I pulled out my journal and started writing about what I would love to do for my birthday this year. I love celebrating birthdays, mine and those of my loved ones.
I began to write, “I would love to go on a mother/son adventure with my 2 boys. Just the 3 of us” My heart started pounding as I read back what I had written. I felt guilty and greedy and wondered if it was even an appropriate request. Would their wives be offended and would my husband, their step-dad, feel left out? “They are married and in their 30’s, they are grown men, this is not an appropriate request, those days are over,” I reflected.
But I sat with my wish for 2 days and I felt this yearning to ask them. They could always say no. I would understand. Finally, I built up the courage….
“Hey, do you guys want to head to Utah for the Dec 11th weekend….just the 3 of us. Are you free? I know it comes between the holidays, but I was thinking this would be an awesome way to celebrate my birthday.”
I held my breath and pressed send. I braced myself for many responses but the one I got wasn’t the one I expected and it happened instantly.
“Sounds so great Mom.”
“Yes and yes.”
Omg, that was so fast.
“I’m so excited, wow guys, I can’t believe it. Thank you. Thank you.”
My heart rate did an uptick and a flush of oxytocin filled my veins. I was giddy.
And, that was it. We had a birthday plan.
And then the strangest thing happened that made me think we Moms of boys need our own revolution, a little equal time. I have been told over and over again, once the boys are married, they are gone. It’s just the way it is.
Not mine, I would protest. The boys and I talk, we are good. . But the truth is life happens, and they have their wives and one has a new baby, and yes indeed, life happens and the Mom role has shifted. And this is as it should be.
“But, that doesn’t mean the mother/son relationship is over. It’s just different. We can still have reunions!” I blurt out to the only one who was listening…me.
“But Mom and Sons getaways? This is not something we hear about,” my mind was racing trying to think if I knew anyone at all who had done this.
“You mean you’re not inviting your son’s wives?” This was the refrain from 100 percent of the people I told. And this was my response over and over…..
“Well, I haven’t been away with my boys in years and I suggested the 3 of us go away and have some time together. Admittedly when I first conceived of the idea it felt selfish. I love their wives and we have been lucky to spend lots pf family time together lately. So, I was hesitant but decided to ask anyway I was so excited they were all in.”
“But what about your husband?”
“Really?” I thought. “Why am I having to defend this decision?”
“Think about it like a mother/daughter get-away or a father/son get-away.” And when I said that, they stopped asking. They got it!
I spent some time reflecting on this phenomenon. Not having daughters, I have often felt a little envious of my girlfriends who would go away on their mother/daughter trips with a group of other mother/daughters or on their own. No one questions a mother/daughter get-away, it’s the most natural thing. And no one questions a father/son get away either.
When my son’s friends would take off with their dads on adventures I would think about how my boys don’t have that option as they lost their dad in their teenage years. I have thought for a long time that I wanted to take them on a mother/son trip but who does that, especially after they are married?
But the truth is, my boys and I enjoy alot of the same activities. We love adventure and sports. It wasn’t like we were going to head to a spa (although I’m sure they would not have minded). So this past weekend we did it!
I first picked my younger son up at the airport. His best buddy called, asked what he was up to and he smiled heartily, “We’re putting the band back together.”
“OMG, that’s the best, yes, we’re putting the band back together…. when was the last time the 3 of us hung out together?” I laughed out loud.
When my older son showed up we talked about how we had no idea when the last time was the 3 of were together — just us. He was so happy to be together.
And so it began. We jumped in feet first. There wasn’t much we didn’t do. We cross country skied for hours, ate great food, talked til midnight and played our new favorite word game, Up Words while we watched Elf. We drank our favorite Red Breast Whiskey and shot pool. They cooked steaks and I ate my salad gloating at my 2 favorite carnivores.
And we talked, we hung out and we talked some more. We were all at a place in our lives that felt good and yet again, a time of reflection. I kept teasing about how I was so glad I still have so much energy but the runway is getting shorter. Having them acknowledge this truth felt good. The conversations around how important our times together are were pretty special.
We listened to each other. We really listened. We took the time to explain where we had felt misunderstood and hurt and how to work on some stuff with each other, how to listen without judgement. It was the most loving visit.
I am writing this and reflecting as I sit on the plane flying east having said goodbye to them both this morning. An ear to ear grin spreads across my face as I write…. the loss of not being able to be the Mom I had always been for them, was replaced by total satisfaction in knowing how deep our love is for one another. Knowing that I’ve always been their Mom and always will be.
What a birthday present I got from those 2! I am so proud of my boys, of the men they have become. I got to tell them real time, not with a text or a greeting card, but in the moment.
It seems ironic but this year’s birthday present was always there, I just had to unwrap it. It came wrapped in three plus decades of momhood, with the learning and the wisdom that comes with time. Somehow gratitude feels more accessible as the years tick on.
Thank you boys. I loved the gift and will treasure it always.