My Mother has a son, my brother, Stephen. I always kind of thought he was her favorite because she was always very accommodating to him. Mommy would say, “Stephen simply requires more than you do.”
I accepted that. But with me, my Mother was tough, and I mean tough. I appreciated the fact that she was so hard on me because it made me into the fiercely independent woman that I am today. Therefore, I am forever grateful for her stern yet vulnerable way of raising me.
Yet, I noticed with my Mother and my friend’s Mom that when they had sons, it seemed that the common denominator is that they were more attentive to the boys. So much more accommodating to the point that as they grew older, they were still pretty dependent on their Moms. Furthermore, have you ever dated someone who not only loves his Mother, but was still pretty dependent on her? I did, and I shied way from that guy because we didn’t want to date a so called “Mama’s Boy.” Yet, once I had my son, I had to question….am I about to raise a Mamma’s boy?
Before I had Trey, everyone would tell me the relationship between a Mother and son is just different. I always figured I would love my son and probably do extra things for him, but I had no clue why, and I didn’t understand just how different the relationship would be. I felt the immediate need to protect my boy from any and everything. With Trey, I was in full nesting mode. I held him all day, and slept with him on my chest and when he woke up (and still does) he greets me with a smile. Don’t get me wrong, I was just as affectionate toward Weslie, loved her just as much and held her just as tightly, but at some point between when she began crawling and walking, my expectation was that she was going to become some fiercely independent warrior princess (judge away). So when she fell, I checked to see if she was okay, but let her dust it off and get up. When she cried, if nothing was imminently wrong, I would give her a look that said “Okay girl, we’re moving on.” To say the least there have been differences, and truthfully, I treat Trey more delicately. I have to question, am I babying my boy and raising my girl?
My children are only 2 years old and 8 months respectively. However, I am working my hardest not to be “That Mom.” You know the one when your son goes on a date, the other person is like “who raised you?”
Without oversimplifying the issues, I think the urge to baby my boy comes from a lot of subconscious scripts about who and what men are supposed to be…and my maternal urge to protect and prepare him for that. But what’s really dangerous about this is that I’m subscribing and perpetuating these kind of gender norms that probably lend themselves to the mental load we know women absorb, largely from the men in their lives. It’s not just about what I’m doing with my son, it’s the contrast with what I’m doing with my daughter.
It’s hard to fight against this- it’s hard to acknowledge, internalize, and then disrupt the ways we consider gender norms. So my intention is to have equal time with both of my children. Neither will feel less important than the other, and both will be responsible and resilient. I want my children to be the right amount of charm, wit and charisma, and ultimately I want them to fly. I don’t want to clip their wings by hovering over either of them all of the time, but also want them to know I will always be their compassionate, understanding, soft place to land.
Look, everyone was correct when they said the relationship between a Mother and son is different, and I’m navigating what that really means as a Mom. What I’m learning is that it’s different, but not in the ways I expected.
Ultimately, just want to raise amazing humans, who have their own amazing families (but still come home to have lunch with their Mother).