I was coming back to the house from a long walk, sweaty, sore, and tired and I saw you kicking the soccer ball around in the yard, waiting for me to return to take you to practice. As I got closer, you walked toward me and I reached for you hoping for a hug, as I always do. To my surprise, you fell into my open arms even though I was sticky with stink. I pulled you closer into my hold and held on for dear life as you wrapped your arms back around me. And at that moment, my heart was soaring with gratitude for this rare and beautiful gift from you. It meant everything to me.
We turned toward the garage and walked up the driveway with our arms wrapped around each other, and all I wanted to do was shout out to the world, “LOOK AT US! MY BOY LOVES ME!” I wish someone was recording that precious scene because moments like those are fading fast.
This year has been full of change, of shifts and transitions, and I’m trying to adjust as best I can to your needs as you rapidly transform into a young man. You’ve always been my lovable little boy, stretching your arms out to me any chance we had to hug, always holding each other tight. Physical touch has always been your love language. You’ve adored that kind of attention since you were born.
But recently things have begun to change and the boundary line that was once non-existent between us is clearly forming. I knew it would happen. I’ve read all about it and watched it transpire with other growing boys and their moms, and yet, I always thought that wouldn’t happen with you. I always assumed you would be different, that our hugs would last forever. I was wrong.
So many times, I pull you in and you resist. So many times, my arms are pushed away with an unusual sense of discomfort coming from you. At times, I jokingly tell you that your mama deserves and needs your hugs, and I try with all my might to scoop your not-so-little body into my arms, but to my dismay, you’ll tell me to back off. All of a sudden, you’ve grown uncomfortable with my hugs and even tell me I’m weird to want them.
Oh, that breaks my heart. Where’d my little loving boy go?
I know this is how it’s supposed to be. I know this transition is natural and needed. I expect it will only get harder for me as you continue to develop your independent ways and learn that young men don’t snuggle with their mamas. I know society teaches boys to be strong and secure, not needing affection or attention from their moms. I know you believe that maturing into a man forces you to hide those needs, deny those desires, and make all those emotions go away.
Please understand that everyone deserves and desires love and attention from their parents, no matter how old they are. Oh, my sweet boy, needing and wanting tender love from your mom doesn’t make you any less of a man. It makes you a better man. A stronger man. It takes confidence and courage to allow that vulnerable side of you to show. Every man has that part of him inside too. You aren’t weak or insecure just because you enjoy your mom’s affection.
Behind every great man, is a mom who hugged him and loved him through those awkward teenage years. And I know that someday you’ll understand that and not be embarrassed by my love. I know that someday, you’ll be wise enough and mature enough to appreciate the special bond we have, as only moms and their sons do. Oh, sweet boy, no matter how long it takes for you to be comfortable with this truth, no matter how hard things get during these tumultuous teen years, please know my love is unshakable and unstoppable. No matter how much you push me away, no matter how hard you resist my hugs and my affection, you will never lose me or my love. I will always be there to hug you.
So, as you grow older and get stronger, as you get bigger and want your own space, I will respect the boundary lines you draw and I will understand your need for distance, for separation, for affirmation that you are indeed growing up and away from the arms of your mom.
I am so proud of the young man you are turning out to be. I never want to make you feel uncomfortable with my physical affection, but also know I’m loving you from afar.
And always remember that when you need more than just a smile, encouraging words, or my presence.
When you really just need a hug from your mom…
No matter how old, how grown, how big and strong you are, your mom’s love is always ready to wrap around your old and grown and big and strong body at any time- always and forever.
And in those precious rare moments when you allow me to hold you in my arms, please just let me hold you a little bit longer.
Because no matter how old you get, how big you get, how strong you get, and how independent you become…
I will always need it, crave it, and want it from you.