My oldest son has been acting in a peculiar manner lately. He’s been better behaved, downright chipper, imbibes less frequently, and doesn’t go out every day that ends in y.
Something is amiss. Something big. I wonder if he’s sick.
Oh, he’s sick all right.
It’s a girlfriend. He’s a 23-year-old little boy, and this would be the first time he has committed to anything other than a Coors Light can and a tattoo. I don’t know whether to be stymied or applaud. But I do know one thing: I am shaken. I mean, he’s my boy. Right?
Listen. We mothers are the ones who put in the hard time grooming our little vagrants for future relationships. Our example is what sets the precedent for their impending adoration of another human being; they learn how to treat others by observing us.
I worked hard to right the adolescent wrongs: Don’t pull your pants down in pubic; don’t pick your nose and eat it; do not fib; don’t steal my vodka! These lessons were engraved upon his soul, but sometimes we wonder if it was enough.
I required more intel.
“Son,” I said. “Tell me more about this girl.”
Me: “But you tell me everything!”
Nick: “That stopped when I told you I liked that girl in fourth grade and you went to her house and introduced yourself.”
Me: “In my defense, I wanted to make sure she didn’t have head lice. Plus, I needed to ascertain that she knew the difference between there, they’re and their. I mean, you can’t have a crush on some dummy.”
Nick: “You are a crazy, crazy old lady.”
Sigh. He isn’t wrong. I have deep issues. Deep. Clinical.
But, he’s currently completing a nursing program in New York City. How, in God’s name, does he have time for a girlfriend?
Well, I’ve finally met her and, although I apparently scared her, I like her a great deal. I was so distracted, however, I never checked her for lice.
But, despite liking her, the fact he has a relationship from which I am so removed bothers me.
Me: “Well, all I’m saying is in pre-school you told me you wanted to marry me …”
Nick: “That was super-creepy when I was 4, and it’s still disturbing today. Maria, you need a hobby.”
Me: “Well. I’m giving you back your promise ring.”
I think I’m one of those mothers — the ones I used to make fun of. Like my mother-in-law, before she was my mother-in-law.
I’ve been with my husband since we were 16 years old. While my parents didn’t care that I had a boyfriend — they were thrilled that someone without an outstanding warrant liked me — his mother is still getting over it. For her, I was neither Italian enough, nor devout church-going enough for her baby boy. Then. And now.
She’ll come around.
The truth is that when our boys become adults, those of us who nurture the hell out of them have a hard time accepting any other counterpart stepping into our relationship. I know it sounds unhealthy, but I’m very attached to him, and it’s hard to share.
I’ll come around.
I can only pray that the relationship lifescapes we’ve taught him since he was able to wipe his own rear end have infiltrated into his life and will make him an excellent partner: Respect, empathy, kind heartedness and, above all else, compassion. One more thing he should have learned: Don’t give your mother a promise ring in pre-K unless you can keep your promise.
I hear the creepiness now.
There, they’re, their.
Maria Jiunta Heck, of West Pittston, is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.