Friday, February 15, 2008

little men


Every mother of boys guards a little secret - a secret that goes lightyears beyond the dreary old 'snips and snails and puppy dog tails,' it is the stuff of little boys. The essence of the stuff of little boys is something sacred. There isn't a name for it [at least I've never come up with something adequate], but it can be described in a thousand different ways and through a thousand different little slices of life carved out of our day to day. You find this essence of boys in the adoring smile and the unbidden, impromptu kiss; it's there when the big brother asks if he can pick out little sister's outfit for that day (oh, but shh, he wouldn't be caught dead telling his friends at school - come on, this is special stuff); it can be found in mommy's closet because her shoes are just so fun to try on and her silky robe just feels so good; it whispers by when you see one brother reach out to steady the other brother as they wobble together through knee-deep snow in the backyard; you can get a fleeting glimpse (because time whirls so quickly by) when a little boy sweetly cradles a doll, the one he got as a gift because he wanted it, and gives it a love, the kind mommy gives him; it's the little boy that mommies everywhere get to see before the advancing years of growing up have them in their grasp and carry them steadily way. And suddenly, this essence of little boy, so tender, so innocent, so soft and full of love and whispers and snuggles and giggles gets snuffed out. Now, this doesn't happen immediately; it doesn't always disappear forever. Sometimes it even resurfaces, but it doesn't come back with the full strength that it once had. The moms who are the guardians of this secret something are the ones who can provide a path, a winding way for this essence of the tender little boy to creep out and allow the full measure of the man, who is her son, to be realized and to bless the lives of his future family.

Last night I called to wish my friend, the wife of a deployed Air Force Captain serving in Iraq, a happy Valentine's Day. She, too, is a mother of boys and our conversation really got me thinking about the absolutely genuine core of sweetness that is at the center of a little boy who's working so hard at this business of growing up. She told me about the gifts that her 11- and 8-year-old boys got her. While on an impromptu night-before-Valentine's-Day trip to Wal-Mart her sons explained that they wanted to leave her and go look in a different section of the store for a bit. She said okay and they met afterward and went to the check-out lines. Her oldest then explained that he had something to buy and that her line was too crowded. So the boys went to the next line over. On Valentine's Day, the next day, they presented her with their gifts. The 8-yr-old had chosen a daffodil plant - he had watched his mother and knew how she loves flowers - and bought it with his own money. His 11-yr-old brother had tried to think about what his mom would want and chose a crystal box with a rose carved on it. One thing is certain: my friend is another mother who guards this secret about boys. They are sweet, and soft with a true capacity for pure love, a sacred tenderness that needs defending.

After hearing her tell this story I thought about my friend's little boys, how they must have planned and thought about their mom and what she would want for Valentine's Day, maybe even fretted about how they were going to be able to get themselves to the store without divulging their secret plans. With Daddy not there, I'm guessing that they had wanted to do their part to fill in what was missing on this special day when we focus on those we love. And naturally, their thoughts were on their mommy. Their selected gifts were dripping with little boy sweetness, in the flowers that will brighten their home and their Mommy's heart and in a little crystal box that is ironically something she probably never would have chosen for herself but is now a treasure because it came from the sweet heart of her boy...who will so soon be a man. And my guess is that these boys will attain that full measure of a man because they have a mom and dad who have paved the path and shown them the way and loved them enough to let them just be little boys while cherishing every sweet minute.

So here's to our little boys.

6 comments:

Paige said...

Sweet little valentines. Now if only I could figure out how to get another little boy without running the risk of another girl...

Lauren said...

That was seriously, beautiful! I savored every word! As a mom of 3 boys the whole post just spoke to me so beautifully. You are an amazing writer!

Shannon said...

Hi Janelle. I got on your post through Emily and then Paige. I'm discovering how small the blogging world is and how fun it is to catch up with people I haven't seen in years. This post was so well written and beautifully stated. I have 3 boys myself, and know just what you're talking about. They do have a secret, special tenderness about them. Great to "see" you again... hope you won't mind if I check in on you every now and again. (tell your Mom & Erin "hi" from me!) XOXO Shannon (Williams) Carver

katie said...

what?! where are these boys that you speak of?! I have 4! only my youngest loves me enough for valentines... sigh... lucky girls.

Hollyween said...

Such a sweet post! I think I'll be sad if I don't have another boy. Levi has been such a fun one. But he didn't leave me a valentine!!!

Alice said...

My sweet girl: I don't even know what to say except that I'm glad you're my grandsons'mom and that you appreciate all those endearing things that only a mother of a boy could know. You should find a way to publish this because it eloquently and sweetly speaks the feelings that so many mothers that might find it hard to express for themselves, but carry it in their hearts.
Love you,
Mom