A Son’s Mother

Posted on | February 9, 2011 | 30 Comments

I am the mother of a little boy.

I’ve put a lot of thought into being the mother of a little boy, and why that differs from being the mother of a little girl.  And make no mistake, it is different. Sure, there are the obvious things like a severe lack of tea parties and an interest in playing way too rough for my liking.  But there are also so very many little things. Things that really don’t register at first.  Things that grow on you, beginning as little tickles and spreading and spreading until you are awash in the hives of being a son’s mother.

Little boys are adventurous.  They love their daddies, but nothing quite measures up to mommy.  They climb and run and tear through things at the speed of light.  They throw themselves into your arms with reckless abandon, smushing their faces into your chest and muttering a cheerful “HIIIIII” that is barely recognizable before they are off again.  They run full speed into everything: dinner, toys, playgrounds.  They are always. on. the. go.

But the biggest difference that I can see between being a daughter’s mother and the mother of a son is in this… for the most part, for most mothers, you will be the only woman your daughter ever loves.  She will grow up and change. She will go through phases where she hates your guts.  She may even tell you how much she hates you.  But at the end of the day, you will still be the only woman she has ever loved.  You will be the woman she turns to when she is scared or lonely.  You will be the woman who comforts her when she needs comforting and cheers with her when she succeeds. You will be the woman she calls when she gets engaged, or when she has questions about her wedding or marriage, and you will be the woman she calls when she finds out she will be a mother of her own child.

As the mother of a boy… I am simply the first.  I am the first woman he will love but there will (probably) be others.  When it’s all said and done, once he reaches a certain age, I will be placed in the wings. I will be who he turns to if his wife is unavailable.  I will be the voice on the phone when no other woman is part of his life.  I will be one of many, loved differently, but still just one of many.  Some day, he will hopefully marry. And whomever he marries, that person will become the primary confidante.  That woman will be who he turns to for support and who he cries with.  He will call me when she reminds him.  He will make an effort because she will ask him to.  My love, my son, my precious little one will think of me as an afterthought… his mother.  The woman who gave birth to him.  The woman who raised him.  The woman who dried every tear until… well, until someone else took over the job.

He is my life, you know.  I look down into his little eyes… eyes that light up with grins when he sees me… and I wonder when that smile will be for someone else.  I feel his little fingers wrapped around my finger and I wonder at what point in the future he will let go to hold someone else’s hand.  It’s inevitable.  I will one day have to wait (im)patiently… hoping that THAT is the day he remembers to call me.  I will wave goodbye at Christmas and not know when I will see him again.  I will lose this little boy.

We have a tough gig, don’t we?  We mothers of sons. We are the left behind. We are the other woman.  We don’t get the immediate “GUESS WHAT I’M PREGNANT” call.  We aren’t the first woman our boys will turn to for anything after they leave home. There will be someone else. There will be another woman.  And if we’re lucky, she will be wonderful.  She will remind him how much his mother loves him.  She will encourage him to be a part of his mother’s life.  But if we’re not lucky? If we’re not lucky we will just become another woman. Waiting in the wings. Hoping he’ll call.  Hoping he’ll remember.

And that, for me, is what makes being the mother of a son so very, very difficult.


30 Responses to “A Son’s Mother”

  1. Mom on a Line
    February 9th, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    What a beautiful post. You have my in tears thinking about my son. I hadn’t thought about it as you’ve laid it out, but you are very right. Thank you.

  2. Aim
    February 9th, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

    You’re telling me. I think of this too. Well put!
    I also wonder sometimes, if he ends up swinging the other way, do the same rules apply?

  3. LegallyInsaneMommy
    February 9th, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    No No No No No (with foot stomping). I had NOT thought of this. That is it. I had previously determined my little princess can not marry until she is 30. My prince is now banned until 50!

  4. Mrs. MidAtlantic
    February 9th, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

    As the mother of a daughter, I am extremely jealous of the love you get from your son. I am totally second fiddle to Daddy. Even at 3am when I’m the one up with her, and Daddy hasn’t even registered that she was crying!

  5. KLZ
    February 9th, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    I’m reading some stupid Young Adult series right now and all I can think is “kids can like each other at 13? LIKE like each other? No. too soon.”

  6. Andrea @arrrj
    February 9th, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

    So beautifully written. I refuse to think about these things right now, though. I can barely come to grips with the idea that he’ll go to school in a few years! Let alone leave me in the dust? I shudder at the thought.

  7. TheNextMartha
    February 9th, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

    I have two boys. I’m gonna go cry now.

  8. Stephanie
    February 9th, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    ok now you are making me feel guilty about not encouraging my husband to be nice to his mother … crap…and my son isn’t going to be allowed to date . . . he’s 17 months old so I can still say that . . . crappity crap crap crap!!

  9. Tweets that mention A Son’s Mother : Law-Momma.com -- Topsy.com
    February 9th, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LawMomma, LawMomma. LawMomma said: Being the mother of a little boy is a tough gig. http://fb.me/QOK8FbCY […]

  10. D
    February 9th, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

    I never really thought about it that way before. I grew up with only sisters and now have a daughter of my own. Your post *almost* makes me want to be a little kinder to my MIL… almost 🙂 Beautiful post.

  11. T
    February 9th, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

    wow. This is beautiful, and it’s totally making me cry. It is so true, though. I don’t want to lose my son to another woman! but it’s inevitable. Now I know why my MIL cries when we leave sometimes 🙂 I guess I should be more sympathetic.

  12. Jessica @ Raising an Owlet
    February 9th, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

    wonderful. wonderful tear inspiring post. As the mother of a 5 month old, I don’t even want to think about him leaving me to go to school in a few years, nevermind leaving me to get married! I shudder at this thought. Makes me want to cling even tighter to him now.

  13. JTownsend2
    February 9th, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    This was a great blog. I’m not a mother, but I’m the daughter of my mother & have been watching her go through this for some time now w/ her son. It’s gotta be painful

  14. Jennifer
    February 9th, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

    I think about this all the time. I see how my brother is with my mom, like you said, an after thought. And I pray. I pray so hard. I don’t have to be first, and I don’t really want to be first. That will be his wife’s place. But I long so much to not be last.

  15. Heather
    February 9th, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

    If it’s any consolation, my daughter will probably hate me for like 4 years straight when she’s a teenager 🙂

    Maybe sons aren’t always as outwardly affectionate as boys, but SO many of them are still momma’s boys. (My husband is a great example…)

  16. Leighann
    February 9th, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

    I’m bawling!! I don’t even have a son (yet). You wrote beautifully.

  17. Crystal
    February 9th, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

    Are you trying to make me cry??Do you really want me to crumple in a pile of tears?? I have 4 princes…no girls. And I’m totally fine with that…but now I’m feeling a little depressed. Because….it’s true. Right now I am their everything…but someday…I won’t be….

  18. Clare
    February 10th, 2011 @ 2:17 am

    Wow, that was really beautifully written! And something I had never thought about before!

  19. Lisa
    February 10th, 2011 @ 2:35 am

    I don’t think there is a deeper ache in my heart than the one you’ve described here. In this first year of my son’s life, I’ve felt a deeper kinship with my mother-in-law than ever. I pray for a special girl for my little man, but I can hardly imagine one special enough 🙂

  20. Alex's Mommy
    February 10th, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

    I never thought of it that way, I got teary while I read your post 🙁 our job is going to be to make sure that we aren’t just forgotten, but sought after.

  21. Delia
    February 10th, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

    As a mom to a little boy who thinks I rule, this has me crying at my desk. You put it perfectly. I have told my husband time and time again that I want a little girl…because I know one day I won’t be on the top of my list for my son.

  22. Natalie
    February 11th, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    I wrote about being a mom to boys before. I stumbled across this quote years ago & it stuck with me. It’s one of my favorites.
    “There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart.”
    – Washington Irving , writer

    I dread the day one of my boys brings home a girl. I hate the thought that I will be replaced.

  23. Andy
    February 11th, 2011 @ 3:42 am

    Well, I’m sorry but I don’t agree with you at all.
    I’m the happy father of a boy and a man who still respects his mother enough to keep her involved and informed and a major part of my life.
    I’m very close to my mother, as is my brother. Being the first and “replaced” as you put it does not equate to being forgotten. I hardly think it appropriate to think of it that way. Quite the contrary, mother’s are first and ultimately will always be number one. Just as grown women will always be daddy’s litle girl and he the role model she looks for in a future mate, so is a mother to a son. A mother teaches a son how to respect women, how to interact with them and on some level, she is the model he searches for. A boy’s relationship with his mother can often tell a lot about how he will treat women and greatly affects their adult relationships with the opposite sex.
    Sure it is sad to think of our kids growing up and wondering if they will forget us, but I don’t think having a son is better or worse than a daughter, just different. However they are BOTH joys, miracles and blessings we all should be thankful to have in our lives.
    We hope to have more kids and honestly don’t care what they come out as, as long as they are happy and health and lead full long lives. gender doesn’t define relationships, we do with each other with every interaction…

  24. Carolyn Hurley
    February 12th, 2011 @ 3:20 am

    As a divorced mother of a two year old son and only child. I knowingly new that someday he would be living his dreams with his bride. And now he is a father of a daughter and 2 sons. Today I’m a proud mother of a loving son and daughter-in-law, who keep me filled with photos on face-book or pictures text-ed to my cell phone. I’m so excited and I really appreciate those little things because there is true love there… 😀

  25. Response to Andy
    February 12th, 2011 @ 5:52 am

    Andy, I understand your point of view to a point…yes, parents can still play very strong an important roles in our lives after marriage, naturally. And yes, they can be included in our lives of course…
    But if mother is number one to a man after he is married then I feel very sorry for that man’s wife. Not appropriate and not healthy for the marriage!

  26. D
    February 18th, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

    I love this post. So true and beautifully written. And so true. I have a 5 year old and the thought of him leaving one day for marriage makes me so sad.

  27. Shanon
    February 19th, 2011 @ 2:35 am

    I have been away from home, so I am late reading and responding to this post. So beautifully written. You have captured the ‘tough gig’ so well. Sad but true. I know. Because I am the mom of two married sons. I am that other women “waiting in the wings”.

  28. Alison
    May 5th, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

    At this very moment, I’m lying on my bed, pinned under my very asleep 5 month old son, crying as I think about this post. The thought of my son’s live changing somday in the future just tugs at my heart. And It certainly makes me appreciate my MIL more.

  29. Itskristen
    May 9th, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    As the mother of a little son, my greatest wish is that he does find a woman who loves him more than anything in the world, someone to help him start a family as wonderful as the one he is a part of now. The thought of that not happening…the thought that as an adult, I would still be the most important woman in his life..that is heartbreaking to me. Letting go is ridiculously hard, but if your kid doesn’t let go? That’s got to be the saddest thing of all. Being the one waiting in the wings is a bittersweet victory I hope to experience one day.

  30. lawmomma
    May 9th, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

    Amen to that.

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