What I Know For Sure: Life Lessons Raising Boys
By Steph Breunig, HR Practice Leader
As parents, things happen constantly in our lives that remind us that we don’t know much about anything. Being the parent of teenagers, you are reminded of this verbally nearly every day. While I am far from an expert, there are a few things I do know for sure, (and many things I’ve yet to discover I know nothing about I am sure.)
What I know for sure is that nothing is certain.
We thought we’d get married and start having kids right away. There was no reason to think it would be a problem. But a problem it was. So, when we were finally blessed…and 16 months later, blessed again…and 15 months later, blessed again- all boys- we were equal parts overjoyed, completely stressed and sleep-deprived. Having three boys under 3 years was tough – but add to that working as a full-time teacher and completing my Masters at the same time, well, that is the definition of insanity. That was our first lesson in uncertainty-to be followed by many more. It’s a painful way to realize that nothing is certain, but also a great reminder to appreciate those little gifts when they are given.
What I know for sure is that raising these boys has been about letting go.
If you know me, you may know I am a little bit intense at times and kind of a control freak. I’ve had to work really hard at relaxing what I think should be happening at all times. Worrying about oneself sometimes is hard enough – imagine trying to manage the lives of three boys. So I remind myself constantly to just take a breath and let it happen.
Sam, our middle guy, has taught me so much as a mom and a human. He has great musical talent, he’s smart and hilarious. He also challenges me at every turn and questions everything. I may not always appreciate it when I am grounding him from video games, and he makes me provide a thesis on the behavioral psychology surrounding punitive punishments and the evidence of its value. But in reality, he helps me to figure out what is really important and to just relax. I pick my battles more wisely as a parent because of Sam.
What I know for sure is that the last kid should be heard even if they tend to be quiet.
I have this memory of our first born Max, 4 yrs old at the time, going on the bus to PreK. I had this pit in my stomach from the time he got on the bus until I called to find out how his day went. I must admit, I had it better than many moms. His awesome Aunt Nita was our daycare provider and the bus driver was Max’s Grandpa Marv – Max was always in great hands, literally with family, yet it was my first born letting go and going out into the world and his independence was so hard for me.
That letting go happens over and over again. And that pit is ferociously forming at the moment – this time because I ‘m really letting him go again. This time it’s HS graduation and out to Virginia Military Academy to major in International Studies and play lacrosse. He’s also commissioning Army ROTC. We are so proud of him- maybe that’s part of that pit in my stomach too.
What I know for sure is that raising these boys has taught me to relax my expectations.
It was unintentional but fitting that this last point is regarding my last born, Ben – the caboose of this Breunig train, sensitive dude that he is. Ben is a kind, empathetic, smart kid-super into all things tech-y.
He’s always been very easy going – I often think about how he would just sit so happily in his countertop swing, so different from the other two who were much more demanding at that age. Why the counter you may be asking? That was the safest place for him with 16 month old and 2 ½ yr old brothers around. That nature continued – like when he started putting his own lost teeth in baggies and labeling them. He knew I was the Tooth Fairy and that I have sort of a teeth phobia, and I think, didn’t want to bother me. That’s Ben for ‘ya!
Because he is so easy going, it’s easy to lose him in the shuffle. He doesn’t have the demands of the scholar athlete in terms of travel, equipment, etc. as Max. He’s not as communicative as Sam. Those last kids need extra attention to not be glossed over. When we do get the chance to have real conversations, they are amazing and really give insight into his character.
What I know for sure is that these 3 teenage boys go through 9 gallons of milk and 3 dozen eggs a week. That the smallest men’s shoes in my house are size 11s and they are not done growing. I know for sure that COVID has given us amazing amounts of family time this past year that we otherwise wouldn’t have had. And what I also know for sure is that while parenting is raising these boys to become the awesome young men the world needs them to be, they are really raising me – And I wouldn’t trade my grocery bill, or these wonderful young men, for anything.