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Life With Boys


For the last several years, I’ve lived in a house with my son, my daughter and a small French bulldog. Girls outnumbered boys 3:1. In re-partnering, I’ve added four guys and two male pets to the household. Boys outnumber girls 7:3.

I thought I’d be good with the shift to a male-oriented household. I’ve always worked in male-dominated industries and have never loved girls’ night out or head-to-toe pink. Like my son, I looked forward to the change.

As it turns out, I’m quite a girly girl, after all.

I only knew the boy world in theory. I had no brothers and my role models growing up were my formidable aunts. (Oh, does the smell of perfume, cigarette smoke, and mink ever take me back: I wish Cire Trudon would put that combination in a candle.) The only time I glimpsed boy world was with the arrival of the Brooks Brothers catalogue.

I imagined my new blended family would be a world of tennis sweaters and chinos and people dashing off to play some sort of sport.

I had no idea this meant our garage would be filled with giant hockey bags and stuff to tape back your ears.

I suspected my quasi-vegetarian diet might be tested, but nothing prepared me for the amount of meat consumed. I should have known: When we were courting, I was once served a hotdog, wrapped up in a hamburger, served in a giant bun.

And the milk! Holy mother of everything; do boys drink a lot of milk. With what I’ve saved from switching from organic to bargain brand milk, I could buy myself a Cartier bracelet. Only that money has been earmarked for buying loaves of bread. I once made the mistake of serving a chicken caesar salad for dinner: “Where’s the food?” I was asked.

And the noise! I knew my son was a human foghorn. I never knew that trait was gender-based.

I now understand why Virginia Woolf believed “a woman must have … a room of her own….” I’ve converted our formal dining room into a parlour and have made it as feminine as possible, with bold chintz upholstery and wall-to-wall ginger jars. Just for good measure, I bought an eight-foot tall solid mahogany door.

This is where I write and read and get away from the chaos. My daughter and I sometimes hide out and watch Survivor, which seems terribly appropriate some days.

After a month of blending, I’m slowly getting used to boy world. Boys are straightforward in a way girls are not, which can be refreshing. Plus, they can lift stuff: that mahogany door was not going to get into the house on its own. I am learning to appreciate their world, and they are learning to appreciate mine. I have learned the finer points of pro basketball. They’ve learned that flowers are a need, not a want. Time, patience, and continued conversation will smooth the transition.

In the meantime, there’s my parlour.

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With an MBA in Finance, JEN LAWRENCE worked in investment banking; was Executive Director of a Children’s Museum and is a pioneer mommy blogger. Jen writes and speaks about women in business, critical thinking, strategic planning and is the author of Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team. When your world’s been blown apart, Jen Lawrence can help you pull yourself together, and pinpoint those next steps that will help you find your new normal. She can also be found at

19 thoughts on “Life With Boys”

  1. I was an only child… born to only children, so it shouldn’t be surprising I never had children. My second husband had an 11-year-old son, and from day one, our household was a mandatory meat and milk feast. Neither male had even heard of zucchini, and when I fixed zucchini bread… All I can say is I’m surprised they didn’t have me committed. xoxox, Brenda

    • My son is an only child; but on weekends our house is often filled with boys. To make my life simple, Saturday is pizza, and during football season Sunday is Taco Sunday.

      • Great idea, Donna! I’ll have to get into a rhythm. So far my Thai curry is the only real favourite and that’s mainly because I prepare a tanker truck of rice. Taco and pizza night would work beautifully.

    • This bunch hates zucchini too! Perhaps it’s a boy thing as I love it. I’m an only child as well and grew up with a very serene house. My own tiny family seemed boisterous by comparison, so I thought I was prepared. Nothing could prepare me for the sound of a hockey tournament I suspect!

  2. I grew up in an all female household. I now have one daughter (my right arm) and two sons. The sons are just now hitting elementary and the tween stage and oh. my. lort. This is so different than my childhood. I do not understand them at all. And the noise!!!!!!!

  3. This is HYSTERICAL! I LOVE it! Yes, boy world is different… I was at the grocery store over the weekend, loading up for what I had been told would be 5 for dinner… I knew 3 of the 5 were male college seniors, all D1 athletes, and the meal they would consume was in preparation for an evening of drinking and well intended debauchery to celebrate the last of the pack turning 21 in time for the holiday weekend. “Why are you buying so much food?” my spouse asked me… “we’ll never eat all that…” 5 turned into 15 for dinner… due to a dearth of food, the 2 adults went out to a restaurant after I had fed the troops, having made an extra grocery run, maxed out my credit card, and scraped the cupboard for any left over dog food or canned beans from last summer that I could toss into a stew of some sort. Don’t get me started on how many eggs and pounds of bacon – not to mention BREAD – i had to cook for breakfast to nurse the hungover stragglers the next day…

    • That’s hilarious! It’s extraordinary how much they can consume, isn’t it. I think what would I eat if I had been starved for a week? Then I triple that amount for each person. It’s still never enough…

  4. oh how Ive always wondered how Id fair in a BOYWORLD. I think Id rock it. I read this. Im rethinking the rocking 🙂

  5. What a great (and fun) piece! Wishing you all the best with your new arrangement (as you eye it warily sometimes from the parlour LOL). My big observation which is aligned with yours is THE NOISE. My son can’t walk into the house without closing the door LOUDLY. He can’t take something out of the microwave without closing THAT door LOUDLY. There’s a theme here! BUT the lack of drama (I have a girl too) is a big relief many days!

    • Thank you! It is simpler in a lot of ways than with girls, but yes, the noise… Perhaps I can buy a discreet pair of earplugs. Thanks for commenting!

    • It’s pretty cool but does take some getting used to: I used to wonder why moms of boys were so tired and tended to make a big deal out of girly events. Now I know!

  6. So funny, Jen! I am an only child and never had any boys around when I was growing up. After I married, I always prayed to have girls, because I had no idea what I’d do with a boy. As soon as i found out I was pregnant the third time (an unexpected surprise), I KNEW God was up there laughing, and that He was sending me a little boy! Well, that little boy is now a 27-year-old young man, and is a huge blessing in my life! I simply don’t know what I’d do without him!

    • They are wonderful. It just takes some getting used to! It’s funny how many of us are only children around here. It must be part of what drives us to write!

  7. I grew up the eldest in a house with two brothers, but raised three girls with my husband. A totally different world!

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