Fingerprints on every glass surface in your house, blankets arranged into forts, bath time turns into “Now I have to scrub the entire bathroom,” clothes out of the dryer with weird, baked-on items from little pants pockets, various action figure body parts everywhere, grass and mud stained sneakers, cookie crumbs in couch cushions, dirt streaks down arms, and hair wet with sweat—all signs that you are the Mom of a Boy or Boys.

I mean no disrespect to moms with girls. That’s a whole other article, for which I am not qualified to write. I’d be interested to hear the stories, though.

George and I have two boys, now in their 30s. Two athletic and active boys in perpetual motion when they were younger. Georgie is our eldest and Donnie is four and a half years younger.

Being the Mom of Boys is a special gift. From the day they are born, you are their everything. You are their first love, their security, their source of comfort, their world. And they are your everything. That never changes, no matter how old they are.

You become the yardstick by which every female in their lives is measured. (Make sure you teach them never to say, “This is not the way my mother makes it,” to any woman who cooks for them!) You are their ideal woman. For a while, at least.

They have absolute confidence that you will know how to re-inflate their bike tire, diagram a sentence, or operate their remote-control helicopter (even though you end up getting it stuck in a tree). They know without a doubt that you can heal any cut or bruise. They are secure in the knowledge that you can retrieve said helicopter from the tree with no problem (after they pitch a fit, “Look what you did!”) They are sure that you know what the capital of Zimbabwe is, off the top of your head (Harare, I looked it up).

They hover over you as you prepare a huge meal, trying to “taste-test” everything. They polish this meal off in 5 minutes, go back for seconds, and 10 minutes after the kitchen is cleaned up, wander in, open the fridge, and look for something to eat.

They think bodily functions are hilarious and also appropriate dinner table conversation. They turn everything into a sporting event or a competition of some kind. Who can clear their plate fastest? Who can clean their rooms fastest? (That one is rare.) Who can toss this half-eaten dish of salad into the garbage can from 4 feet away? Who can spit water the farthest? Who can be the first one to break this folding table by jumping off the roof onto it?

You become their referee.

Son: Mom, he’s wearing my pants.

Me: Take off your brother’s pants.

Or,

Son: Mom, I have no tee shirts because he took them all and ruined them.

Me: Steal some of your father’s then.

Their need of you changes with the years. From rarely being apart, to packing lunches, to helping with homework, to sleepovers, to buying a suit for a school dance, to endless college catalog reading, to beaming with pride (and shedding a tear or two) at graduation, to the panicked calls from college about being overwhelmed, to once again beaming with pride (and shedding more than a few tears) at graduation, to proof-reading resumes, to worrying throughout their first days at their new jobs, to meeting girlfriends, to dancing the Mother-Son dance at their weddings—through it all, you are still their touchstone.

They love to cuddle. For a few years. That little head on your chest, arms around your neck, sticky kisses, turns into that big head on your shoulder, those long arms reaching stuff on the top shelves for you, the hello and good-bye kisses on your cheeks as they go home to their own places.

The care and concern that you have given to them their whole lives are returned to you when they become adults. Their care and concern when you get a cold, or sound tired, or have a sore back, is heartwarming.

I am the Mom of Boys. And it’s the best title ever!

Ilene Black has been a resident of Ewing for most of her life and lives across the street from her childhood home. She and her husband, George, have two sons, Georgie and Donnie.