Being a Mom to Boys {Lent Book Series}

Today the Lent Book Series features Marcia Mattern.

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Every year during Lent, I make sure to spend time cleaning my physical house in a deeper way. I, also, get to confession more often and grow virtue in those spiritual areas where Christ helps to remove vice. This Lent I read a book that challenged me to clean my mom-self.

Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men is Meg Meeker’s latest book. It gave me courage to keep working towards better parenting. It also calmed my fears about raising boys who are soon to be in the teenage years.

Growing up with one sister, I found the first year of marriage to be a learning curve of understanding men! Then God gifted me with three boys (and also three girls). I’ve been hurriedly reading many, many books about boys for the past ten years. This book has softened my heart to the wonder of boys in my care, yet keeping a pulse on reality.

Meg Meeker, author, doctor, and mother, doesn’t disappoint in this book. Her quote from the chapter on “letting go” hit me:

“Having children means learning that parenting is 10 percent control and 90 percent letting go.”

As a mother, I look forward and back all the time. Not because I want my child to have a parallel life to mine growing up, but that I want to make it better. I want to ponder the mistakes my parents and grandparents made and not repeat them. I want to grow a friendship with my sons (and daughters) so that when they are grown we continue to enjoy each other’s presence. But I don’t own my children. They are just this gift from God that I have for a short time.

I was pushed to consider how I multitask so often during the day after reading Meg’s book. As a homeschooling mom, I try to get dinner going during lunch and in between the math and reading. I fill the whole day with chores around the house and errands outside the home. I sandwich it all with a dose of personal and family prayer. But I want to slow down more and live each moment with these children. A Lenten goal of having less multitasking…is hard to do.

The chapter on chores and physical activity resonated with me. In the past year, we moved to acreage that required much manual labor. And my sons have joined me and my husband in doing much work.

Meg says “ Boys know exactly how they feel.  They just don’t know how to express their feelings in a productive way, but usually they need a physical release.” I have found that finding a way to join a boy in a physical chore allows them to open up and share their feelings.

Meg’s chapters on media, fathers roles, spirituality and sexuality also gave me food for thought. We, as mothers, share so much in the daily conversations we have with our sons. Many times throughout the book Meg repeated the necessity of never attacking a boys character or causing them shame. She encouraged mothers to allow the everyday experiences and conversations to impact our boys on real issues rather than having one conversation or giving one lecture.

NOTE: Meg comes from a Christian background. She does not agree with the teachings of the Catholic faith in regards to sexuality and contraceptives, but has lots of thinking/talking points for moms.

So should you read Meg’s book? If you want to be an even better mother, this book is for you. Just as I find Lent to be an annual time to make my heart more attentive to God’s mercy, I found this book helpful at making my heart attentive to boys and their needs.

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Marcia Mattern and her husband, Steve, attend St. Joseph’s church in Brimfield, IL.  She converted to Catholicism in 1997.   She worked as a Dietitian before retiring to homeschool her six children.   For the past 10 years she has been moonlighting as a Doula. You can find Marcia living outdoors with her children on their growing homestead.  She blogs at I Wonder Why.

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*coincidentally, Marcia was also featured–today of all days–as the final entry in The Practicing Catholic’s Lenten Soup & Stories Series.  She writes there about “Laboring Through Lent”-it is really worth reading and pondering. I already made a (different) black bean soup this week, otherwise I would definitely try to make it very soon.

*I had to laugh to see that Lisa & I both featured Marcia on the same day.  I was tempted (and may still) tweet at Lisa, “Hey, she was my friend first!” I’m known for doing that–several years back I told Brandon Vogt that I’ve been friends with Monsignor Soseman probably since Brandon was a pre-teen.  Like Monsignor Soseman, I’ve  been friends with Marcia since before there was an Internet.

*Lisa was also featured here, writing about The Donkey That No One Could Ride, last week. Also worth a read, and I can’t wait to read the book myself.

*I really enjoy Marcia’s blog and keeping up with her thoughts and ideas that way.  I’m even mentioned from time to time, usually not by name.  I have a lot of favorite posts, but Marcia’s concept of “Industry” (essentially, life skills she’d like her kids to have before they leave home) started us thinking at our house about what the “Life Skills/Industry” list is one that popped to mind.

Our “Industry” list is very different–for instance, no one at our house is learning how to change the oil of a vehicle (that’s why God created car dealership service departments)–but her list such a fantastic starting point.  Ideas like that from Marcia help me be more intentional as a parent and person.