I think, after 12 years of being one, there is something unique and very special about being the mother of boys. I remember being scared to death of having a boy. I only had a sister, didn’t have a lot of experience with boys and just felt so out of my element. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed having a boy and, without sounding conceited, how good I was at mothering a boy.
When you’re a mother of a baby boy, it’s so easy to love them, obviously. They’re chunky and cuddly and cooing and wonderful. It’s easy to just sit and snuggle and munch on toes and give kisses and imagine the boy they will be. You can’t quite imagine the man they will be yet but you have so many hopes for them. I hope they’ll be smart but not too smart. I hope they’ll have friends. I hope they’ll be happy. I hope they’ll be kind. Even if they keep you up all night and fuss a bit, you just want to take a bite out of them they’re so lovable.
When you’re a mother of a toddler, you get a glimpse of what it might be like when they’re teenagers. They’re moody. They throw tantrums. They have language, but not quite as much as they need. They get mad at you. Really mad at you. They want to do their own thing instead of snuggle all day. They don’t need you as much. And suddenly you’re desperate to have that baby boy back. The one you could make smile with just a sound. The one who looked at you like you hung the moon. There are still plenty of those moments though. When you get down on the floor and play Thomas the Train with him, he beams. When you run alongside him while he rides his tricycle, he sneaks a look up at you and grins. At night, when you read bedtime stories, he laughs at your funny voices and cuddles right up to you under the blanket. He still gives you a big kiss goodnight, a really tight hug and says “I wuv you Mama!”
When you’re mother of a pre-schooler, you have it easier again. They have more language and can express themselves and they get less frustrated. They’re more independent, which is nice, but they’ve come back to you a little bit. They seem to want to cuddle a little bit more, hang out a little bit more and talk your ear off. Maybe they’re a little more enjoyable too because they go to pre-school for a few hours a week. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, right? You have glimpses of the man they’ll be, believe it or not. When they open the door for their sister or the girl at school, you see it. When they thank you for making dinner, you see it. When they sit down and draw you a picture just because they want to, you see it. You still get to read stories and snuggle and there are still lots and lots of kisses and “I love you”s.
When they go to school, you’re so unsure of what will happen. How much influence will the other kids have on him? How do you feel about him spending 7-8 hours a day with a grown-up that’s not you? How are you going to survive not being with him all day? You miss him like crazy. When he gets home from school, he wants to play with his new friends, not you. He’s so busy. In the beginning, there are still hugs and kisses and cuddles at night. But then something happens. They grow up. They need you less. And for some reason, their affection wanes. At first, it’s not cool to give you a kiss in front of their friends but as soon as they walk in the door, you get a kiss and a hug. They still want to hold your hand when crossing the street, they still want you to read them books and cuddle before bed, they still sit on your lap while watching a movie.
Then it all changes. In a blink, they don’t want to kiss you anymore, even if their friends are nowhere in sight. They will absolutely not hold your hand in public. They want to read on their own before bed. They don’t want to talk about their day. They can be surly. They want to play with their friends or play video games and they really don’t want to play with you. It’s a hard pill to swallow. You ache for him. But you can’t let on too much because that will just push them away farther away. So you hang in there, you might even cry a little at night when you think about it, but then you start to notice things.
You notice that you’re the first person he wants to show his cool, new Lego creation. “Mom! Look at this cool ship I made!”. You notice that you’re the one he wants to tuck him in at night. Just a kiss on the forehead, maybe a hug if it’s your birthday, but he still wants you to be the last one to see him before he goes to sleep. You notice that he wants to read the same books as you. “Mom! Can you believe what’s happening once they got to the Capitol?” You notice that he asks to watch The Middle with you on Wednesday nights. You notice how he catches your eye and gives you just a hint of a smile after he scores a goal in the soccer game. You notice you’re the one he wants to talk to about his bad day. You’re the only one who knows who he has a crush on. It’s these little things that show you that your baby boy is still there.
It’s hard to watch them grow up and move away from you emotionally and physically. Everyone assumes that if they have a daughter, they’ll be close and maybe even best friends some day. At least that’s what you hope for. But with boys we assume we won’t. I think that when you are a mother of boys, you just have to look harder. You’re still their Mama, they just show you in different ways. You hang on to these things with all your might. And when you can actually see the type of man they’re going to be, you know they’ll want you right there beside them.
That was really lovely. I don’t have kids yet but I have two younger brothers, one who’s 8 years younger than me. Even though we have a wonderful mom, I couldn’t help becoming his second mommy and I recall going through a lot of these same things with him. But you are right, he showed us in so many different ways that he was still our “boy”. And I just can’t help getting a little misty-eyed when I think about the wonderful young man he’s turned into 🙂
OOH Boys…… Boys boys boys. They certainly are gross and beautiful all at the same time.
This is beautiful. Even though I only have girls, I can appreciate the love that flow between a mother and her son. You have amazing sons. They’re a tribute to the amazing mother you are.
So sweet. I have to share this will all my girlfriends who have boys!
i love this! especially since i’ve been wanting to pack my son up and ship him off to a remote location lately 😉 this post makes me want to just pick him up and squeeze him and love on him while he’ll still let me! also…happy belated birthday! i’ve been a bad blog commenter lately, but i’ve still been keeping up….just been too lazy to actually type. you know how it goes…lol. p.s….love the picture of you with your boys 🙂
Beautiful post, thank-you.
My experience with my son is achingly similar (Although I also wanted to ship my son off this morning to somewhere where I didn’t have to tell him to brush his teeth for the 80th time).
Tiffany, I seriously cried as I read this…we are just early days of this, just off to preschool, but I see the changes you write about and my heart aches for the missing of him that I will have. I was so so so terrified to have a boy but as it turns out, like you, it’s truly amazing. My little Q brings me so much love and light and has brightened my world. Thank you for writing this…for sharing your wisdom so that as we grow and evolve I can reflect back and remember to look for the other things, the stolen glances, the slight nod, the different way to be his mama.
I just love this. It parallels what I have been feeling so well. And since I have girls, it is fascinating to see your take on how it is different with boys. I’ve heard that teenaged boys are easier than girls…that moms of boys pay the piper early with boys, but I have no idea if that is true. For your sake, I hope so! 🙂
As another mommy of boys I love you for this post! I feel your pain. What a lovely reminder to see the subtle hints they give us.
I’m late reading this (I have been catching up!) but I wanted to tell you how much I loved it. I have 5 sisters (no brothers!) and am super close with my mom, so when I found out I was having a boy, I was a wee bit sad to think that I would be missing out on that closeness. I know that doesn’t have to be the case, but like you said, that is sort of the assumption we tend to have. I will work hard like you have to make sure my little guy grows up wanting to be my pal… in his own way 🙂
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It reminds me of the book “I love you forever(?)” I cried every time I read it. Just wait till the boys are older yet. Mine is in high school and is still a mama’s boy. However, he is not nearly as huggy and snuggly at 6’5″ as he was as a toddler.
Thanks for sharing such a lovely story.
Aw, so wonderful. As a boy mom myself I can completely relate with the early parts (mine are still young) and I can only hope that my relationship with my boys progresses much as yours has done.
What a beautiful post! Thank you SOOO much for sharing it!!