Over the years, I’ve reminded Drew of what my expectations are. It warms my heart when, after every meal I place on the table, he automatically and authentically says, “Thank you, Mom.” Sometimes, just before my lips part, he says: “I know, Mom. Make sure I tell my wife I appreciate her cooking.”
And although she never knew it, a woman at my former church is behind that instruction to my son. Because shortly after a nurse put my 7-pound, 4-ounce bundle in my arms, I knew that I wanted him to become her brand of “momma’s boy.”
That’s what I think a man should be.
Everything about that woman in my church exuded regal. The way her shoulders naturally fell backward, her stately gait, genteel manners and slight, confident lift to the chin on her smooth almond-colored face said royalty.
But more than anything, it was the way that her sons treated her that sealed my opinion of her as a queen.
Those four men redefined “momma’s boy” for me. They’re far from the weak, fawning, grow-a-pair-already Michael J character in Steve’s Harvey’s Think Like a Man, who made me, and every other woman, want to slap him and his controlling mother.
No, these four men portrayed strong character, independent thinking, savvy career planning, financial stability and unquestionable confidence. What was more evident was their deep, sacrificial love for their mom, and how that extended to how they regarded all women. Whatever she had done raising four towering boys alone, it sure looked to me like she did it right.
I never saw her touch a door when they were present. After every church service, they found their way to her. If ever I was in earshot, I’d hear inquiries about an event in her week or their intent to help solve a challenge for her. The words, like the looks, were always warm, loving, protective.
Years later, one of her sons, a contractor, was working on my house. He told me a story that continues to resonate with me and validated my assumptions about their relationship. Their mom had asked one of the brothers to handle a small kitchen repair. The result was a complete remodel for the outdated space, compliments of all of them.
Over the years, I observed how those men treated their wives. I was never in their homes, so I have no idea how this love for momma played out privately in their relationships. But in public, it was nothing short of impressive. Instinctively, they helped remove coats and hastened to open doors. Quintessential gentlemen.
It was clear to me that “momma’s boys”—raised lovingly, respected as individuals, disciplined with love, guided with character, taught to work hard, coached in civility, molded with manners and released to do good in the world—appreciate, respect and love the women in their lives.
I wish I could have found that wise woman to ask her how she pulled it off. I became a single mom when my baby was only 5 months old, and sure could have benefited from her wisdom.
I've tried to work my way backward, looking at the results she produced and filling in the gaps on how I think she must have molded her young men.
So, this year, I taught Drew to make four simple meals. Eventually, I’ll make sure that he masters more. After all, I expect him to be able to cook for my daughter-in-law, not just purchase groceries and say “thanks."
My goal is to make sure he’s relationship-ready when the right time comes. After all, I’m not raising him for me. I’m grooming him to be the man he hopes to be, equipping him to make a difference in this world, to love and be loveable, to respect himself and others, to protect and provide for a family.
Sometimes I chuckle when he hastens to “protect” me. I really can handle that hopping spider on my own. And he didn’t need to hasten to my side because a strange male approached me in the grocery store. That dude just wanted to know what I thought his wife meant when she wrote “dry mustard” on his list.
I see signs that he’s becoming a “momma’s boy”—the man who listens and absorbs life lessons to make wise, respectful choices.
What momma doesn’t want that?
Christy Oglesby lives in Atlanta. She's a veteran writer for newspapers, websites and television. Go to Facebook, share your moms-and-sons story, and invite your friends to do the same.
Christy Oglesby lives in Atlanta. She's a veteran writer for newspapers, websites and television.