The term “mama's boy” is supposed to be a bad thing. When you hear it, you often think of a 35-year-old man who still lives in his mother's house, being spoiled with meals, laundry and money. Or a man who has grown up and moved out but is still treated like a little boy and coddled emotionally.
But it doesn't have to be that way. I believe that it's entirely possible to raise a son who is independent and also maintains a healthy, loving relationship with his mother.
That's why I'm not afraid to say that I hope I raise a "mama's boy."
For as long as I can remember, my mother always told me to “marry a man without a mother.” I couldn’t understand why until I gave birth to a son. The bond between a mother and son is stronger than I could have anticipated. When my son was born, I remember thinking “No woman will love you as much as I do. Ever.”
While I will never say that to him, I'll always be thinking it.
I didn’t know it was possible to be so bonded and connected to someone but the moment I looked into his little face, I knew love on a whole new level. He is a preschooler now, but we are incredibly close. I love when our early morning cuddles, and when he throws his arms around me and says “I love you, Mommy.” I melt.
Now that he is getting older, lavishing too much affection on him gets us both admonished. We have such a close bond that he will often run to me for comfort if he’s sad or hurt. “Don’t be such a mama’s boy,” he’s told, and then I’m accused of coddling him. I hardly think that me kissing his scrape or giving him an extra long hug is going to make him never want to leave me.
Just because I love my son with every fiber of my being doesn’t mean that I don’t want him to live his own life. I’m excited for him to go to school and make new friends. I’m not going to try to integrate myself into every facet of his life. A boy/man who can’t separate from his mother isn’t a mama’s boy; that’s co-dependence. My job is to love him enough but also give him the wings he needs to fly. I don’t want to live his life for him, nor do I need it to revolve around me.
I think most mothers of sons will agree that we want to raise strong, independent men who are open to love and compassion. I don’t want to raise a whiny, spineless man who lets me make decisions for him. And if I do overstep a boundary, I sure hope I’ve raised him to feel comfortable enough to tell me to back off.
I realize that his relationship with me will impact the romantic relationships he has as he gets older. While I hope he finds a woman to treats him as well as I do, I don't want to be put on a pedestal. I don't want him using our closeness against someone else. Mothers who do everything for their son (therefore spoiling them) give those boys and men unrealistic expectations for what the next woman in their life is going to do for them. “Well, my mom would do it” then becomes a phrase that gets thrown around. It's important to remind our boys that just because we do things for them, they shouldn’t expect it of every woman who comes after us.
Do I sometimes worry that he will want to live with me forever? Of course, but I also know that his independent streak is pretty long — I have a sinking feeling that when he flies the nest he's probably never coming back. I jokingly tell him now that he better not expect to live with me when he's 25, but who am I kidding? If he asked, I'd say yes.
But if he’s a grown ass man living in my house, he better not expect me to do everything for him, because that’s not happening. I love him to death, but coddling isn’t happening on my watch.