The Nitty Gritty Of A Single Mom
What does it take for a woman to understand the subtle nuances of raising sons on her own?
One of my favorite lines about being a single mom raising a boy is that it makes you realize what simple creatures men are. There are no shades of grey with boys: it's all or nuthin', black or white, the remote or the Playstation. End of story.
I'm talking about boys as they approach. or worse still, hit, adolescence. Before that I can't say there's much discernible difference, except for the clothes you dress them in and the toys they like to destroy.
But now that my son Sam is about to reach that magical 'tween age of 14, I've come to realize how little I really know about what it's like to be a male in this world. I mean, like, REALLY know!
For instance, a couple months ago during our daily drive to school Sam asked, "Mom, have I hit puberty yet?" Well, what was I supposed to say? Heck! I don't know when boys hit puberty, and worse still, I haven't ANY IDEA what happens to them when they do, (which unfortunately turned out to be the next question).
When I mumbled something about it happening soon, and he'd know, and his voice would drop (amongst other things, or so I've been led to believe?), he punched the air and shouted "Yes! I'll start having sexual urges, won't I Mom?!"
After I veered back on to the right side of the road, we continued our drive to school in silence while I contemplated who I could talk to about such things, or whether there was a book I could buy on amazon specifically for dummy mummy's like me. The ones who have no clue about what is shortly going to happen to my son, other than the obvious! With no immediate family, no brothers, no family priest and no men (sadly!) on the horizon, I simply don't know where to turn.
Which only made the second part of the pre-adolescent charade even more disconcerting.
As a mom, I'm sure you'll know those times when your children ask you a question that you KNOW is going to impact on whether they turn into a gentle, sensitive, tree-hugging male human being or a mass murderer with a grandmother fixation? Well, this was one of those moments:
This is the conversation, as I recall it:
"Mom, hypothetically speaking, what would you say if I told you I was looking up porn on the Internet?"
"Sheesh! Right in the middle of devouring my Oprah magazine, couldn't you have picked a better time to ask me - like twenty years from now?"
Ten minutes silence ensue while I desperately think about what I'm going to say.
"Well, darling, I know you're probably going to do it anyway while I'm not around... just don't tell me about it, OK?" Wherein I launched into what Sam calls one of my "Winstons" (named after the great orator Winston Churchill, who was renowned for giving long-winded speeches) about porn is degrading to women blah blah blah, sex is a beautiful act blah blah blah. To which my very jocular son responded with, "Yeah Mom, heard it all a thousand times before, blah blah blah!"
The final, and possibly most telling part of the charade occurred only recently when Sam, once again catching me at one of my off-guard moments (aren't they all?) announced, "Mom, hypothetically speaking (who is hypothetical anyway and why can't HE answer these questions?), what are you gonna say when I ask you to wash my sheets on a non-sheet washing day?"
Now...we have a saying in our house called TMI - or "too much information" - and this was definitely one of those TMI moments.
But being the loving, caring, right-up-there-in-the-moment kinda mom I am, after another of those painfully long silences while I not only had to come to terms with my feeling of being totally grossed out, and trying to painfully digest what I'd just heard, figured I may as well make a joke of it and say, "Hey, who said anything about ME washing sheets? YOU want your sheets washed boy, YOU wash 'em yourself!" Amen! Problem solved - for now anyway.
I know the road from here on up is going to be fraught with all sorts of bumps and grinds - so to speak - and I know it would be easy to say I should try to find a male role model to help me get through all this grossed out male stuff, but I vowed many years ago that I could do it on my own, and do it I WILL!
It's just why can't boys be more like girls - complete with bad hair days, hormonal nightmares, the wrong shade of designer jeans, worse still, the wrong shade of designer lipstick, Rocky - the cute boy at school - who called me a ho, is it Britney or Madonna this week, blah blah blah...
At least I'd know the answers to the questions, or at least understand the questions to begin with.