Friday, November 30, 2007

Good Boys

No, not good ol’ boys, or good little boys, I’m writing of good men that I’ve met in the last wee while here in this microcosm of life that is Newfoundland. And I’m particularly writing of men around their mothers. I don’t have sons so have never experienced this directly.

My mother was dead before her four sons had a chance to be men around her though I did get a small taste with my eldest brother who had this jocular almost flirtatious manner with her. Her face would light up when he walked into a room and he was the spit of her own father, which helped. But I’d watch him cajole money from her or attempt to get her to intercede with Dad or tell her she was the only special woman in his life as he dropped a kiss on her cheek. She was putty in his hands.

My series of husband/serious relationships men all had troubles of some kind with their mothers. In some cases they avoided their mothers, or would vocally castigate the relationship a la Dick and Tommy Smothers, saying that Mom always preferred a brother. And in one case a sister. For some, their mothers had not approved of their marital choices or their children. I had an odd set up with my own mother-in-law. She really didn’t like my husband very much (she definitely preferred his brother) and when he and I broke up she refused to have contact with him and befriended me completely. It might have helped that I had custody of her goddesses, the granddaughters.

My father adored his mother and she him, a fact that troubled my mother greatly and had them (she and her mother-in-law) set up a lose-lose scenario where her enemy became her mother-in-law and vice versa. My mother was never present when my father and his mother interacted but I observed his courtesy and courtly attention and was bemused by this previously hidden facet of my father.

I play cards with my fellow villagers here every week and our large group encompass all ages. Many mothers and their middle-aged sons play. It is their ‘evening out’ together and in most cases the wives/daughters-in-law are elsewhere.

It is a joy to be around the kind of energy these, in some cases, crusty old fishermen, exhibit towards their mothers – this courtly behaviour I had first observed in my own father. Retrieving their lacy shawls, linking them proudly into the village hall before and after the game. Fetching them little sandwiches and cups of tea.

“Are you alright there, now Mum?”

“Ah, you’re such a good boy. What would I do without my boy?”

And for one brief, shining moment you catch a glimpse of the freckled ten-year-old boy in the face of the sixty-plus year old wind-burned, bald fisherman, himself a grandfather.

Good boys.

The world needs more of them.


  1. Oh dear, I'm nothing like as attentive to my mum, though that's mainly because she lives 350 miles away in London so I can hardly pop round for a chat or to have a look at the faulty telly. Also she's fiercely independent and likes to solve all her problems herself. Part of me thinks it was healthier when family members all lived round the corner and they could keep an eye on each other, but another part thinks it's better that people now move around and follow opportunities for self-development. But the person I was really fond of was my maternal grandma who was unfailingly affectionate and indulgent and always encouraged the best in me.

  2. Maybe I'm naive to be so charmed, Nick, having so rarely been around this (to me) mother and son dynamic.
    I've got mixed feelings on community also and don't regret my emigration for a second but a small part of me cries out for this type of connectivity and this is why I enjoy living here so much, I think.

  3. My last two long term relationships have been with men raised by their mothers alone. I have to this date observed so many common behaviour patterns, it's not funny or comforting.
    I am not saying single-motherhood is bad, at all. However, it does define somethings in the child (boy) that sometimes can be detrimental in future relationships. Ok, I have just generalized my experience with only 2 people, to the entire situation of boys raised by their mother's alone. It's just that the resemblances are so noticeable.
    My brother has never been mummy's or daddy's boy. We are 3; 2 girls and 1 boy, well 2 women and 1 man, and none grew up to display such bond to either parent, other than sheer and utter love for both, but great independence and autonomy. :) (or so I'd like to think heh)

  4. Hi WWW

    I don't know. I don't think lack of good men is a problem. Most men are good and nice. I do think 'western' women have taken opportunities to pursue their own interests regardless of men's needs en masse, and that's only in the last two generations. This trend will eventually make our world very different.




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