“You like me! You really like me!” A Mother’s Day recap

My gifts today: a popsicle stick picture frame, a painted pot with a pansy in it, and a card that says "From a boy who is strong in the force, and may be a jedi. Happy Moter's Day."

Once a year in our little man-cave in Madison there comes a day where manly activities take the backseat to momly activities. In place of potty talk there is conversation about why everyone likes me: I am brutiful. I read books. “I like you ’cause I like you.” There is also a lot of potty talk, but for a golden half-minute there is none. In place of action figures and blasters there is a trip to the lake where you can use “finger pistols” to kill your brother, but there are no action figures. In place of Star Wars… nothing, still Star Wars.

I get one day a year where I can say, “It’s mother’s day damn it; stop calling your brother Mr. Doodoo and they have to listen. I’m not really sure why they believe me so strongly and do listen. Maybe it’s because there was one mother’s day where they didn’t and they ended up making me cry. But we don’t talk about that. Do they understand the importance of this day? Do they sense what I want and need? Do we drill it in to them and hope for the best?

Or is it possible… that they really love us and respect us and… need us?

You’ve probably seen the emails that go around with pictures of why boys need mothers. Apparently there is photographic proof that without our guidance they would skateboard off the roof of the garage and cover themselves with panty liners.  But this is serious; I know from all my reading about raising boys that boys really need their dads. But, maybe this is obvious to you, what do they need from me, mom, that they don’t get anywhere else. So for the last hour of my Mother’s Day, as Daddy did the dishes, I researched the question:

 why do boys need moms?

I turned to Michael Gurian and his books The Wonder of Boys and A Fine Young Man and Meg Meeker and her book Boys Should be Boys. First of all I just want to say that Meeker writes the saddest and most heart-breaking theory of mothering boys I’ve ever read;

“so she will protect, adore, and nurture this tiny boy until he becomes a man and then, the ache will feel overwhelming. As a man he will leave and life as a mother will never be the same for her. She will continue to love her son, but the connection will be reworked. Not because she changed, but because one day, he will belong to another.” (p. 105-106)

So WAAAAAAA  to you Meg Meeker! After I shed a few tears and sufficiently hexed her I read more.  She did go on to make some valid points, but I’ll never quite forgive her for the above. Maybe because deep down I know it’s true. She goes on to talk about how mothers are often the fiercest protectors and strongest advocates their sons have. We teach them how to love and express love, because it is in our extra X chromosome to do so (not scientifically speaking) and this need to love and be loved and express that love is huge in boys development and how they learn to interact with women. We respond to discipline differently; our super-analytical minds need to really dissect and understand a problem our son might be having, rather than immediately trying to fix it. Mothers put a lot of thought into how to discipline their boys. Because we are so verbal about our feelings, we teach them how to name and think about their own. And I like this one: “Her words help him become a better man.” (p. 123)

Ultimately through our unending, unconditional love we build up boys’ self esteem, a crucial piece to making it on the journey to becoming a great man. We forgive and in doing so prove to a boy his self-worth; that we accept him even if he makes mistakes. When we extend our love to a boy who has just failed or effed up we teach him what love is. We teach him how to love and how to receive love at his lowest points. (Meeker, pp. 105-124)

What does Gurian say about moms? All that cuddling that we do when they’re babies, builds brain systems. Gurian says that this is even more important for boys because boys brain development in a lot of areas is slower than girls. (p. 89) Most of the other stuff that he has to say has to do with Meeker’s tear jerker above. Our job is to send them on their way to become men and then let them go on to do it. He talks about an African saying: “The mother has the boy for the first half of his childhood, the father for the second.” (Gurian, A Fine Young Man, p. 73).

As often as I find myself wishing that I was no longer dealing with poopy diapers and temper tantrums, hating bedtime and hair-washing, when I read this it reminds me that it doesn’t last forever. There will come a time when I have to put them on the Greyhound bus to manhood and I won’t go along. I will stand outside the bus depot and wave a hanky and blow kisses. I hope in my heart of hearts that I’m doing a good enough job now that they’ll want to come back to visit and not just so I’ll do their laundry.

Maybe poopy diapers and temper tantrums aren’t all that bad after all.

Happy “Moter’s” Day all.


6 Responses to ““You like me! You really like me!” A Mother’s Day recap”

  1. 1 Suzanne
    May 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I loved reading this, Rebecca. Beautiful, (and painful), insights – I’m happy to say I was there when that popsicle stick masterpiece was created with all kids of love.

  2. 2 Linda Brown
    May 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    They will come back for more than laundry. They may not say or show it, but your love is a constant in their lives that allows them to go out into the world with confidence. You are a great mom. Love, Mom

    PS. What a great photo! Can I have one?

  3. May 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I REALLY like you too!

  4. May 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I will try to keep this in mind when I’m soon changing poopy diapers. Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day.

  5. May 20, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    oh mama. You had me in tears with this one. (3 boys of my own.)

    I read your prayer for sons, which was also hilarious. Here via a link on Ann Imig’s blogroll. Love your blog.

  6. May 21, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Lovely! It breaks my heart when I think about my boys distancing themselves from me as they grow older. My 4 year old told me not long ago that when he grows up he is going to be a daddy and have 100 boys of his very own. When I asked him who their mother was going to be, he looked at me like I was a complete fool and said, “You, mom!” I remember the looks of adoration that they gave me as infants and the way that I used to think that if any guy who I’d only known for a few months looked at me that way, I would have thought he was a total nut-job. I feel a little creepy admitting how much their unabashed affection means to me, but it is a big part of what makes motherhood so fulfilling. Thanks so much for your thoughtful post! Hope your Mother’s Day was worthy of the love you clearly have for all of those boys!

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