Wait. I’ve been a Mom 24 years? How did that happen? One moment my boys are sipping juice boxes. The next they’re playing Beer Pong in the basement. Some things I expected like that maternal tug when I see my little boys now grown men with lots of facial hair. But here are 6 things I didn’t expect…
First, I thought I’d feel more nostalgic about my children’s younger years. Does that sound horrible? I know I’m supposed to dissolve into a puddle when I hear a school bus or come across an old report card, but elementary school feels distant and fuzzy like an old black and white movie. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll always treasure the sweet, little handmade ceramic bowls from second grade, but life goes on with new triumphs and problems and things that drive me crazy.
Second, my sons and I drink together. Recently we sat in the lounge of a Houston hotel. “I’ll have whiskey on the rocks with a splash of ginger,” my 24 year old Patrick casually said to the bartender like he’d done it 100 times (which evidently he has). My 21 year old son Paul favored the more exotic “Blue Hawaiian” (whatever that means). I watched us belly up to the bar and wondered what just happened? How did we go from diapers to Happy Hour in the blink of an eye?
Third, my sons care about my feelings. When they were young, Patrick and Paul were a blur of skateboards, electric basses and Pokeman cards. Social interaction was primal at best, mostly grunts and shrugs. But then something strange happened. My sons became perceptive, sensitive, and empathetic to others, including their mother. They can tell when I need a hug, kind words or a good talk. My God, I thought recently, I’ve raised disciples of Deepak Chopra.
Fourth, they give good advice. My sons are not only sensitive, but wise. “How do I help Grandpa?” I frequently ask my boys when discussing my Dad who has late-stage Parkinson’s. “You’re doing the best you can,” assures Paul who used to have temper tantrums that could peel paint. “You’re there for him and that’s what counts,” advises Patrick who enjoyed jumping on furniture. I walk away wondering, where did these all-knowing sages come from? And do they charge by the hour?
Fifth, their cards have become sentimental. How I longed for these when they were younger. Instead, especially in their early teen years, greeting cards included thoughts on bodily functions or a general “Hope your day is pleasant” which could’ve been given to someone’s personal assistant. Now their cards make me weep with sentimentality. “You’re the best mother ever” and “I’ll always love what you did for me.” These touch me now especially since I know they come from the heart and weren’t purchased by their father.
Sixth, they share things with me. I love hearing about my boys’ epiphanies, hurts, and joys. They still like to come and talk, to touch base. We’re not only mother and sons but good friends. Sometimes we’ll just hang-out and watch TV. True confession: I’ve even played Beer Pong with my boys although I’m a lousy shot. Still, I’m happy they like spending time with me. Some things never change and I’m grateful.
Yes, for all you beleaguered mothers of young sons, it does get easier. And although it’s wonderful to have cuddly small ones, it’s also fascinating and gratifying to watch boys grow into men you not only love… but admire.