I'll never forget the moment. Every hair on my arm stood up. My face flushed red and my heart pounded so hard I felt it in my throat.
It was one of those "Mama Bear" moments we don't see coming, but hits us hard and fast. It's instinctual and raw, and there's not a whole lot you can do but breathe and hope you can defend yourself and your cub without the claws coming out.
My two oldest boys were young (and #3 and #4 weren't on the radar just yet), and we were on a family walk one cool, December evening. I kept both boys close to me, either holding their hands or carrying one piggyback and holding the hand of the other while we walked. It was a neighborhood street, but the darkening sky and the numerous curves and driveways made me a little nervous.
As mommies tend to do, I imagined a car whipping around a curve, driving nonchalantly down the road it's traveled a hundred times, not noticing the two blond little boys bouncing ahead of a group of adults. So, when one of my boys would wiggle away, I'd quickly remind (squeal/holler/yelp at) him to come back to us and hold someone's hand. They'd always skip back to me and grab my hand or jump into my arms to be carried for a few minutes, both of which made my heart smile.
I was enjoying the walk, the cool air on my face, the sweet time with my boys. And then one of the adults with us shook his head and said, "Ya know, you're raising them to be mama's boys."
And just like that, the coolness was gone, replaced with hot steam billowing from my ears.
I don't know why something so simple would create such a deep reaction, but it did. I felt the immediate need to defend myself, my parenting skills (that I was still learning and curating every day), my intense love for my boys, and my work-in-progress philosophical outlook on the future.
As a youngish mom, I didn't know what I was doing on so many occasions. I still sometimes question the right discipline technique, the right words, the right learning opportunities. But, then and now, I know what I want for my boys.
My response that day was a forced smile and simply, "You're ABSOLUTELY right. I pray every day they'll be mama's boys."
Because to me that isn't a negative title. To me, it means they'll WANT to be around their mom. They'll trust me, they'll confide in me, they'll respect me, and they'll include me in their lives. They'll feel loved and not judged by me. They'll look forward to our time together and not bothered by it. They'll know our relationship means support, and honesty, and love.
It is not a substitute for their relationships with future spouses. It is a lifelong love and respect that I hope makes them better men in those future relationships.
So while that person continued his chatter by listing the reasons why having "mama's boys" was a negative thing, my mind was drowning out his voice with the thoughts of beautiful relationships with my boys as they become gentlemen and start families of their own. Part of me wanted to just scoop them up and run back to the house, and part of me wanted to scream and let the fire that had started come bursting out.
But, I loathe confrontation. I'm not good at it and it makes me sweat and stumble over my words. So, I bit my tongue, looked at my sweet, bubbly little boys, and thanked God for this deep feeling that I'm doing something right.
Maybe not right in everyone's eyes, but right in my heart.
Because I want my boys to know they can always hang out with me, they can always come to me, and they will always be their mama's boys.