Boys: little terrors or future men of God?

Author: Clare Reay

Boys: little terrors or future men of God?

As a mum of two small boys, Clare Reay is often told she “has her hands full”. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Let me tell you a little bit about my experience as a mother of small boys.

I know an awful lot more about cars than I did 5 years ago. Toys and books aren’t so much played with as perpetually in a cycle of being thrown and then going to Daddy’s Fixing Pile.

Toilet humour is dinner conversation.

Craft activities that take twenty minutes to set up and even longer to clear away are worth approximately seven minutes of entertainment.

Slugs are picked up, food is inhaled, legs are blue with bruises.

When I walk down the street with them, I am constantly told by strangers “you have your hands full there”.

I do. And I consider that a privilege.

Strong men loving God

Some days, being a mum to boys seems like the hardest of challenges.

I know girls can be difficult and throw tantrums too*, but when we’re in the garden and I’m yelling for the hundredth time to PLEASE stop throwing sand/screaming/flooding the grass/hitting each other with the toy wheelbarrow, I can hear our neighbours’ two daughters calmly playing with their fairy garden and I wonder what that must be like.

It is in these moments that I have to remind myself God has entrusted these boys to me.

It is my responsibility to teach them, to nurture them, to make them into strong men who will love God, respect women and live with integrity.

Men who will boldly lead yet humbly serve because they’ve been shown what kindness, compassion and confidence are from a young age.

I think we’ll need a few of those kinds of men in our future church.

What a challenge, right? But what a privilege.

Naturally, a job like that isn’t going to be easy. Maybe these boys are meant to break my heart and my spirit sometimes because only that way can I turn, in pieces, to God and plead “help me, make this journey with me”.

Great mothers

I often find it a comfort to think of great women who were mothers of boys.

I have recently been reading about Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine and have felt truly humbled by her dedication to her son.

Monica prayed and fought for her son’s salvation for seventeen years, despite his often catastrophic decisions and firm resistance. She never gave up.

Her local bishop (later St Ambrose), whom she implored to join her in praying for her son, is famously quoted as telling her: “It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

I pray that I can emulate such dedication.

Of course, they’re not all bad days. These boys also love fiercely, make us laugh like nobody else can, and astound us with their insightful questions and boundless energy.

When they cuddle up to each other in our bed or read a book together, I realise that yes - all those strangers are right. My hands are full. But so is my heart.


*I am of course aware that being a mother to girls brings its own unique challenges. I know many amazing mums bringing up our next generation of empowered women, the women who might someday be my daughters-in-law and I thank God for them. Because He has equipped them for their role, and He has equipped me for mine. I am just where I need to be and I’m ready to go into battle every day for the sake of my two (or more!) future men.

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