I have often wondered what being a mama’s boy really meant. Growing up in New York, getting called a mama’s boy wasn’t exactly what you considered to be a compliment. It usually meant that you were weak, cowardly, and reliant on your mother to take care of you and although I was called a mama’s boy far too often, I am also personally guilty of using this expression against others in a negative way.
When I was younger, I remember being called a mama’s boy by my friends and teammates when I would rush home to be on time for dinner, or when I would meet my mom on time for a pick up from hockey practice, or even when I would reject drugs or alcohol at parties. I hated this expression for it made me feel weak, less of a man somehow.
There’s one occasion I remember specifically- my junior year of high school when my mom brought me a jacket to school because the weather was getting colder and she didn’t want me to get sick again. As I reflect on that day 40 some years ago, I still wish that they didn’t announce the jacket delivery on the school loud speaker during homeroom.
During my college years away in San Diego, I would talk at length on the phone with my mom and have detailed conversations about school, friends, and my general well-being. Somehow, these “normal” mother and son conversations always seemed to generate some poke or jab from at least one of my roommates that often led to yet another mama’s boy joke.
Now that I was older, the mama’s boy jokes didn’t taunt me nearly as much as they did when I was younger. Instead the continuous jokes made me curious if my relationship with my mom was different than those around me and made me really question what being a mama’s boy truly meant. Maybe being called a mama’s boy wasn’t that bad after all? But this wasn’t a topic that most men discussed in the late 80’s & 90’s.
When I got married, my wife was appreciative of my relationship with my mom and never tried to drive a wedge between us or be disruptive to our relationship. My mom knew her boundaries, but that didn’t mean I didn’t council with her about raising a family and how to maintain a healthy marriage. I think it is so important for men to have someone they can confide in that has no hidden agenda. Let’s face it, we are very lucky if we have three people on the planet that actually truly care about us, and for me, one of those people has always been, and will always be my mom.
My wife and I are raising two daughters and over the years, I have found the dynamics of a mother daughter relationship to be very different, but there is still a common thread. When our children are happy, my wife is happy. When my children are sad, my wife is sad. This emotional connection and the ability to feel what another is feeling completely astounds me. How many people out there really feel when you feel? How many people lose sleep at night worrying about you?
My mom is now in her early 80’s and her health is failing. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and I know not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about me. I am 54 and my mom still calls me every other day to ask me how I feel, how’s the job, kids and wife and if I made it home safe from my business trip. She is my raving fan and looking back, I don’t regret one day or minute of my life being a mama’s boy.
Maybe it’s time we change the dynamics around being a mama’s boy by teaching sons from a very young age to embrace and cherish the unconditional love our moms provide us with and to celebrate, honor, and respect mothers far beyond the second Sunday in May.
Recently, I was asked by someone half my age, “Are you a mama’s boy”? My answer, “YOU ARE DAMN RIGHT I AM!”