Friday, March 9, 2012

Letting Go

When he was little, my older son adored me and wanted to spend all of his time with me. I remember him hiding my evening shoes when the babysitter arrived, apparently thinking that if I didn't have them, I couldn't go out. When DH and I went away for a weekend, my parents reported that he cried for hours, not only when I left, but every time I called to check in. When I was in the hospital giving birth to my second child, he got up, got dressed, and just sat quietly on the couch waiting for the time when he could come to the hospital to see me.

I had a similar connection with my younger son. As a baby and toddler, he couldn't fall asleep at night without me in the room with him. When he was about 4 years old, I went away to lobby in Albany for better public schools, leaving before the kids were up and not returning until after dinner, he literally ran down the street and jumped into my arms with delight upon my return. We were so happy being together that my husband joked that he was my favorite (but both my sons are so totally wonderful how could I possibly choose one over the other?).

As they've grown older, of course, they've pulled away from me. I think that sometimes my very existence is an annoyance to my older son. I embarrass him to the point that he doesn't like having friends over, doesn't want me to go to his school (ever), and heaven forbid that I might talk to other parents or to kids! My younger son still allows me to walk him to the bus stop, but only, I think, so that I'll schlep his musical instrument for him twice a week. He's often angry with me -- and over the seemingly most insignificant things.

I know it is right and appropriate for them to act this way -- they are asserting their independence -- but I sometimes miss my friendly little guys!  That being said, I don't understand the angry response to the recent WSJ article "Who Are You Calling a Mama's Boy?"  I don't agree with comments that a close mother-son relationship is unhealthy -- indeed I hope that once my boys get over their sullen pre-teen and teenage sulking, we'll be closer again.

Update: There is more on this debate in a Ladies Home Journal article called The Mama's Boy Myth.

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