What is it about mothers and sons, or sons and their mothers? A steadfast, unspoken, pervasive bond between two people, almost palpable in its honesty. I noticed it more in the last two or three years of my mother-in-law’s life. She would come to visit while en route to and from the East Coast. She would spend two to three weeks at a time visiting us. By then, our daughter had gone to college and there were just three of us at home, plus the dog.
I watched my husband treat her almost reverently, sometimes gently scold her for her antiquated beliefs about her health or her stubborn vanity. He brought home her favorite dishes, always making sure she did not over-indulge herself at the dinner table for fear it would cause a sleepless night of indigestion.
It was a mutual admiration society. I would hear my mother-in-law admire her son for his graying temples and how distinguished he was beginning to look. How clothes always hung so elegantly on his shoulders, no matter what he wore—in a suit and tie or shorts and t-shirt.
Over time, as I would observe these exchanges, I began to want my husband to spend this special time with her, unencumbered by my interruptions or participations. Somehow, I felt it was something I needed to make allowances for, this special time with his mother. After all, I knew that she did not have the luxury of many years anymore.
And so it came to the time when he had to travel the thousands of miles to help her with her transition to the world beyond. She had wished for an easy passing. One with her dignity intact, her poise maintained, sans pain or distress. He dutifully stayed by her side and assisted her in her passage. In the end, I knew that he needed this special journey with her, not just for her sake but more importantly, for his satisfaction and self assurance.
To all the women out there who misunderstand this, do heed this simple advise: One should never try to compete, interfere, or tangle with a mother-son alliance. It would be futile and inappropriate. A waste of your time. Theirs is a bond greater than you or your marriage because it goes all the way to the deep crevices within the womb. And it would be a cruel and fruitless endeavor to make a son choose between the two loves of his life. No one wins. Not you. Not him.