Mothers and Sons – A Few Thoughts

Sons make a unique imprint on your heart, and maybe, mothers do that for their sons also. I threw out the subject of mothers and sons over dinner the other night.

“What do you think mothers bring to sons?”, I asked Will.

“I don’t think you can generalize,” he responded. “Each mom is a distinct personality and so is each son. The same mom might bring something different to each son, depending on his own outlook.”

As we talked, however, he conceded that mothers, in general, do bring things to their sons that are distinctly their contributions as mothers. For example, it is a fact that a good mother will care for the health and comfort of her children, whatever their age. It’s called nurturing. Adolescent boys, wanting to cut any last apron strings, sometimes airily dismiss the reminders about things like eating fruit and vegetables and getting enough sleep, but, for example, Will was happy enough to devour the giant sub sandwich I brought him at school when he forgot his lunch one day. Nurturing moms come in handy even for teen boys sometimes!

About that cutting the apron strings issue, it’s an important one. I once read an essay by Nathan Wilson entitled, “Raising Poofters.” It had a profound effect on me. The essay addressed the subject of mothers and sons in a homeschool setting in particular, and it hit me right between the eyes. I didn’t want to raise a “poofter” (wimp) and excess mothering with boys can do just that. Because Moms are hardwired to protect children from harm, they can also squash initiative and create an unhealthy fear of risk taking. Some boys have powerful enough personalities to keep overprotective moms in their place, but others do not. That’s one reason dads are so important. They balance moms out.

Will came home one year from the EAA Airventure flight show held annually in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Tom loves aviation and used to go stunt flying with his pilot friend. Will was only about 6 years old that year and came home with his gap tooth smile lit up. “I went flying all by myself!” he announced.

I looked wonderingly at the father of the household standing in the door.

“He went on the Young Eagles flight experience in a little Cessna,” Tom reported cheerfully.

“Whaaa??” My BABY up in the air with a stranger? My son, thousands of feet up in the air with a complete STRANGER?!

Will kept looking right at me, smiling his big smile, so I had to smile back.

I gave him a big hug. “Awesome!” was all I could say.

Will proudly handed over the photos of him climbing into the plane with the pilot. Overprotective mom got put in her place that day. Sons need wings, and they sometimes arrive sooner than we’d like.

What sons bring to mothers is a post in itself. I could write a book on the subject. Before I had a daughter, I didn’t even think I wanted anything but sons. I love so much about little boys. They tend not to hold grudges, they have their spats, clear the air and carry on. They are sometimes grubby, but always, always interesting.

Little boy memories fill my mind. Legos and Big Wheels, wet hair slicked over from their baths, wrestling matches in the living room, Hotwheels car shows with Tom who would spend hours with them racing their cars on the wood floor of the living room, Super Soakers, violin and piano lessons and snow forts and G.I. Joe dangling from the upstairs window and the ceiling fan in the kitchen (with the fan on), Sam’s many trips to the library and so many other things.

Each son is a precious gift no matter where he is in his life. I am thankful for all four of my sons. My oldest called me the other day with a piece of good news. He didn’t realize how flattered I was that he would call and share it with me. It told me that maybe, just maybe, I had brought something good to his life also, and that he knew he could always count on my interest and concern.

When I read of how brave soldiers who had fallen at Normandy sometimes, in their delirium, called for their mothers, it showed me the lifelong impact a mother’s love has. What I hope my sons have gotten from me, despite all of my mistakes, is the bedrock knowledge that they were and are loved for who they are. If they have that, I have done my job.