My Father's Son

Raising a man is probably one of the most challenging endeavors a female will have to face. And if you are a single mother, well…finding a needle in a haystack in the dark is probably easier.

My eldest boy at 3 months old
To me, being a parent is God giving you another opportunity to impact the world positively. Parents are given a human to nurture into an adult who will influence everyone around them. That’s a huge undertaking. And if you are a mother with a child of the opposite sex (or a father with the same circumstances), you are faced with trying to figure out how to raise a human that has different body parts, a different way of thinking and a completely different role in society. 
God bless those women that have a man in their son’s lives that have and take equal responsibility for the person they both created. God bless those women who have a decent father of their own that they can use as an example of what a man is supposed to be. But what if you have neither? Then what?

The golden rule stands at the core of what I teach my children. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I figure this is a sure way to keep them on the straight and narrow. Let’s face it; humans are naturally selfish creatures. So if you base how you treat others on how you would like to be treated, there’s little room for error. For some reason this clicks with my son as effectively as a light switch with a busted light bulb. 

Understanding the male psyche is a challenge for me. People say women are complicated. Well, it seems men are complicated also; just in a different way. 

Case in point. My offspring share the responsibility of cleaning the kitchen. How to allocate that responsibility took its own set of trial and error, but I basically got it down to each person having their own night to clean the kitchen according to a list of chores in the kitchen. 
My two girls are pretty okay with this list, but my son; he makes every excuse he can, not to complete it! I tell him to set water; he doesn’t. I tell him to sweep the floor; with distain, using the broom, he moves what he sees with his naked eye into the dustpan. And now that I’ve included a penalty for not completing the list, he spends more time trying to figure out how to penalize his sister than he does making sure he doesn’t get penalized himself! 


My youngest, who is a momma's boy, listening to music.
This kid has got me pulling my hair out, biting my nails, tossing and turning at night and losing my appetite. You would think he was my significant other he takes up so much time in my day. 
I find myself wondering is it him? Meaning: is it because he is my father’s son, my brother, my son and my father’s grandson that makes him so challenging? 

Because of my family’s circumstances, I lost my first man child to the system when he was only five months old. I didn’t get the opportunity to bond with him like I did with my other children. I wasn’t able to breastfeed him, be there for his first steps, or have the honor of listening to him pronounce his first word. When I got him back I had to consciously put in effort effort to make up for lost time. Though I watched in envy as he ran to my grandmother for consolation if he bumped his knee, I had to keep reminding myself that the sweet rewards of being a mother was little sacrifice for my and my children’s freedom and reunification. Therefore, I made it my business to be involved with my son on another level. 
So why after putting so much effort into spending time with him as he grew up, does he act like I “just don’t get it”? Sometimes I feel like that in this kid’s head I am his mortal enemy. In his eyes I never seem to do enough, am fair enough, give him enough, consider him enough or understand him enough. 
Don’t get me wrong, I know he loves me. But I can’t help but wonder if because he knows that he is my father's son, in his mind I am less his mother. 
I have faced the actuality that I may never know the answer to this inquiry, so I have to interact with my son while ignoring the facts that glare over me like the sun's blinding rays on a winter morning. Which means that every time I have to reprimand, lecture or discipline my son, I must pull out my mental sunglasses and engage him in a way that’s as cool as the way my blue reflective Ray Bans make me look. But when I tell you that this kid pulls out all the stops to make me feel like I’m just a bad parent…(sigh, where are my shades?).
I listen to what he has to say when he accuses me of treating him differently because he’s a boy. I bite my tongue when his logic makes as much sense as burying your head in a garbage can for fresh air. And I regain control (yes regain, because the struggle to keep my voice down is real) of the pitches and volume of my voice when I know his attempts at manipulating and outsmarting me drives me so cray I just want to SCREAM!!
But, I love him. I love my son dearly, and I am thankful for the opportunity that God gave me to raise a beautiful, talented, charismatic man that will contribute great things to the world. And I realize that my predicament is no different form all the other single mothers of young men. Boys challenge us because they are trying to establish themselves as men. From testosterone raging through their systems, to societal pressures and demands made on them dictating that they are the dominant sex, the position of the mother of a developing man is a challenging one. 

Usually after my son blows up because he feels I’ve disputed his manhood by taking away his cell phone or video games, I have to give him his space. I used to try to confine him, punish him further or display my power over him in some sort of fashion, but that just wasn’t working. One summer I had to literally get in my car to chase him down the street. But now, I lay the law (because he has to follow the rules, male or not) and I give him his space. He calms down, and after being mad at me for a little while, he comes around. I don’t take it personally anymore. I used to take it so personal when he’d disobey me in the middle of me disciplining him, but I understand that he is coming into his own and trying to establish his machismo. When I show him I understand his perspective, and I take into consideration when making my decisions on him, he is more receptive. 

We are a work in progress and we have progressed. Now if only I can just get him to stop sleeping in the living room and spreading his man funk around the house. 

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