Mothers are our first relationship, good or bad. With almost 4 million births in the U.S. each year, that’s a lot of new relationships. And 51% of those births are sons according to this report by NPR. How do mothers feel about this? What do moms think about their sons and want them to know?
Mothers think about their sons relentlessly. Mothers think sons are messy, often clueless about everything, and their fathers’ mini-me. Mothers want their sons to become independent and able to take care of their own families. Mostly, mothers are proud of their sons and want them to know it.
I’m a mother of three sons and as such, I know just how often they occupy my thoughts. There’s a real conflict for mothers about their sons- how to raise them properly and teach them to become good men in our everchanging society. And everyone’s an expert at what mothers should do except mothers!
Mothers Think About Their Sons
Mothers have a special place in their heart for their sons, but that doesn’t mean they don’t recognize that sons have things to work on…plenty of them to be sure. And most moms, just like me, aren’t shy about letting sons know it!
Sons Are Messy
Most moms agree that sons are messy. Besides three sons, I also have a daughter, and though she’s not as neat as I’d like her to be, she’s much neater than her older brother.
My oldest son, Brandon, was known for tower building with dirty glasses and soda cans. Any time I noticed a decrease in our plateware, all I needed to do was go look under Brandon’s bed to find 3-4-5 dishes awaiting to be washed!
Sons are rarely known for clean socks and underwear, either. I taught my three sons to use the washing machine and dryer when they each turned 10 or 11. But just knowing how to use the machines doesn’t mean they actually use the machines without reminders and directives, and a written schedule!
Sons Are Clueless
Mothers also think their sons are clueless about, well mostly about everything. Whether it comes to finding things, doing homework, the opposite sex, shopping, or even getting themselves up in the morning, mothers think sons need help.
Even though my sons have gone with me grocery shopping for years, it’s apparent they were thinking (I suppose) about anything other than shopping each and every time because when they were old enough for me to send on their own, it’s like they had no idea what to do. I might as well had been sending them to China for bread and milk, rather than the Safeway Grocery Store down the street!
I’d have to write down (or text) instructions about which aisle to go down, whether the item would be on the top, middle or bottom of the shelf, and even what color to expect the box to be. Then, I’d have to explain how to use a coupon, the store discount card, and pay the cashier.
Mothers Think Sons Are Fathers-In-Training
But really what mothers think about their sons is that one day they are going to be fathers, too. Mothers hope to shape their sons to be the very best fathers possible, presumably just like the one they have. After all, they will be fathers to the most important people in the world, the mother’s grandchildren.
Mothers keep this in mind as they raise their sons. They want their sons to have empathy for others; to work hard at whatever they do; to use manners and show respect to their elders; to not be scared to venture new things; and to be well-rounded citizens. This is what mothers think about as they think about their sons becoming fathers.
What Mothers Want Sons to Know
Because we recognize our sons aren’t perfect and have things to work on, doesn’t mean our sons don’t have our hearts wrapped around their sticky little fingers ten times and back again! We moms want the world for our sons and there are a few, but crucial, lessons we hope to impart to them before adulthood.
That It’s Okay to Fail
As Dr. Jamie Howard explains here, it’s okay for children to fail, and failing provides opportunity for reframing failure as “trying, practicing, and putting in effort”, none of which is detrimental or ‘failures.’
“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” -Chinese proverb
As mothers of sons, we know this all too well. From the moment our children were born, we’re racked with the idea of failing to be a good mother and raising our children wrong. And it certainly feels like we’re the number one target to blame whenever anything goes wrong.
But despite it all, we don’t want our children to be so afraid of failing, and disappointing us, that they never try.
We want our sons to know that to be successful, they will need to have many failures. Without failures, it means we haven’t pushed ourselves or strove above mediocrity in life. In this day and age of everyone wins a trophy, not winning is sometimes a hard pill to swallow.
From falling off a bike, to striking out at bat, or not placing 1st (or 2nd, 3rd,… in the top 10 even) in the science fair, our sons need to experience these small failures in order to learn how to handle the bigger ones, like not getting, or losing, a job or worse.
When our sons learn that the world doesn’t end just because it feels like the worst day of their life, then they learn resiliency and grit. These skills will help them become stronger and better not only in spite of, but also because of, their failures.
“Don’t fear failure—not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.” -Bruce Lee
Sons Are Capable
Mothers are their sons first cheerleaders. Mothers think their sons are brilliant, even if their brilliant moments are fleeting! Above all, mothers see in their sons potential for greatness. They see that their sons can be more than they are, and we moms work everyday to help our sons achieve it. And when our sons fly the nest, we smile knowing our sons are ready (or let’s face it, they’d still be at home!).
When our sons need help in reading or math, we’re their advocates, either scheduling teacher conferences, or if we are the teacher, looking for outside intervention like tutors or extra material to help.
We’re the ones driving them to and from clubs, sports, part-time jobs, friends’ house, and so on. When our son wants something, mothers are the first ones they ask-whether it’s a snack, new headphones, or a video game. And when problems arise, often mothers are the first ones to take notice.
Even though we’ve seen them at their smallest and know most all of their faults and failures, mothers see in their sons the ability to rise above it and become…like their father.
Mothers Are Proud of Their Sons
We moms are proud of our sons, no matter how young or old they are. When our sons take their first steps, we clap and congratulate them like they climbed Mt. Everest.
When our son gets a medal in a race, we treat it like an Olympic Gold. And when our son does the dishes or takes out the trash before we asked, we react like they gave us a million dollars.
We’re proud of all the little moments because we know they add up and that one day, our sons will do something that not only a mother appreciates!
As a mom of three sons, I get lots of opportunity to be proud.
I’m so proud of our son, Ethan, who has special needs. When he thought I was being disrespected and his father wasn’t there, he readily stepped up to defend my honor. And his twin brother Ronin makes me proud everyday as he truly is ‘his brother’s keeper’, always looking out for Ethan, helping him whenever he needs it without being asked to do so.
The first big moment of pride I had for my oldest was the day we dropped him off at college. He’d received an academic scholarship to a school about three hours away. We drove him there, helped unpack the car with his stuff (well, in full disclosure, mostly I pointed while he and his dad carried all the boxes), and then said our goodbyes. It was a big moment for all of us!
Then recently he made me super-proud when he graduated basic training from the US Air Force. After 2.5 years of college, he decided college wasn’t his preferred plan at the moment and instead enlisted in the military.
Although this wasn’t the hopes and dreams my husband and I had had for him, we supported his decision and when he met this first military milestone, it warmed our heart and brought tears to my eyes.
Today, I’m proud of him every time we talk (via Skype nowadays), which is usually once a week. I’m so proud of how he’s managing his life and taking care of his own little family; and I’m so proud that when he calls us, it’s just to chat…not to ask for anything other than how we are doing. Now that’s something all parents aim to achieve!
What Mothers Think About Sons Wrap Up
Mothers think about their sons all-the-time. When they are little, we worry if they’re growing properly, if they have a fever, if they have nice friends at school, and on and on.
After they leave us, we worry if they’re eating well, if they’re taking care of themselves, if they have nice friends at work…and on and on.
Mothers think about their sons…
- that they’re messy
- that they’re clueless
- that one day, they’ll be fathers, too.
Mothers want their sons to know…
- that it’s okay to fail.
- that they are capable.
- that their mothers are proud of them.
I have sons, and I feel all these things for my sons, and more!