Yesterday I witnessed an interesting incident on how mothers can sometimes suffocate their sons. I would like to share this moment.
My brother went out yesterday evening to watch a basketball game. When he did not come back that night, my mother started worrying herself sick. She would not sleep, would pace through the house restlessly, while constantly carrying the phone in hopes of a call.
I think to some degree it is normal for a mother to worry and fret about her children. But in this particular case (and this certainly wasn’t the first of its kind), it also had an element to it that felt very wrong. I noticed that seeing her in this behaviour made me very angry and I began to wonder why.
I think this is because there is a part in my mother in such moments, that holds on to seeing my brother as a boy. This part in my mother refuses to see my brother as the man that he is at the age of 32. And every time she sends that energy out, she makes it harder for him or flat-out denies him becoming a man and claiming responsibility for its own life.
The man in me gets angry seeing this.
The only healthy reaction a man can have to something like this is anger and a “pushing away”. So while I agree it would have been nice for my brother to send a quick message when he decided to spend the night elsewhere, I think it is actually rather important that he doesn’t. He needs to create space, distance and separation from his mother, if he wants to become a responsible man and create a life for himself.
I think this whole dynamic might be more common than one would think:
Mothers who suffocate there sons in such way.
The Complexity of the Situation
Finally I want to honour the complexity of that particular situation. Because it is certainly not as simple as putting all the blame and responsibility for it on my mother alone.
It must be mentioned that my brother lives in her house and eats the food she pays for. And while that is a problem in its own right and a topic for another day, becoming a man also means rejecting such comfortable things. It means cooking your own food, paying for your own place, cleaning up after yourself and fighting your own battles.
I think for boys growing up, this is where the father is needed. And with our father having left the family when we were younger, I’m not surprised to see such issues being present now. I have certainly felt them myself. Sometimes I still do.
Many ancient cultures have rituals for boys who want to transition into the world of men. I don’t know all the key-elements of such rituals but I know about two: a separation from the world of the mother and an atonement with the father.
As far as I understand it, the separation from the world of the mother stands for a removal of everything that is comfortable and protective. Atonement with the father stands for “getting in tune” with the world of men.
Both wasn’t very present for us boys of the family.
And so here we are, being forced to figure this out on our own.
Not an easy thing to do.
Finally I would also like to honor everything my mother did for us. Working a full-time job and raising three young boys alone is something I am not sure I would be able to accomplish. It seems a daunting task.