I recently asked a writer friend of mine for her perspective. As the mom of three girls, I wanted to hear what she had to say to me as the mama of three boys. It seems other-worldly to even posit what it would be like in a home loaded with estrogen instead of testosterone. It’s an intriguing and terrifying consideration.
Here are Marietta’s thoughts. I just love her to bits…
About a year ago, the oldest of my three daughters was scheduled to meet a photographer at a local garden for her senior portraits. We had been waiting for the appointment for several months, and planned to have family pictures taken afterwards. The photographer felt that April would give us the prettiest weather and blooms, while still allowing a few weeks before graduation to have the photos processed.
It was a beautiful day, but the afternoon forecast held a chance of thunderstorms, and at home, our own storm was brewing. Family tension turned into a full-blown discussion with angry, hurtful words. Twenty minutes before it was time to leave, we were still sitting at the kitchen table trying to untangle ourselves from the argument.
Meanwhile, dark clouds rolled in and it began to rain. The photographer called, expressing concern, but I refused to be deterred. We would be there, by golly, and unless a downpour prevented it, this mother was going to have a senior picture of her daughter. This wouldn’t be the first time we smiled through our hypocrisy.
Later that evening, as we drove home from the photo shoot, and a concert we had attended afterwards, we reflected on the craziness of the day. “’It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’” I quoted, and everyone agreed. Strangely, that has become a recurring theme over the past year and a half. Family tensions remain. At the same time, we have created many happy memories.
The result of this topsy-turvy lifestyle has been that I often feel inadequate and threatened, both in my role as a mother and as a wife. My relationships with my daughters and with my husband are being redefined daily as we experience the first leaving of the nest. I have been shaken.
In the context of all of this, dear Cindy entered, asking me to be a guest writer on her blog. I was pleased to say “yes,” and eager to write something worthy. Later, when she gave me the topic, I was a little less enthused: “advice for moms raising boys from a mom raising girls.” Hmmm. I’m not sure people really like advice. I really don’t know anything about boys. Come to think of it, I’m not feeling like I know very much about girls. So the thinking went.
Point your children to Christ in all things – Whether we’re raising boys or girls, it’s the same goal. Admittedly, this can be tedious work. It’s easy to feel that we should be doing something bigger or more important with our time. Maybe it doesn’t really matter who left toothpaste in the sink again, or whose turn it is to do the dishes, whether the chores get done on Saturday, or whether you’re really listening to me at the dinner table.
Continue to diligently follow Jesus and help your family follow Him – I love the way Tedd Tripp puts it in his DVD series The Case for Kids. He says, “We think these little moments don’t make any difference. Those are the moments you have with your children. And ten thousand little moments makes the character of a life. God is the God of little moments.” Yes, life is so many moments, so many snapshots. Sometimes we’re at our best, sometimes we’re at our worst. But God is always for us, in all things.
Now before you cry foul, let me say that I have also mulled over thoroughly the notion of boy-girl differences, and I acknowledge that there are some. I tried to picture myself with boys, and I pictured the house looking a lot more dirty and banged-up than it already is. I pictured myself going to pour a glass of orange juice and wondering who drank straight from the bottle and deciding to have coffee instead. It’s true that when my girls were little, they didn’t struggle with potty talk, turn everyday objects into guns, or leap from the furniture. On the other hand, they didn’t come out of the womb crocheting doilies either.
Boys become men, and some of them are better at it than others – By the time I was nineteen (the age of my oldest daughter, and the age of my husband when we first met), even as a new Christian, I had formed some definite opinions about what made a godly man marriage material. I had a checklist of requirements for my future mate, and if a young man didn’t measure up, there was no need for a first date.
So I decided to ask my daughters if they had ever made a list of the qualities they were looking for in a potential husband. I was pleased to find that they each had a list, and that they were very open and willing to share many of the qualities with me. Here are some of the things they said:
–He is a strong Christian, able to lead and encourage spiritually.
-He is responsible, hard-working, and able to support himself financially.
-He values his own purity as well as mine.
-He treats his mother and sisters (if any) well.
-He is kind.
-He has a sense of humor.
-He is willing to serve others.
-He is a good communicator.
-He is emotionally mature.
-He loves children.
-He shares some of my interests.
Thank you, dear daughters, for your many gifts to me. I treasure you each more than you could know. May you find the man of your dreams, the man of God’s choosing. And may God bless you, mother of this young man, with wisdom and strength as you parent him in the little moments of daily life, and as you keep an eye to the future. I have been praying for you.
Questions: What part of Marietta’s list of qualities speaks the most to you? What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts, I’m listening!
I think what is most beautiful about her daughter’s list is how stable it is. It’s so foundational. I remember being asked to right a similar list, which entailed many superficial qualities. I remember a big one being “extroverted like me,” which was quickly marked off the list when I met the most amazing, introverted man on the planet–my husband. I think a lot of times girls have this list in their head that is too specific in all the wrong places (like I once was). But these girls! I hope my daughters make a list like this one day.
If I could add to the list, I would add loving. It’s what Ephesians (and many other places in Scripture) calls him to do. He needn’t be perfect at it, but always willing and working to love more fully and deeply. Yes, love is important.
Depending on when you meet your husband, “able to support himself financially” might be difficult. When I met Andrew, he was in college (18) and his parents supported him so he could focus on school. But, I think the key here is “hard working” (which your girls nailed!) A lot of times, I really doubt there is anyone who works harder than my husband. And when he was ready to propose, he got himself a job, saved up, started his own lawn-care business, and we got married. I’ve never seen so much drive in anyone. And I think that’s what I want my boys to be and my girls to marry, hard-working Jesus Lovers. I think society is really full of a bunch of little boys in men’s clothing.. A hard working man, who can find?
Thanks for sharing Marietta (and Cindy)!
Great to hear from you Hannah! I made my own “list” when I was dating and mine lacked a lot of deep things though they were specific. When my husband/then boyfriend did a few of those things which were on my unusual list, I felt that he was the guy! God has confirmed that over and over again! I always ask my boys about their future careers, “Can you feed your wife and babies doing that? They are going to want to eat!” I love your perspective, thanks for sharing!
*write not right (I remember being asked to WRITE a similar list).
Hannah, don’t worry, you’re still awesome to me! 😉
I would add to the list: not addicted to video/computer games! That might sound funny, but I’ve personally experienced just how horrible/destructive that can be in a marriage. (First marriage, Cindy – not in my current marriage. 😉
Lisa, this is also very true. I am troubled by young adults who seem unable to live in reality and are consumed with the gaming culture. Many times I’ve wondered how do those people deal with real world issues and struggles that make someone act like a grown up? I really appreciate your comment!
Hey! That’s my husband they have described and he is WONDERFUL! I would say that the only thing on that list that we had to work on was communication. He was not a great communicator and I am all about communicating. He didn’t have a chance! The thing is, he truly wanted to be a good communicator and was willing to work at it. I remember a time when communication had shut down between us and God said, “Go after him.” I replied, “Why do I have to be the one to bend first?” God then said, “Because communication is your strength, not his.” From that moment on, I trusted God to help us get to the place we needed to be. It didn’t happen over night, but it did happen. I bent my knee more than once. I am thankful that I did not let my pride get in the way, that I was responsive to God’s leading, and now benefit fully from the fruit of my obedience – intimate communication with my husband. It was worth the humbling that I went through to get it.
Thanks Carol! Don’t you wonder what the Lord has said to your husband about ways he has helped you? I know God has used my husband to heal parts of my life and improve me! You are a great team!
You know that is right! I could make a long list of how my husband, being who he is, his strengths, have brought healing into my life. It is one of beauties of marriage – iron sharpening iron. Though I was talking about communication, I think I would add humility to the list – a willingness to submit to God foremost and to others when the circumstances call for it.
Beautifully said Marietta!
If I were to add a quality, I would add good listener and the ability to be present enough to see, really see each other, even when it is not obvious.
I love that your girls have lists now. I’m going to invite my son to do the same. What a blessing to consider this now, before dating arrives.
Cara, that is a great idea! I’d love to hear about that! I’ve been impressed with the qualities my boys are looking for in their wives and my prayer is that they find the right woman to make them even better men! Thanks for your comment!
Thanks for sharing, Cindy and Marietta! As the mom of two boys, I think this is going to be printed and shared. 🙂
Thanks Amy! I appreciated Marietta and her girls’ insights into this mysterious world which you and I don’t quite understand! 😉