As mothers, we know that feeling loved brings our sons deep satisfaction, contentment, and a sense of security that they will take with them into adulthood. When they are born we ogle over them and wonder how we can feel such intense love for one human being. But as our boys grow older, that perfect love can become complicated by the realities of day-to-day living. Sometimes our sons make us mad, or they disappoint us. Sometimes it feels as though they don’t appreciate us. Gone is the little boy who trusted us as his entire world, and in his place is a toddler who tells us that we don’t know what we’re talking about because after all, we’re just “Mom.” With our daughters, it’s easier to talk things out and get at the emotional core of the issues that arise. But girls are communicators and most boys aren’t. Though exact statistics vary among research, the number of words that females use per day is in the order of thirteen thousand more than men per day. Boys see through a different lens than we do and often it is hard to understand one another. In fact, many times when we try to make amends by discussing our feelings with our sons, we can be met with further rejection because boys don’t always want to talk things through. And then, hurt, we often end up pulling back, which creates unnecessary distance between us without solving the problem.
But it is important to remember that no son can be genuinely happy unless he knows deep in his soul that his mother loves him. Remember earlier when I said that mom represents safety? For our children, their mother’s love has to be nonnegotiable and constant. That’s why it sometimes seems that they take our love for granted; they do. We are the ones who won’t change. We won’t leave, run out, or withhold love. At least, that’s what they want to feel, deep down inside. So what are we to do when the going gets tough and our natural ways of communicating—talking, analyzing, exploring our feelings—don’t work with our sons?
When Aristotle wrote that men find complete happiness and contentment when life leaves them nothing else to be desired, he was not talking about material possessions.2 He was talking about living with a sense of such deep satisfaction that nothing feels lacking. Not that video game, or that toy or those cupcakes. This is a contentment wherein the soul itself feels satisfied.