I don’t know if this holds true for parents in my generation but I am noticing (more and more) that when it comes to boys their mothers tend to be more accepting of them, as they are. Their relationship is not dependent on the how they look, or how they fare in school or how many friends are acceptable or not. Mothers of boys love them as they are, and as they grow up, tend to stay unshakable. There is blanket acceptance. This acceptance changes how the relationship evolves. It starts from always giving them what they want, whether its food or clothes or any other wish to it becoming a version of constantly wanting to serve your grown son. This acceptance is unshakeable. No other relationship in the son’s life can change this acceptance.
But girls and their mothers are never that way. Girls, from a young age, learn the nuances of looking good, being good, scoring better, constantly trying to outdo what they did the last time in order to stay the favourite. Affections from their mother also varies depending on which phase of life the daughter is going through. More love when the daughter gets married and goes “away” while less love when she isn’t acceptably married. More love if she is prettier than her peers. Less love as puberty approaches.
An aunt, while speaking about her son, went on to talk about her anxiety about who his wife would be because how would her son stay her son if he didn’t marry the right girl. But, the end of that sentence dismissed her daughter and her marriage because daughters and mothers always stay close, she said. It’s her son and his wife that she was thinking about.
I was brought up in a family of two girls but I still feel, to this day, that the relationship with my mother ebbs and flows based on current happenings in the family. I can think of many different occasions where I would lash out at my mother, demanding she stand by me or believe me rather than people who did not belong to our family. I don’t remember a single time when I can say that I got the same blanket acceptance I see my husband getting even today, from his mother.
What’s worse is that I don’t think my mother (or me, for that matter) even realised it is missing. I realise that as I have grown older my mother’s expectations from me have completely changed. Not only becoming a care giver but even taking on the mantle of unravelling so called family knots. On the other hand, I am also to become a care giver to my husband’s family, who have their share of knots. But he stays unshakable, comfortable in the knowledge that his mother is there whenever he needs her. This thought made me realise why that acceptance rankled so.
It’s because I have never known something like it.