When I was 25 I vowed never to try to change a man. At 30 I realized that thanks to their mothers, every guy is going to need some tweaking. Unfortunately for our generation, our husbands’ doting mothers went out of their way to ensure that their son would always need them, and that no woman would ever live up to dear old mom. The result; needy, pouting, non-communicating, helpless slobs who grow up expecting their wives to pick up their dirty socks, learn how to make mom's special grilled cheese sandwiches and apple pie, always put their needs first, and to anticipate their every need before they are forced to express themselves verbally. And mom would accept nothing less from her future daughter-in-law than her very best, yet never quite good enough, efforts to fill her shoes.
I love my mother-in-law dearly. She raised five boys and was the typical doting mother (I often dream of the difference just one sister would have made in this family). Even now, no one can walk into her house without being bombarded with a barrage of “Can I get you…or…or some…?” Her grown boys are often shamelessly unappreciative of her undying need to serve them and at times, respond in a very obnoxious manner. I insist she should scold them when they do this and she says she is too nice and they are grown men and she doesn't feel that would be right. It's a lost cause at this point and while I love her youngest son very much, I resent having to teach him the basics that his mother let fall through the cracks. I have even, on occasion, suggested (insistently) that he call her and apologize for his behavior. “I hope she doesn’t think you speak to me that way, or that I will ever let our son speak to me like that.” Enough said (for now). I don’t believe in scolding grown men either, until he acts like a bratty child.
When I was growing up, my brother would declare that he was hungry and my mother would offer to make him something. When I said it, she would offer me a list of things that I could make myself. I'm grateful for her teaching me to be self-sufficient, and confused as to why she didn't think my brother needed this life skill. The other day I was at my brother's house visiting with my sister-in-law. He was doing some painting in their new house and she was tending to their baby. At one point my brother said, "Julie make me...I mean, can you make me a ham and cheese sandwich please." She and I looked at each other in disgust knowing he what he was going to say before he remembered they had company. Luckily his wife is a strong woman who is begrudgingly trying to patch the holes my mother left in my brother.
Our society has taught us (falsely) that boys are the tougher sex, so if our son is crying or simply not content, he must really, really need his mommy. Wrong! He is crying because he knows mommy will cave. Then these boys grow into men, their crying turns into pouting and the caving in becomes the wife's job. Well I have two children to raise and no intention of setting the poor example of caving in to anyone’s pouting!
We, as mothers have a responsibility to our fellow women. Take a good look at your husband, or even your father, and ask yourself what would make them a better husband/father. Be sure to instill these missing links in your son. I will teach my son to communicate his feelings, attempt to meet his own needs before assuming someone else will, and most of all RESPECT HIS MOTHER. He will learn (with any luck) to have faith in himself that even when I am not around, he will survive with the skills I have given him.
We all want our sons to fall for a woman who reminds them of dear old mom. But while I hope that my son seeks out a woman just like his mother, I hope he is drawn to her for her strength, her big heart and her unconditional love rather than her desire to meet his every need. His wife will thank me later.