As a mother of all boys and with a mother in law who raised all boys, I feel like I have been given a unique opportunity, a special perspective into my relationship with my husband, my mother in law, and my own kids. They say the relationship between a mother and son is one of love and devotion unlike any other. Since I do not have any daughters, I cannot attest to the comparison. However, I do know that the love I have for my sons is a tempestuous, emotional, and ardent kind of love that takes over my whole heart. The love they give me can lift me higher than I ever thought possible and I’m reminded how easily my heart could be crushed and destroyed should anything ever happen to them. It is such a vulnerable feeling. It is like standing on the edge of the world marveling at its beauty and knowing that at any moment you could topple over.
It’s in the moments I analyze these feelings—and this vulnerability—that I most think about my mother-in-law. Did she feel this way for her boys, too? Does she still?
And so, as one boy mom to another boy mom, this is what I’d like her to know:
When I look at my boys, I feel like nobody could ever love them the way I do. I feel like nobody could ever look after them the way that I do. I struggle every day with wanting to teach them independence but also not wanting them to ever stop needing me. I struggle with wanting them to grow stronger through experiencing hardship and failures, but also wanting to protect them from ever being sad or disappointed.
I want you to know that because I have these feelings, I try to love your son—my husband—as I would like my boys’ future spouses to love them one day. When your son needs help, reassurance, or encouragement, I am there for him to give him all of my love. I share in his disappointments and in his moments of sadness. I want you to know that your son will never feel alone or unloved.
Just as I now kiss my boys’ scraped knees, hold them at night when they’ve had nightmares, or reassure them when their hearts are broken by unkind friends, I know that you once did the same for my husband. Although the worries evolved as he grew older, I know it was the same love you gave that comforted him. You were his safe space, just as I hope to be for my own boys. This boy mom love is teaching me to love your son in a brand new way, and I want you to know that.
When I hold your son’s hand, that strong hand that is twice the size of mine, I try to remember that it was once a small, chubby hand with dimples where the knuckles would one day be. I imagine you kissing that tiny hand just as I now kiss my own baby boy’s hand. When your son smiles at me, I imagine him smiling at you with a few teeth missing excited that the tooth fairy will be visiting him again. Your son was, and is, precious to you, I know that. And so, although I have loved him for a very long time, my love for him has never been quite like what it became once I became a boy mom, too.
I want you to know that I love him, and will continue to love him—for me and for you, too.
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