Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Boy Mom

Listen To Your Mother Chicago was 10 days ago! I cannot believe it... Here is the written version of the piece I read on that amazing day. The video version will be on the LTYM You Tube channel sometime this summer and you can rest assured that I WILL LET YOU KNOW. Oh yes, I will.
Photo credit Sabrina Persico

"Boy Mom"

For me, the shock of giving birth for the first time involved more than just the all-encompassing pain and embarrassment of being on display for a room full of acne-ridden medical students.

Because I? 

Gave birth to a boy.

ME? A son?

Me? A mother of a…. boy?

The idea was absolutely foreign to me. Weren’t babies supposed to be…well… girls? Wasn’t I destined to bear only precious little female babies?

Wasn’t I supposed to have a houseful of pink and ruffles? Isn’t that what I’d always dreamed of? 

What I’d grown up with as the middle daughter out of 3 girls?


Not surprisingly, this was the overall response of most of my family and friends that were in the waiting room on that frigid February day.

The reactions were something along the line of “Congratulations!!! Is Tracey ok? And the baby! How big? And… wait. Did you say a… a … BOY?”

Needless to say, I fell madly in love with that little guy; Immediately and overwhelmingly in love.

It was exactly like I’d read about, and exactly as I’d dreamed. The delivery room was overflowing with tears of joy and laughter and love and… well. You’ve probably seen “A Baby Story” at least once or twice, right? You get the idea.

But while I was totally in love with my baby son, I was ABSOLUTELY, Completely thrown for a loop by all of the blue hats and blue socks and blue overalls….

And more importantly, what does it mean to BE a mother to  a boy???

Somewhere around his 3rd or 4th week of life, I broke down on a phone call to my mother. Through snot and tears and that gaspy-chokey cry, I apologized to her for all of the times I’d been aloof as a teenager; for all of the indignant sighs and eye rolling I threw at her, when all she wanted was to spend more time with her baby.

I couldn’t imagine my precious infant turning away from me. I couldn’t imagine being treated the same way I’d treated her. She cried with me, and consoled me and reassured me that she understood then and understood now that I have always loved her.

She also threatened me with bodily harm if I ever made her cry while she was at work again.

The hormones abated and crisis averted, I hung up the phone and shakily stared at Justin’s sleeping face. I tried  to picture him at 13, at 18, at 25…

I envisioned him pulling away as a teen, graduating high school, moving away, getting married and having a family of his own.

I wondered; would he ever call me to talk about parenthood and life, the way I’d just called my own mother?

Would he treasure time with me, the way I treasure time with my own mom?

Do grown men do that with their mothers?

My own father’s mother passed away when he was very young. I never grew up in the witness of an adult mother/son relationship. I realized that I had a very real, very deep fear that I would become the classic “Mother In Law” and the butt of all jokes. I feared that one day, Justin’s future spouse would resent my very existence with degrading remarks about how intrusive I was to their relationship and their family and how I just couldn’t get a life of my own…

Once I ran out of tears over THAT scenario,  my mind turned to my own mother in law. I thought of how she treated her son, my husband, with love and respect. I pictured how he continues to share his life with her.

I thought  about how the two of them have always been so open with each other.

I thought back to one time, when Patrick and I were still newly dating; I found a package of condoms lying on his bed. I snatched them up and hissed that he shouldn’t leave them out like that! His MOM might see them!!

“I didn’t buy them,” he replied. 

He said that his mother must have left them on his bed, just in case.


But for my husband? It was totally normal. That’s just the type of relationship they had.

That’s the type of relationship they continue to have.

Open. Loving. Trusting.

And able to talk to each other about anything…

Just like me and my mom…

And then I realized that she cared for me as not just a daughter-in-law, but as a daughter, and as an adult woman who is capable and intelligent. My choices aren’t always the same as hers, and our relationship didn’t have decades of history to build upon like mine with my own mom did, but my mother in law has never made me feel  anything but the same love and respect that my own mother has always showered upon me…

Looking down at my tiny son’s  face, through my tears and fears, I realized that I already HAD 2 fabulous examples of how I wanted to mother my son.

Suddenly, a life full of trucks and trains and dirt and camouflage and sticky little boy kisses was a dream come true…


canape said...

I'm a boy-mom too, and the whole MIL thing? Scares me to death. I don't want to be THAT mother-in-law. said...

Marty, I guess we just have to think about how we would want to be treated, and treat the women in our sons' lives the same. If we expect respect, and GIVE respect, no matter the issues, then it is easier to bridge any differences (or similarities!) that might make becoming friends with a daughter in law difficult.

My MIL really taught me a good lesson, to be honest. I lucked out BIG TIME.

Kamis Khlopchyk said...

That is so beautiful and so fitting for me since I only have boys. I am terrified I'll be the typical MIL. But I am going to try my damndest not to be. That's all I can do!

Michelle said...

That's so funny. I wanted boys ONLY and joked that if that second one was missing a part, she'd have to go back inside until she grew it. But yet I'd trade her for NOTHING.

But OH the MIL fears. I've got 'em, too.

Practical Mama said...

You piece is really beautiful.
I have a brother. So I saw my parents raising one daughter and a son. I, do too, have a daughter and a son. I don't really see our relationship as mom-daughter vs mom-son more than me and my particular child. Everyone has a different personality and I don't think it can be categorized by gender as you've experienced.
As for my MIL, I couldn't have asked for a better MIL. I want to be like her when I grow up :) Raise my son, like she did hers.

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