Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mothers And Sons

Holding Sidney for the first time at 6 days old
I'm a mother of a boy. Most days it is simultaneously exhausting yet wonderful, trying and bewildering. It is the toughest job I have ever had but one I wouldn't trade it for anything. We don't host tea parties or play with dolls in our house, rather the name of the games are soldier and rescue themed activities, watching Star Wars, and as of late, learning about bugs and snakes. And I'm learning right along with Sidney since none of these are activities or interests I had as a child. Airplanes, sirens zombies and sticks are currently what is really exciting as are books about the body functions, monster trucks and space ships. In a short time I've learned more about building with Legos, flying toy airplanes and properly racing matchboxes than I ever thought I would. I'm finally understanding how it is possible for the knees of jeans to always be worn through and as Sidney learns to differentiate between boys and girls am being told that girls are yucky. (But according to Sidney, mommy is an exception since I'm not a girl, I'm just mommy). Yes, this is apparently what life with a son is like. It is not a life I ever imagined but it is pretty darn good.

Attending his first Mount Holyoke College
reunion at six months

But what I am really learning through all of this is that boys and their mothers truly have a special bond that is like no other relationship. I see it in my own adult husband and his mother and I am increasingly seeing it between my own son and myself. Mothers are the first women in their sons lives and for many men, hold that place of honor for life. Other females may come and go but as mothers, we remain the one constant. We are the care givers; the first ones they turn to when they are hurt or sad, when they need nourishment or clean socks. I'm sure no mother thinks a woman is good enough for her son and as much as I'd like to think I'll feel differently, I'm sure I will be just as skeptical about any girl Sidney chooses to bring home. That just seems to be the way it is. And ultimately, we are also the ones who help shape their vision of what women are like. (Now tell me that isn't a big responsibility to shoulder).   

This summer has marked a turning point in my relationship with my son. For the first time I am not working and am his true primary caregiver, in many cases spending every waking moment with him each day. I know many mothers fulfill this role from day one but for me, after all this time, I am finally the person who wakes him every morning and with Glenn back in Belgium, the one who puts him to bed each evening. This means I am spending a lot of time with Sidney and I am realizing what a truly neat, if not trying at times, kid he really is. The boy has more energy than I thought was humanly possible but he also has a quick wit and a photographic memory for places he has been and things he has heard. I dare say that this summer he is teaching me just as much as I am teaching him.

As much as I hate to admit it, when the three of us are together as a family, we tend to fall into traditional male and female roles. Sidney looks to Glenn to do the rough and tumble things or when he needs broken toys to be fixed and asks me to help him when he is hurt, needs food or wants to do arts and crafts. But with Glenn not here, out of necessity he's asking me to play with him on the playground, kick around the soccer ball and fly toy airplanes with him. (Of course Glenn's absence also means I'm taking Sidney into women's rooms with me which is causing him to ask all sorts of questions about the "candy machines" on the walls). Earlier this week we were at the playground and Sidney wanted to slide down a fireman's pole but was afraid to. He said he wished that his daddy was there to show him how to do it. I told him that I could show him and after a brief (but crushing for me) look of skepticism, he allowed me to demonstrate. He looked at me in amazement that I had not only climbed to the top of the playground equipment but then proceeded to slide down the pole then copied my actions until he too was twisting and sliding down the pole with ease.  The same thing happened at the beach the next afternoon. Sidney wanted to haul a bucket of rocks out to the edge of the water and muttered something about needing daddy to help him. This time mommy came to his rescue and not only filled and carried his bucket and shared in the rock throwing but also showed him how to dig under the seaweed to find the barnacles and starfish underneath. At bedtime that night Sidney whispered a sleepy thank you to me for being so much fun. Upon hearing the words my heart melted just a little more (and made me realize that he hadn't considered me to be the fun parent). And those were just two days; each day we are discovering new things together and I think he is looking at me in a new light.

And so I'm calling this the summer of mother-son bonding. We've spent more time together than we ever have before and Sidney has seen a side of his mother that he never knew existed. He's learned that not only can mommy cook and heal his boo-boos but that I can also throw rocks, slide down playground equipment and fix a thing or two. (I'm still not proficient at flying toy airplanes but I am trying). I'm so unbelievably grateful that we have had this opportunity to spend time together in a new way. Sure I'm exhausted but Sidney and I have strengthened our bond and that is worth every energy sapping waking moment. So here's to an action packed final weeks of summer and a life time of strengthening our mother-son bond.
A recent visit to one of my favorite childhood places

1 comment:

  1. I have two girls and then Brendan came. It is so so so different and so so so special. I am so glad you have this extra time with him. It must be exhaus....errrr.....rewarding :)