Four mamas, nine boys between us. The oldest is fifteen, the smallest fiercely five, and we’ve been through it. From infertility to a whole lot of surprising fertility, from spectrums and conditions to hand-wringing and tears. We’ve seen the inside of a lot of hospitals and churches and counselors’ offices and McDonalds, laughed and snorted and cried and blushed and spent a lot of time with the mouth hanging open and the did-you-really-just-do-that shrieking at a high pitch.
Being a mama of boys (or girls, for that matter, though our particular batch of girls is awfully well-mannered and easy… Girls are not any more or less wonderful or necessarily simpler to raise, but this post is not about them. That’ll keep for another day.) But back to my point — being a mama of boys is not for the faint-hearted. You realize after a while that these little creatures are making plans, and they are not your plans. They are diving into danger with gusto and not much forethought, and pretty soon all the mamas are running full-tilt behind them, hollering out cautions and suggestions aplenty. We are raising little men, and they are rocketing into the future faster than we can rein them in.
These are the men who will shape the world.
You realize when you’ve been around the ring a time or two that after a while the decisions to be made come down to your boy and God. None of the steam you can produce from both ears, none of the dreams you’ve dreamed can alter the story written for him; your boy is on a journey you haven’t scripted, making choices you would undo and letting the chips fall. Think of the long history of the world, the Jacobs and Esaus and Moseses, the Roosevelts and the Edisons and the MLKs. Think of all the mamas, running behind, waving a handkerchief vainly to keep them from boarding that train. Wouldn’t you have cleaned up their stories a bit? Wouldn’t you have wiped away the ugly parts? But then they’d never have become who they were, and our collective story wouldn’t be what it is.
If I were Mary, and I could somehow save my boy from his long, troubled road, I would, I would. But the nail that sank into his story turned out to be the fulcrum that levered the whole broken world out of the mess we were in. That ugly nail was grace.
So how do we pray these boys into men? What do we do when they’re rushing headlong into disaster?
Well, I guess there are a lot of squawks that sneak out before we get the hand over the mouth, a lot of lurching stomachs when we peek through the fingers. God give us the grace to hide our face in His shoulder and let Him do all the watching and worrying.
I find myself praying for grace a lot these days; praying for the grace to let go, the grace to be patient, the love to expect all things, believe all things, endure all things. I pray for faith in the Author and His perfectly beautiful story, and I remember all of the great men who started life as impetuous, not-always-wise boys. I pray for grace to put down what I’m doing and listen, really listen, whenever I can; for the first thing I say in the morning and the last thing I say at night to be sweet, and not overfull of finger-wagging.
I pray for my friends’ boys, the ones with impossible hurdles ahead, and I remember that with God all things are possible.
Four mamas, nine boys. Boys who will break bones and forget homework and visit tattoo parlors and leap off of tall things, scale mountains, raft rivers, join rock bands, and kiss girls. Nine men who will be overcomers—courageous, visionary, strong, kind, humble, and mostly? Very, very loved. Four women who will learn (sometimes the hard way) to trust in our good, good Father, and share His delight in the escapades of silly, impulsive, fearless, wise-cracking little boys.