Cherishing Mothers and Sons

In the past few weeks, a former colleague lost her 18-year-old son to a tragic bike accident, and a 17-year-old who plays football with my sons lost his mother to cancer.

I’ve heard of a spate of deaths recently – parents of good friends, the beloved grandmother of a student, the 2-year-old nephew of an acquaintance – but none hit me as hard as the teenage boy and the mom.

Perhaps that’s not surprising, because after all, I am a mom raising teenage boys.

Much has been written about the relationship between fathers and sons – often tormented, loaded with pressures and expectations. However, as the mom of three boys, I’m partial to the connection between mothers and sons.

Years ago, when I took walks or made grocery-store trips with my sons (often with one in a backpack and two in the stroller or cart), strangers would stop and say, “Oh, you’re so lucky; boys always love their mothers.”

I do feel that way. Sure, the “terrible two’s” were exhausting and we have battled over schoolwork, curfews and cars, but we haven’t endured long stretches of silence. For the most part, life with boys is drama-free: they say their peace and move on.

It’s different with daughters. From what I understand, I’m about two years away from a seismic shift in my pre-pubescent 12-year-old girl.

Although she still exudes sweetness, I know Pea will soon perfect the eye-roll and will rebel in her own way, to prove how different she is from me. At about 14, she will become a card-carrying member of the “I hate my mom club,” and will keep her membership active for about two years. I plan to spend some time appearing stupid and nerdy in her eyes.

Afterwards, I trust, she will come back and serve as my ally forever.

But between mothers and sons, that dynamic doesn’t exist. They know they’re different from me and have nothing to prove. We relate fairly well, and I take very seriously my role as a nurturing force, moral guide and “disaster-prevention specialist.”

And so, without apology I will continue to doze on the couch and await their arrival home every night. I will kiss them good night and say, “I love you.”  I will send texts when they’re out, and ask to be apprised of location changes. I will remind them to wear seatbelts, not to text behind the wheel and to use designated drivers. I will ask about their friends, and forge relationships with those they love.

I give myself permission to remain actively involved in my sons’ lives, because we need each other, and—as recent events have reinforced—no one knows how much time we’ll have together.

–        Linda Williams Rorem, 22 June 2012
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  1. Linda, this just about made me cry this morning!
    I never had the pleasure of sons, but can readily identify with the comments about Pea. My younger daughter is closing in on 15 and has perfected the eye roll. I am regularly stupid, slow, nerdy, etc., but also consulted on so much that I must be doing something right! Luckily, there has been no entry into the I Hate My Mother club. I think you will probably slide right through the teen years with Pea (love that nickname!) – and likely will be one of the moms that other girls will want to talk to and confide in.
    My older daughter is 22 now (how did that happen?) and has certainly come full circle to ask advice, cry on my shoulder, and express appreciation that she had a “normal, boring” childhood. We never did have the screaming teen girl vs mom fights that I hear about. We laugh about their inability to write scholarship application essays based on a traumatic event, or disfunctional family situation/relationship.
    I hope to only imagine how devastating it would be to lose either of my girls, or have them lose me. Even at 50, I dread losing my parents.
    Keep dozing on the couch, kissing them when you get a chance, and telling them that you love them!

    • Thanks for that beautiful reply, Andrea, and for the hope that my daughtrer won’t turn to the dark side. Sounds like you’ve done a fabulous job with yours (and I’m not surprised).

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