There’s a hidden club out there. You may not know it exists, but it’s there. The members are usually exhausted, sitting in a corner, glass of red wine in hand, mumbling incoherently about that elusive stink in the house and whereohwhere is it for the love of all things holy.
We are the Sisterhood of Sons. Moms with only boys. I didn’t recognize this quiet group until I was a member for a few years.
We see each other out and about, with smiles and gritted teeth, with knowing glances and sighs. We survived being target practice during diaper changes (when the cold air hits that little member, it’s like the fountain show at the Bellagio). We grudgingly accept that the only pink on our sons is the glow on their cheeks when they come in from the cold. We know that there are no Polly Pockets in the bedrooms, and the only dolls in the house are usually the ones we grew up with, and are in storage in the basement. We trip over the Hot Wheels racetrack set up on the stairs, the one Dad put together with the boys because it reminded him of doing that with his own brother. We know more about Star Wars than we thought possible, and will actually argue with our sons and their friends about it, because we were around when the movies originally came out, don’t screw with me, I know what I’m talking about, Han shot first.
We don’t play tea party, but we know the words to “Buffalo Bob Only Ate Baked Beans.” It’s a fart song. I know the words to too many fart songs. We say “fart,” “poop,” and “pen!$” more than we ever imagined, and are comfortable doing so. In fact, pen!$ talk is constant. That little dangly bit is the source of endless entertainment, conversation, and questions of why we don’t have one.
Women in the Sisterhood of Sons are caught between two worlds. We have to raise creatures very very different from ourselves. We have our own feminity to protect and enhance, yet we often must sacrifice that very feminity for our sons. This is known as the hair cut & color vs. Cub Scout outing dilemma.
It’s difficult to describe the “look” that the women in this exclusive club have. I don’t see it in women who have both boys and girls, and it’s certainly not there in women who have only girls. It’s a look of mental toughness, of struggling to raise strong men who still have a gentle side, of trying not to go completely off the deep end after the fifteenth round of “who can burp the loudest.” During dinner. With your mother in law. I think this look, often appearing around the eyes, may only be recognizable to other women in the Sisterhood.
And here’s the thing. We wear this “look” as a badge of pride, of courage, of honor. Having only sons has changed me, has sent me down a path I never imagined, never even knew existed. Before my second son was born, I was sad for women who didn’t have a daughter. I imagined they felt empty, that something was missing, and how sad they must have been to not raise a girl. And I felt that way from the time of my “hey, it’s another boy!” ultrasound until the minute J was born. At that very moment of his birth I was a new member of the Sisterhood, and those empty feelings disappeared like morning fog.
I am a different woman because of my membership in the Sisterhood of Sons. It’s not a club I ever anticipated joining, but I can’t imagine my life without it. I am stronger, I am happier, and I am more in love with my sons every day. I love my Sisters, feel their pain and loneliness in being the only female in the house, and live for sharing war stories with them.
If you’re in the Sisterhood, you’ve read this and nodded the whole way through. Hi, Sister. I bet you stepped on a Matchbox car in the last week, if not this morning, and have had at least one pen!$ conversation in the last 48 hours. Now, if you will all excuse me, I have a bottle of red wine to stick in the fridge, and for the love of all things holy, whereohwhere is that stink coming from?