It’s a ‘Mother with Sons’ thing…

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Feature

My husband and I have been traveling, and I saw a scene play out in front of me yesterday that both made me smile and made my heart ache. Not in a bad way, just a gentle aching that I sometimes get when I miss my sons.

I was in a very nice shop in Ireland that sells woolen items, looking for something to keep me warm as we continue our travels. A mother and son were also shopping, evidently looking for a gift for the son’s wife or girlfriend. The mother was there to help, and the son was totally lost in the middle of the scarves, blankets, ponchos and sweaters.

I had asked the sales clerk to demonstrate for me how to wrap one of the long wool scarves, and the mother and son were looking on intently.  As the sales clerk draped and wrapped and folded the scarf in a way that I can never repeat when I get home, the mother said gently to her son, “See, son, I told you it is something you wear. It’s not a blanket. It’s a perfectly lovely gift for her.”

“Oh, mum,”  the exasperated young man said,  “I just want to bring her in, and let her suit herself. Then I will bag it up for the party.”

“Mum,” wisely, was having none of that, and they left the store with a beautiful scarf that would make any wife/girlfriend happy.

I finished my shopping and stepped outside to see mother and son chatting and laughing over a cup of tea at a little sidewalk cafe. It wasn’t really anything special, and I obviously knew nothing about this mother/son duo. What I did know was that my heart hurt, and I wanted to immediately call both my sons and tell them I miss them.

Do all moms of adult children get those waves of nostalgia that lead to a touch of melancholy? It isn’t the first time I have, seemingly out of nowhere, just been consumed with a longing to see or at least talk to my boys … who aren’t boys anymore… who have boys of their own now… who are, by all measures, good sons who keep in touch and give me very little about which to complain.

There is something special about a mother/son relationship. I knew this before I had sons, because I have a brother. My mother didn’t love him any more than she loved me, but she loved him differently. At some point, my mother and I became friends. With my brother, she was always his mother, and he was always her adored little boy.

I cherish my relationships with my sons. My boys are fun, funny, thoughtful, talented and interesting. So, sometimes, I just simply miss having them around. It sweeps over me like an ocean wave.

Being a problem-solver, I usually just meet the feeling head on, pick up the phone and call them. They are used to calls for no particular reason, and they tolerate them fairly well. If I can’t reach them, I send the “nothing wrong, just miss you” text, and they call me back later.

The time difference got me this time. It was very early morning on a work day in Nashville and even earlier in Seattle. So I smiled at the mother/son duo as I walked past the cafe, stopped, turned around and said to them, “Enjoy your day.”

The mother smiled, and I think the son said, “Thank you.” It was either that or “Crazy Yanks…”

Either way, I felt better, and I’m sure Mum understood.


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