Though I am far from an experienced Mother of Three Boys, this is what I can share now, nearly a decade into parenthood and almost five years with three.
Truth, or myth? Here we go . . .
With three boys you must have your hands full.
MYTH, SORT OF: I have never really understood why this expression seems to be put side by side with parenthood. Even before children my hands were full with working, graduate school, avocations, and charitable work. Parenthood, and parenting three boys, has not changed that. The hands were full before, and they’re full now.
Your house must be like a fraternity.
SOMEWHAT TRUE: There is a tremendous amount of scary, very scary cleaning involved with having three boys (and, I suspect, three girls, for that matter). And even though we are endeavoring to teach them to clean their own messes and organize their own belongings, that is a serious work in progress, and we are so not there yet.
It must be hard being the only girl.
MYTH: It actually isn’t, for me, anyway. I mean, there’s the cat, and one of my dogs is a girl, but, honestly, parenting a human with two “x” chromosomes is not and has never been essential to my happiness.
Your grocery bill must be astronomical.
TRUTH: I can barely discuss the amount of money we have spent and spend at our local Stop and Shop. It’s nothing short of horrifying—and my children are still so far from the 3000-calorie-a-day teenage boy years that I can only imagine what’s on the horizon. I need to win the lottery.
You must be exhausted.
TRUTH: Of course, I’m exhausted. Any parent of three boys under ten who tells you he or she is not exhausted is either lying or . . . is lying. Period.
MYTH: Right now as I write this my two oldest are playing a game together, and my youngest is embroiled in an episode of Sesame Street. It is not loud; in fact, it’s quiet enough I can put a sentence together that is cogent enough for public consumption. It’s not always this blissful, but it is quite far from the rave I think some might imagine.
They must wrestle/jump/run all the time.
MYTH: In a small Victorian home burdened with large furniture and more than a dozen bookcases with sharp edges, the space for these shenanigans is limited and not remotely safe. So we stop it the second it starts because it’s either that or the emergency room; and we’ve seen enough of that, thank you very much.
SOMEWHAT TRUE: Check our wall trim and you’ll see the dings. The lampshade in the living room is crooked for reasons I don’t fully understand. The couch in the playroom, unless it is swathed in its cover, is a horror show of stuffing and torn fabric. Three boys live here, there is no mistaking that, but a few nice things have escaped their youthful fervor. I’m hoping this bodes well for future nice things—once I win that lottery I spoke of earlier.
But the biggest truth of having three boys is the one that is the most obvious: Three little boys, brothers with limitless imaginations and unbridled capacities to love, have changed our lives in ways we never could have anticipated, in ways that cause us to sometimes wonder how we ever got so lucky.