I know you’ve been eyeing me for some time now. You wonder why my kids always have stained shirts. You wonder why they’re constantly bruised or scratched. You can’t figure out why my bathroom constantly smells a little like. . . well, it’s unpleasant. You sat on my couch and a matchbox car rolled out from behind a couch cushion. You wonder why it always sounds like a medical emergency and/or bathroom emergency is happening in a zoo when you call me to chat. You say adorable things like, “I’ll bring some crayons so the kids can color while we talk.” and then you’re mystified when my kids eat the paper and shove the crayons up their noses.

My first two kids were boys. And you had girls.

You’re now getting ready to make the transition from a mom of only girls to a mom who experiences the full range of chaos that comes with having kids of both genders. Mama, you’re in for a wild ride.

You know the beauty and fun that comes from having darling girls who will join you in tea parties and dress-up games. You have shown up to places in coordinating outfits with your delightful daughters and people have gasped with the adorableness.

Boys come with their own fun and cuteness. But what you’ll notice most isn’t what’s different about them, but what is different about you because of them.

You become less judgey when you’re a mom of a son. Suddenly things that seemed like just bad parenting now make much more sense. Holes in the wall, spaghetti shoved in pants pockets, dresser drawers full of rocks (WHY), and toilets that appear to have been splatter painted by something you’d rather not know about—ALL of these situations go from terrible things that only happen to lax parents, to your everyday reality. And it’s okay. When you learn to roll with the kind of chaos that happens with boys, you learn to give grace to other moms when you walk into their home and see the tangle of yarn across their hallway and know immediately that someone was perfecting his Spiderman skills.

Having a son means learning to accept hugs that end in tackles and cheek kisses that involve a little too much tongue because someone was pretending to be a puppy. Affection from a little boy can be aggressive and often comes cloaked in silly games and surprises. It teaches you to enter their world so you can experience more. Sometimes if you want a hug you need to be the train that crashes into them or the frog that hopped into their pond or the Mama Bear looking for her cub.

Being the mom of a boy means learning a new language of construction vehicles, superheroes, video games, and sports figures. My brain is full of Pokemon characters I wish I didn’t have to know. I’m pretty sure when I struggle to remember the exact ratio of flour to butter to milk to cheese to make the cheese sauce I like, it’s probably because that part of my brain is now taken over by the frequently quoted Star Wars dialogue I’m expected to remember. I have become a person who can get such vicarious enjoyment through watching my boys excel in activities I’d generally have no use for. And nobody tell my sons I secretly think their bathroom humor is kind of hilarious.

Your little boy is going to bring a special joy to your family, a new energy, and his own brand of fun. He is also going to be spoiled and loved by big sisters who may be your strongest asset when it comes to civilizing him. Your girls are going to delight in his antics and he is going to learn how to use his Captain America action figure in intense Barbie interactions that a boy without sisters might not have enjoyed.

Having kids of both genders allows your children to explore all the beautiful, playful options there are in the world. They can run from their tea seat to their Hot Wheels track and back again. My boys had access to dolls before they had sisters, but they didn’t quite know how to use them. Now I take joy in imagining what great dads they will be in part because of the imaginative play they’ve been able to experience with their sisters. When a little girl demands, “You be the dad.” then YOU BE THE DAD. And my girls have learned if you want to run with the big boys, you’ve got to develop some toughness and grit. They soften my boys, but they’ve also learned the joy of how your brothers cheer when you solidly connect with the ball during neighborhood kickball tournaments.

Mama, this is going to be fun both for you and for your girls. It will change what you thought you knew about motherhood, but it will change it for the best. Your son will do that to you. And you will forever be grateful.

Maralee Bradley

Maralee is a mom of six pretty incredible kids. Four were adopted (one internationally, three through foster care) and two were biological surprises. Prior to becoming parents, Maralee and her husband were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise 17 boys during their five year tenure. Maralee is passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making her family a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries and doing it all for God’s glory. Maralee can be heard on My Bridge Radio talking about motherhood and what won't fit in a 90 second radio segment ends up at www.amusingmaralee.com.