared about things I had no control over whatsoever. So I calmed myself down and stopped threatening to put a chastity belt on her. And we started having honest conversations about intimacy, the good and the bad. I stopped snooping on her. And she started keeping things honest between us. She’s still a virgin, but still thinking about going further with her boyfriend. She’s also upfront with me about it. This last time she had a very mature conversation with me about getting on BC. And while this is so not my favorite thing to do, I told her I would - because I don’t want to be a grandma in my 30s either. Sometimes all we can do is give them the tools to work with, and then trust them to use them to the best of their ability. They may not be the choices we made for them, but they’ll likely turn out ok. After all, we did. Right?

  • Emily @ The Happy Home

    that note is AMAZING. one of the best lines i got from my mom was, “if you’re having a kid, you better plan on taking care of it. i already RAISED mine.” not that she wouldn’t be around to help, but i knew early my parents were not going to swoop in and rescue me if things didn’t turn out well. this is EXACTLY what your kid needed to hear!

  • Sharon

    I have a son and a daughter. Both who I encourage to practice safe sex and they are 12 (son) and 16 (daughter). I talk openly with them any time they have questions (no notes needed)because waiting until later may be too late. And NO neither of them is sexually active.
    Good post hope others will learn from it.

  • Christina Gleason @ Cutest Kid Ever

    Well played!

  • Bon

    I’d have done the same with my kid (re: the almost midnight chat.)

    Also “that shit never goes away” is the clincher on a fantastic note. :)

  • Treading Water in the Kiddie Pool

    That note was hilarious! As a mom of two boys (they are still very little) I think I’m going to print this out and save it and just hand them YOUR letter some day.

  • cindy w

    Wow, good for you. My girls are tiny (5 & almost-1), but I worry about this kind of stuff too for their teen years. As a friend put it, “With a son, you have to worry about one penis. With a daughter, you have to worry about ALL THE PENISES.”

    I’m totally going to be copying this in about 10+ years. Yikes. I really don’t want to be a grandma in my 40s.

  • Jami

    My son is now 16. When he was 14, I found an unopened condom packet in the washing machine after doing a load of his clothes. We had had “THE talk” when he started into puberty 2 years before, and I don’t know if he was sexually active then or was just being prepared, but I’m glad that the part about being careful stuck with him. The package that I found in the washer I discretely handed back to him that night and told him not to use it, since it had been run through the wash and probably wasn’t good any more. He was embarrassed, but turned all kinds of red when I then told him that if he needed more to just let me know and I’d put them on the shopping list. However, his reply was that if he’s old enough to be using them, he’s old enough to buy them himself.

  • Kimmad

    I have three boys - still young at 9, 7 and 5. I’m also totally saving this in my head for future reference. Perfect!

  • mara

    You are one smart woman. While it’s not your job necessarily to prevent every cut and scrape your boy was bound to get, it is your job to help him be successful in his life, which includes having sex responsibly. Personally, I’m surprised that other woman is so blasé about her three sons all being teen dads.

  • Debra

    You are one smart mama! This is awesome…..I’ll have to keep it in mind when I have to have the talk with my own son (he’s only 4 now!).

  • Katie

    You are a very smart mother.

    I am the mother of 4 boys. Ages 11, 7, 6, and 2. My oldest knows he can talk to me or my husband about anything. I’ve already had the sex talk with him and he knows. He also knows that if he has sex I want to know so that I can make sure he is protected. I don’t want details just that he is doing it or not. He knows that if a question does arise that I will answer it no matter how gross or weird it is. He knows that I won’t judge and I won’t yell. Those parents out there that just assume their kids aren’t doing anything because they told them not to are blind and will regret it.

  • Christine DeMaio-Rice

    I am sorry - I DO love the note, but I don’t see how helicoptering your children and preventing them from learning how to take a bump or a bruise makes them mature enough to keep their pants on.

    But I do love the note.

  • tena

    Christine, that was an analogy to our different ways/stages of parenting at that time.By no means did I think it would have any bearing on my son’s ability to “keep his pants on”.

  • Nicki

    Good for you, Tena!!! He will appreciate it even if he acts like he doesn’t!!!!! But can you imagine his face if you bought extra large ones ribbed for her pleasure? Lol.

  • tena

    BITE YOUR TONGUE, NICKI! My nerves were frazzled from what I was able to do already.

  • Great Read: Being a Mom to a Boy

    [...] The mom shrugged me off when I asked for a washcloth to hold on his wounds to stop the bleeding, shooed her hand at me, “Meh, it’s nothing. You’ll see much worse that that! You should have seen when Michael broke his arm in three places and bones were sticking out of his skin.” Read the entire post at  [...]

  • Katt

    Important to remember condoms are thinner now, lube is necessary. Or there will be breakage. My 51 year old sister is a grandma of a 2 year old. So talk, talk and buy them good stuff. Don’t depend on them to spend their money on the good stuff, make it a gift from the condom fairies. Btw, my 25 year old daughter tells me that Amazon sells good condoms at good prices. And you never have to risk embarrassment at the store.

  • Patti Bagadion

    I am Mom to two boys, 10 & 12. The 10 year old has a girlfriend. His brother agreed to chaperone their “date” at Subway on the last day of school. All I could think when they told me this was “How cute,” and “I thought I’d have more time before this stuff started. I hope when the time comes and maybe it already has, I’ll have the courage to write or say something like that.

  • Leslie

    I am a mother of a 7 y/o boy and I don’t want him to go through what I did with him. I was a teen mom and I wish my parents would have been as open about sex with me as you are with your son. WAY TO GO!!!

  • Manic Mom

    You are so crazy!!! I have missed reading your blog so very much. Life has been too crazy around here, but I am back writing. So, it looks like I have a ton of catching up to do with you and your family. Look forward to it though! Hugs!

  • Brandy Lindsey

    I love this! I have a son as well and when he hits that age I may have to steal this idea.

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