Extra Pulp: Queen of the House

This Mother's Day, Laura Anders Lee appreciates being the queen of her house.

I am outnumbered at my house three to one, and not a day goes by that I’m not reminded. Between my husband and my two sons Anders, 7, and William, 5, a lot of male testosterone stuff goes down. Wrestling matches begin before dawn, passing gas is a competition, toy cars fill the bottom of my bathtub, and the toilet seat remains up—always. (Ugh!)

In my pregnancies, there was never a doubt I was having boys. Even in utero, both Anders and William were caught on the ultrasound touching their penis. After they were born, the male pediatrician made it a point to tell my husband what size circumcision ring had been used, as if it were a vital stat to add to their baby book. I stood there rolling my eyes to myself, alone outside the circle of their boys’ club.

But as it turns out, I’m extremely content being a mother to boys—minus a few things, like their mandatory trips to Tomorrowland Speedway, the loudest, hottest, most uncomfortable ride at Disney World. But I like mud, boats, golf carts and fire stations. I’ve learned the difference between a front-end loader and an excavator. I agree that Transformers are cooler than My Little Ponies. I even found it endearing the day William brought me a worm as a present into my bedroom.

I try my best to be supportive of their interests, even if they are far from mine. When we missed the monster truck show at Camping World Stadium, I took them to ride the world’s largest monster truck at Showcase of Citrus in Clermont. I sat through the snake and spider “Close Encounters” at Gatorland, and I actually enjoyed myself. When William went through his pirate phase, we were first in line to meet Jake and Captain Jack Sparrow at the parks. When Anders became obsessed with Pokemon as a kindergartner, I took him to fan club meetings of mostly adolescent boys.

People ask me if we’ll try for a girl, but that would likely mean ending up with a third boy, and I’m not ready to handle that ratio. But I admit there have been times I’ve longed for a daughter. One afternoon at Dillard’s I was in the dressing room next to a teenage girl who was trying on prom dresses with her mom. She came out in a beautiful gown and twirled in front of the hallway mirror, her mother nodding in approval. I felt the slightest pang of sadness that I would never have this experience. I wouldn’t share special mother-daughter moments—there would never be late-night girl talks, mani pedi dates or wedding dress shopping. But then the moment passed—and years passed.

I never thought about it again until just recently. Funny enough I was back in a Dillard’s, in a different town, in a different state, and this time with William in tow. He had the day off from school, so he tagged along with me while I shopped for a gown for a Mardi Gras ball. William raced up the escalator, then performed some karate moves on a mannequin, giving it two elbow strikes and a knee strike, making him wobble but thankfully not knocking the display down entirely. But then William really got into the dress shopping. Walking through the sea of gowns, he chose the biggest, poofiest Disney-princess-iest gowns with the longest trains and the most sequins, even though my style is much simpler.

We crammed together in a dressing room, and I tried on an armful of gowns for him. “Nah, not that one,” he said, crinkling his nose, and I agreed, discarding the first. Then I put on another—an off-the-shoulder, high-waisted black gown with bronze foil flowers by Nicole Miller. I loved it. And it was 40 percent off. “What about this one?” I asked, hoping for his approval. “Do I look like a princess?”

“Mom,” he answered, “You’re a beautiful queen!”

I thought about how empty I felt years ago in the dressing room that day, and how good William made me feel right then. My heart was full.

Back at home, we put on a fashion show for my husband and Anders. William announced me formally as I sashayed into the living room and twirled around, encouraged by their “ooohs” and “wows.” I felt beautiful and special in their eyes. In that moment, I relished being the only girl in the house, high up on their pedestal.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. I hope your family makes you feel like the queen you are.

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