Ah, boys. Where head-butts, bodily noise jokes, and near-death antics never lose their luster. Before any woman is blessed with a male fruit of her loin, she’s at least mildly prepared for the chaos. After witnessing nephews or friends with sons, she knows that boys are wild, messy, and full of more energy than a Kryptonite tank. However, I’m three boys in so far, and I find myself baffled by five evergreen qualities of boys none of us are ever quite prepared for.

Brushes with Death

Honestly. Just last week I threw myself into traffic, shielding my seven-year-old who was running blindly across the street, and later I broke up a brotherly wrestling match that made the UFC look like a peace conference. These precious moments came on the heels of a family hike, where my oldest son nearly met Jesus after attempting to channel the powers of Spiderman and jump his way down off a twenty-foot cliff.

All moms with sons know boys are ridiculously physical, fearless, and nonsensical—often seeming to have goals of ensuring we gray before age forty. I am continually amazed at the terrifying stunts my boys pull, the likes of which mothers of daughters might not even believe. When my youngest sons were four and five, I actually wondered if they’d make it past youth. After coming home one day to the sight of one outside in a tree … naked … in thirty-degree weather … and the other chasing him with kitchen shears, I felt ready for the rapture. Bags are packed, Lord! Anything is better than wondering if your children will survive the fortnight. Boys are fun and adventurous, but what they boast in bravery they lack in awareness of their own mortality.

The upside for us moms is an opportunity to develop a trust and dependence on the Lord, perhaps more than we would in any other season of life. The morning prayers of mothers of boys can literally be reduced to “Lord, keep them all alive while I’m gone,” and “God, give me the energy to survive this day,” while Nerf bullets pound against the bathroom door we’ve locked ourselves behind. #LordHearOurPrayers.

A State of General Pantlessness

This leads us to the next quality, which is a little less life threatening but just as shocking to the soul. After consorting with enough boy-mom friends, I have determined there is indeed a phenomenon of nudity no one is talking about. Oh, my. The parade of man parts that circulates our house daily would amaze the camp of girl-moms. It’s enough to take away my appetite at times. I’m not sure if this is some inward, subconscious call within boys to return to their original Adam-state, but my brood can be found in the nude—at any given time, in any part of the house, no matter the season.

Mothers of daughters might question our decision to let our children run amok in the nude, especially through winter, but after chasing down a five-year-old with Power Ranger undies for two hours, I say pick your battle. Childhood innocence only lasts so long. If this contiues to age eleven, I’ll revisit my position.

Bonding

As women, finding ways to bond and share activities with our boys can obviously be tough. The gap is even more difficult to bridge if you’re an extreme “girly girl” or didn’t have brothers or a consistent male presence growing up. I grew up with all sisters. My childhood was full of glitter art, My Little Ponies, and Caboodles, and naturally I assumed I’d have daughters some day. How else would I pass on my good makeup tricks and French-braid tactics?

At this point, whoever doesn’t believe God has a sense of humor should seriously witness a stiletto-wearing mother barraged by her sword-fighting boys the second she walks in from work. In my seventeen years of raising boys, I have mastered the art of wrestling, memorized the powers of every Lego Ninjago character, perfected every lightsaber technique, and constructed Lego sets I never thought humanly possible. When my oldest turned thirteen, I even attempted to play Xbox, which was admittedly very short-lived … “Mom, you’re shooting yourself! What are you doing?”

Bonding can be a bit more difficult for moms of boys, but I’ve found there’s always a way to get down in the dirt and find entry into their world. It may not feel natural or fun, but some of my most treasured moments have been chasing them around with lightsabers in the dark and trampolining in the middle of February—while those with daughters paint nails snugly inside. I still have a scar from a run-in with a homemade ninja blade. #WoundsOfLove

A Total Lack of Verbiage

This one can be a real shock for moms with the gift of chatter, because the art of formulating meaningful conversations with boys can feel like nothing less than psychological warfare at times. We all know men use half the words women do on a daily basis, but this statistic becomes crystal clear when trying to get the scoop from boys about their day—or almost anything that extends past asking where the remote went. My friend gets a total outpouring of her daughter’s heart after school each day, including a full reveal of why she feels disappointed by the inner workings of fourth grade. When I ask the same question, this is the best answer I get: “It was good.”

“How was recess?”

“It was good … I’m hungry.”

I’ve discovered the key to this muted madness is to catch them at the right time, like when they’re mildly distracted or at bedtime when they’re too beaten down to keep up the emotional walls. Most moms I know have been shocked when their boys open up out of nowhere at the most random times. Ninety percent of my youngest son’s language consists of body jokes and strange noises, yet he’ll burst out with deep pontifications while picking his nose in the back seat of the car, or he’ll share his theory on the differences between the soul and the spirit while making a sand castle. They’re few and far between, but I’ve learned to embrace these moments. When they come, they’re priceless.

The Vanity of a Rock

Okay, this one can be a blessing, right? Coming from a world of women who’ve literally elbowed one another out of the bathroom to get ready, I’m baffled by my boys’ complete and utter disregard for clothes, hair, or anything having to do with their outward appearance. My oldest is now sixteen and just started brushing his teeth without me reminding him—but last week he left wearing his shirt inside out because he was too indifferent to care.

There are always exceptions, but most young boys don’t have a vain care in the world. Up until my boys reached school age, I saved about twenty bucks a month by cutting their hair myself. Some days they left the house looking like they had run headfirst into a lawn mower. No complaints. My youngest unknowingly rocked an uneven bowl cut for three years before a friend intervened on his behalf by sending me a YouTube link about how to cut hair.

Proving God is sovereign and has noticed all the calories we’ve burned trying to keep ’em alive, most boys don’t give a hoot what they wear to school, or anywhere else for that matter, until pre-tweenhood. I’ve stopped my oldest from walking out the door with his hair literally standing on end—and he’s protested every time.

“Mom, it’s FINE!”

“You look homeless. Get back inside.”

This can be a bit frustrating when they attempt to wear the same shirt for days and run like the wind from your comb, but I’ll take stinky socks and a half-washed crew over a household full of girls having meltdowns over not finding the right hair clip and and changing outfits five times a day.

Boys can be exhausting and reckless, but our little dudes are amazing, aren’t they? Their wild curiosity and explorative nature always amaze me. Everything—mixing cookie dough, washing the car, walking through the yard—becomes a wild adventure with boys. I think witnessing their unbridled enthusiasm is a little glimpse into God’s heart, and His way of helping us appreciate the simple things, like the way popcorn pops, the way grass smells after it rains, and “Mom, look how big that pile of dog poo is!”—okay, it’s not all magic.

Here’s to you, moms of men. We’re doing just fine. All we need is endurance, patience, sinful amounts of caffeine, and stock in Band-Aids.