The Company We Keep | Where the Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

 

Over the summer the first anniversary of Where the Boys Are came and went quietly without any attention brought to it. But this weekend as I gathered the images and words into this space the significance of that milestone washed over me. 

For a year we have kept each other's company and weaved our stories of motherhood as the lone female together in an intimate way. All so that we can know, and you can know, that we are not walking this journey alone. Good, bad, indifferent, significant, mundane we are in this together. 

These men, yes, they will all become men, are the company we keep everyday and they fill our hearts and our minds with unique perspective on the world. They challenge the stereotypes of what raising boys "should be" and write their own stories. 

I'm going out on a limb here to say that at one  point or another we have each heard something along the lines of our lives being less because we are not raising a girl. And yes, we will never know that life but that doesn't mean a girl isn't being raised in our homes.

These men give us the unique experience of learning and growing and being raised in so many ways that make us better people. And isn't that the point of being mindful of the company you keep? 

I am thankful to keep the company of these women and their sons. 

Welcome to our September collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

Being a teenager is so hard.  Being the mom of a teenager is so hard.  Sometimes, I ache for that little blonde-headed boy who was the first to call me Mom.  I want so much to wrap you up in my arms and read to you, where you were safe.  Now here you are, bigger than I am.  Some days you think I'm the worst person on earth.  You seem so distant, and we don't connect like we did when you were a child.  Instead of teaching you to read, I'm scrambling to prepare you for the harsh realities of the world.  But then, there are moments of grace.  I think we need more of those. - Abbi Ottman

For both of you, it’s about the journey. No matter how grand the final destination, you have the extraordinary gift of being able to joyfully soak up the present. Day by day, month by month, I watch you grow and pass milestones it seems like we’d never reach. So here is where you become my teacher… teaching me how to be with you, in this moment.

Every day I remind myself to be more like you. - Andrea Moffatt

The greatest feeling in the world is when you're in that soccer field, definitely your favorite season and Yes! I'm your big fan. - Antonieta Esis

Summer – It’s been a blast! We’ve camped, we’ve played in the park till the sun went down, we’ve swam in the sea, we’ve been on your holidays and you’ve done it all with your big brothers at your side. We will all be sad to say goodbye to the summer.  Cool evenings are already drawing in here and it will soon be time to get on a coat for school! With the winter comes your one big wish! You were almost a baby the last time we had proper snow in the UK so here’s to hoping your wish gets granted and we see some “proper,-sledging down the hill tops” snow here this year!  - Nina Callow

There are moments where you’re covered in dirt, wiping boogers on your clothes, and grossing me out completely.  But then there are moments when we connect.  While discovering and admiring a cute anole lizard.  And I’m thankful for those moments. - Donya Gjerdingen

The transition from one boys to two has been nothing like I expected. Not because babies are hard work, but because I had no idea what it would mean to my 3 year old. How could I explain the changes that would be in store for us to a preschooler when I had no way of knowing what would happen myself?

After the very brief honeymoon following the birth, we had weeks of meltdowns and plenty of ‘I don’t love Mommy’ and ‘I don’t like the baby’ proclamations. Weeks of struggling to find balance and failing. I spent countless nights questioning our choice to have another baby, feeling like we would live with this chaos and tension in our lives forever.

And then, after one of our lowest points following a meltdown in the middle of Ikea, we slowed down. We prioritized giving both boys the individual attention they needed and ignored all of the extra noise for a while. Things began to click. I started hearing ‘I love you a little bit’ instead of ‘I don’t love you’. I found my preschooler comforting his baby brother when he thought no one was looking. It’s still not always easy and I never seem to have enough hands or time, but we’re finally finding our rhythm. - Kayla Maltese

Sometimes I over estimate what it takes to fill up your love tank. I forget that something as simple as playing a 20 minute game of HORSE with you in the backyard like we did the other night does the trick. I could literally see your whole being light up....your eyes, your smile, your tone of voice. You even complimented me on my basketball skills...which seriously, we all know are completely lacking! Despite that fact, you in turn filled up my mama tank without even knowing it. You probably thought I was beaming because I beat you at that game of HORSE but no...it was all because of you buddy. Well, ok...and a little because I totally schooled you and that will most likely be the only time that ever happens!  - Juli Jones

Trying to record the life and bond of two men they were children as seen through their mother's eyes. - Janielle Granstaff

It was getting late but you were determined to see what your big brothers were getting upto down the street....you waved me goodbye as I watched your scooter fade into the darkness...you are growing up too quick my little man.... - Sarah Roberts

Oh, sweet little brother, You want to do everything in the immediate footsteps of your big brother, but you just can't yet. Your quiet, contentment has turned to deafening frustration, magnified by the delay of your words. You want us to know, to feel, to share, how deeply you dislike these limitations set before you. But, we know, baby brother. We all know. One day, it won't all be so hard. Until then, we carry your frustrations as our own. - Kelly Sutton

Before the mountains call to you, before you leave this home

I want to teach your heart to trust, as I will teach my own

But sometimes I will ask the moon where it shined upon you last

And shake my head and laugh and say, “It all went by so fast.”   

Dar Williams, “The One Who Knows,” The Beauty in the Rain

I want more of this. Lazy weekends where our most pressing agenda item is making it to the playground before dinner. I've been turning over in my head lately what I want to teach them and it turns out "busy" isn't one of those things. Time to make more space for more of this.  - Monica McNeill 

You finally learned to ride a bike without training wheels. Now you beg everyday to go to the local college and ride around campus. I love that you are growing and learning, but sometimes I wish time would slow down. - Amanda Caves

He’s growing up right before my eyes. My baby no longer wants to just go to the park and play on the slides. His dream is to be able to ride the skate park bowl just like the big boys. For his first attempt I think he nailed it.  - Anna Bein

Your brother was invited to go carting with his friends. You’re still too young for that, so we spent some time trying to decide what to do together on the warm summer day. We had all stayed in our PJs for most of the morning playing Parcheesi, so it was time to motivate after your brother left. I begged you to go to the beach. The idea of going without your brother did not appeal to you at all. I kept pleading. Then I had an idea: we could do science and art at the beach! We packed your magnifying glass, your journal, some crayons, and a ruler, as well as one sand toy. We even packed the rest of your gummy bears. At last you agreed to go on a fun adventure with me. I grabbed my favorite film camera before we headed out the door. The fog was still lifting off the salty cove, and after we explored and played, for a while, we had the surprise of a good friend arriving. It was a good day to go to the beach. (Hasselblad 500 cm | Portra 160) - Cate Wnek

Being a mom solely to boys comes with many advantages.  My house is not littered with Barbie paraphernalia (let’s not talk about Legos).  I’ve never had to learn to do girl-hair (whew!).  Clothes shopping is quick, drama-free, and relatively cheap.  Weddings, pshhhaw; all I have to organize is the rehearsal dinner and show up on the wedding day, right?!?  But, for all that … I vividly felt the punch in my gut as my eldest turned 18 and registered for the draft.  So Sobering.  Two more boys to go.  Let’s just say I’ll be watching international affairs with a different level of scrutiny over the next fourteen years.  (note: these 2,977 flags represent those who died in the 9/11 attacks) - Susan Keller