almost eight {again}

This weekend marks another birthday in our family. My youngest son will turn 8. I keep thinking about how different it is compared to when Corbett turned the same age. 8 year old boys were a bit terrifying back then. I had no idea how incredibly awesome 8 year olds are – not a clue.

I started reading a couple posts from around the time Corbett turned 8. I really need to go back and read old posts again. It was fun to see my deep voiced 12 year old as a little guy again.

The post below was originally posted on January 9, 2012…


My first born.

My first son.

My introduction to the wonderful world of boys.

He doesn’t make a lot of blog appearances because he’s older and I want to be sensitive to that. His stories are becoming his to share. I asked him if I could talk about him today, he said, “sure”.


I grew up with a sister. This little bundle of boy was new and strange for me. I remember holding him and thinking, “he’s a baby..I can do baby boy. At least he is not eight.” I don’t know why I landed on “8”, but I did. Baby boys, toddler boys, little boys and even teenage boys did not scare me. Eight year old boys, however, were a different world. I couldn’t think of a single eight year old boy I had ever known. That was the age I stopped being friends with boys when I was younger. That was the age boys got ‘yucky’ and I had no interest in them for several more years.

So every birthday, I keep thinking “at least he’s not eight”.
His toddler years were rough. I am sure part had to do with my lack of experience as a mom, but a lot had to do with his personality. Strong willed. Independent. Confident. Determined. I would cry often wondering if I was a terrible mom. I felt like all I did was correct him and discipline. I remember emailing a close friend telling her I was struggling with knowing what to do with him. I needed to break his will, but feared breaking his spirit. I wondered if he’d ever like me and if I’d ever get to do anything with him that didn’t involve a battle of the wills. It felt like those days would never end.

And yet, those days did end. I am not even sure when it happened, but it was many years ago. He’s still so young…I know. But he is so old too.

He is a thinker. He doesn’t make rash decisions. He’s methodical and confident.
He’s been saving his money nearly all his life. Every now and then he’ll spend just a bit, but he usually just saves it. Not for any one thing, just to save it. Usually once a week I’ll find him counting it and reorganizing it. It is just something he does. He has had to upgrade to bigger money jars numerous times.

About a week ago, I found him dividing his money into 2 piles. He had emptied his jar completely and was slowly and precisely creating two large piles. I didn’t ask questions, just went on doing my thing. A while later he came to me with two bags full of coins and bills. He labeled the bags “Africa” and “China”. He told me he wanted to send all his money to those countries, but wasn’t sure exactly how he wanted those countries to spend it. His best friend is from Africa. His youngest sibling is in China.

I smiled. We talked about all the options I knew existed.

The next day we drove to school and I began talking about how I was proud of him, but wanted him to understand that it is okay to have money. He could give some and keep some…he didn’t have to give it ALL away. He had been saving for so long. Working so hard. I wanted him to know he could do whatever he wanted. From the backseat he said, “Mommy, I don’t NEED anything. There are lots of kids that DON’T HAVE anything.”

I focused on driving. Speechless. How do I respond to that? How do I argue with that?

I told him he was right and I would support him in whatever he wanted to do with his money.

When I picked him up from school he had a smile as big as Texas. “I know what I want to do with the Africa money!” he said. He told me about his good friend K and how her mom was getting ready to go back to Africa to bring home K’s big brothers (they are adopting). He said K’s mom had met some boys that lived on the streets and had no families or possessions. She was going to go back and give them a place to take a clean bath, eat a fresh meal and provide them each with a new outfit and shoes. His sentences were fast and excited. He asked how many outfits I thought he could buy with his Africa money. His joy could not be contained.
In a few short weeks, he will turn the dreaded age of “8”. Only, it isn’t so bad now that I am close to it. Sure it is still an awkward age in many ways. He still pushes the limits with me and our similar personalities often leave us at odds with each other. Sometimes he hits with a light saber too hard and doesn’t share the Legos. He’s not always quick to obey and he is still learning what it means to respect authority. He’s just a typical kid. But, he is a typical kid with an empty money jar and a full heart…who teaches me often more than I teach him.

Being a parent is exhausting. It is hard. I question every day if I am messing my kids up. But every now and then I get a glimpse into the people they are becoming. He’ll be 8 soon. He still has that strong will and strong spirit. And I get to have a front row seat to watch him grow into a man….my heart is full.

And it is looking like I’m not the only girl in this house that thinks he is pretty great…

1.12eight-08flourish2.2.16day3-23Reading that it was incredible to see how much he has not changed, but also how much he has grown in 4 short years. Wow…it happens fast! I’ve been thinking about re-posting some of my favorite posts on Fridays. 8 years of blogging….that is a lot of favorites lost in the archives of this random blog!

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  • erin - As the mom of an almost 7 yrs old boy this post hits home. I get it, so much of it. I had so many of the same thoughts and feeling when I was first told my firstborn was a boy, but oh how I have loved being a boy mom and watching him grow.

  • Ashley Harmon - Ashley, Thank you for this! I have two daughters (6 and 3) and I feel almost everyday like I may not make it through these preschool years with my youngest. It sounds like she is much like your oldest was. Thank you reminding me there is light at the end of the tunnel or tantrums and battles and discipline. THANK YOU!

  • Tara Davis - I remember this sweet post from a few years ago! Your big guy has such a kind heart!! He reminds me of my oldest son too, who is also about to turn right on a few weeks. You are a wonderful mama! It will be awesome to see what amazing plans God has for your son!!

  • Tiffany Nelson - Who teaches me often more than I teach him… that is a statement I find to be so so true as a parent. Very sweet story and the picture of his sister looking at him in complete adoration is priceless.

  • Brandi - I remember reading that post! I really connected with the idea that it was harder to talk about my older kids on a blog or social media (‘his stories are becoming his to share’–love that)…but as a mom it is really nice to connect to parents navigating tweens and teens.

    I had brothers, so it is more my daughters that I find intimidating…especially as my oldest girl hits 12/13…probably because that is when it became most difficult for me to relate to other girls. But hopefully, in the future I will look back at the age like you do. Amazing how so much can change (but stay the same) in a few years.

  • ranee - I love this post…mostly because I have a very similar (turning eight years old in a month!) firstborn son and it so encouraging to read your words and to see the way your son has grown into such a great young man. Crazy good.

  • Lindsey Claire - Love this, and love the idea of reposting some of your old favorites on Fridays! πŸ™‚

  • Debbie C - I too remember this sweet post! I am currently in those years of constant discipline and frustration with my active, strong toddler boy. This was so encouraging, that one day it won’t be such a daily battle and we can move on to bigger things! You have raised a truly fine young man, I hope I can do the same.

  • Noelle - I remember reading this a few years ago, but I’m so glad you reposted it. The part where you talked about Corbett as a toddler was salve to my heart, because I am in the midst of toddler/preschoolhood with a daughter who is defiant, strong willed, and sensitive. I have the same questions you related, wondering whether I’m a good mom and if I should just stop with one and not have any more kids because I can’t handle the one I’ve got. I question my decision to quit my job to be home with her because I feel like I’m so deficient in this realm. So it was very comforting to hear from someone who has walked that road and come out the other side. πŸ™‚

  • Sharla - “I needed to break his will, but feared breaking his spirit. I wondered if he’d ever like me and if I’d ever get to do anything with him that didn’t involve a battle of the wills. It felt like those days would never end.”

    Thank you for sharing – the quote above fits perfectly with how I’ve felt about my oldest (now 12 and unfortunately still a battle) – I hope we grow out of this time and learn to appreciate each other soon so we can truly love and enjoy our time together!! Lots of tears, but lots of love in this relationship . . . . πŸ™‚

  • Elise - I am a long time follower and absolutely adore your blog. I have found such inspiration from you and your world view as well as your voice for the marginalized. You and your family’s story is a blessing to so many!

  • Joy - I read this post the first time around & have thought about it several times recently since my oldest boy turned 8 in the fall. So nice to read it again!

  • Carla - I would LOVE to see more posts pulled from your archives. Yes please!! I started reading in 2012, the day I birthed my son and you guys held your daughter for the first time. I would love to see more of what happened before then πŸ™‚

  • Shauna Ellis - I remember this post.
    At first I didn’t remember, but it all came flooding back.
    Also I love hearing that strong willed toddlers will one day calm and that strong will decision making will become thought provoking conversations.
    Which my 2.8 year old currently has. I can not wait until she can get all her ideas out of her head.

  • Betsy - Thanks for posting this! You have been like a long-distance mentor to me through your blog in regards to mothering boys. I have three little guys (the oldest is almost 7), and I also only grew up with a sister. Thanks for being authentic and sharing your experiences and wisdom! You are blessing my family here in North Carolina!

  • Peigi MacLean - Well thank you for sharing this older post. I think Hod may have shared it just for me right now! You seen I have a firstborn son, aged 2 nearly 3, and he is so determined & independent & strong willed & slow to listen & learn, (like myself I guess!!!) But a deep thinker. And I feel a failure every day, and fear I’ll never help raise a ‘good’ boy. It is so hard. You give me hope.

  • cailan matthews - I remember this post too…now I have a newly nine, two sevens and a two year old. Your wonderful testimony makes me feel like I could use some parenting help. Obviously you and your husband’s own lives have been a great example for your kids but would you be willing to share what have been your favorite parenting books/guides?