Watching boys grow into men

I am a mom of two boys.  I am mom to two boys who do not have their father around anymore to model what growing into a man involves.  I am a mom who, beyond words, loves being a mom of boys.

When my husband died, I knew that finding positive, male role models for my sons would be one of the most relevant things I would do for them.  My dad was there immediately for them.  He shared a bond with my boys – he too lost his dad at a young age.  He knew what it was like to grow up without a dad by your side.  He always was there for my boys.  He understood what I needed for my kids.  Unfortunately, he died a little over a year ago.

Also after Dave died, my brothers stepped up.  Both my brothers have families and struggles of their own.  I am always amazed how each of them in their own way take the time to make a significant difference in my boys’ lives.  Most of all, they are just themselves around my boys.  They are just decent men, walking through their own journey making sure they are present for my boys.  My youngest brother is a daily presence in their lives.  He has become a father figure to them.  He is honest, compassionate and always open to having them around…this is invaluable to them and to me.

My oldest son is 13 now.  He was six when his dad died.  Right before my eyes he is turning into a young man.  It is so amazing to watch.  He has surpassed me in height, which was a very proud moment for him, and is beginning to develop his character and integrity.

Yesterday, I was privileged to be present in a moment when my son advocated for himself.  He’s dealing with a struggle at school and I wasn’t aware of the depth of stress he was feeling.  After a short conversation with a teacher after school, he shared his stress with me.  We were in the car leaving school and his emotions came out as he shared his struggle with me.  His struggle was different than what we had just shared with the teacher.  During the short conversation, she asked my son if he had felt heard.  He nodded yes, but in the car it was obvious that he hadn’t felt heard.  We talked about it some more and I asked what he wanted to do and offered a few choices.  He decided he wanted to share more with the teacher we had just spoken with, so we went back.  She graciously gave us more of her time and my son shared the reasons he was struggling.  He spoke, not me.  He shared, not me.  He was honest and open with her…and even appropriate.  She was lovely and compassionate and said the right thing at the right time.  She listened carefully, gently gave guidance to him, and affirmed him and his feelings about the situation.  He left feeling relieved and confident that he could handle the situation and that it would be better.

My heart was filled with gratitude in those moments and even now as I write.  I am grateful for being able to present and witness as my son expressed himself.  I am grateful to belong to a school community that believes in the dignity of children.  I am grateful for a wonderful woman who took time to listen and be present to my son.  As a sole parent, it is so hard because I feel like my kids are shorted somehow because it is only my voice, my model, my character they see day in and day out.  Yesterday, I was reminded that this is not entirely true.  We are surrounded by people who try very hard to understand and who are willing to be there for my kids.  I’ve worked hard to make sure of this, but most days, I don’t really witness the fruits of this labor.

Watching my children become who they will be is one of the greatest privileges in my life.  In spite of the cards they were dealt, each of them still does their best each day.  Watching my boy take another step toward becoming a young man is one of those moments I will treasure.  Watching him advocate for himself with an adult, my heart was overcome with love and pride.

This journey we are on together, our journey of grief will be woven into every fabric of who they are.  Yesterday, I saw a glimpse of the man my son will become…a man who despite his struggles will advocate for himself in a positive way.  For today, this mom is very, very grateful.


7 thoughts on “Watching boys grow into men

  1. Candy says:

    That is so very precious. I could just picture you and your son sitting with that teacher and your son sharing from his heart as a young man. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Rob says:


    I can only tell you that if experience is a telling sign, your two sons are ahead of many and positive things await them. Their experience is similar to my father’s except that his father was not around because he chose not to be or if he did show up the abuses were ones that one would not want to experience and those things were not spoken of in the late 30s and early 40s. My dad had other men step up and be those role models that your sons are experiencing. They made huge differences in a man’s life. My dad (at 76) still recounts those men and the guidance, respect and love they showed him. Certain single actions (being asked to go to father /son banquets, hunting and fishing trips where what happened at hunting camp stayed at camp or his mom might not let him go again, showing up for a game when he was not expecting that, discussions on how to resolve certain conflicts, etc) he remembers as if they happened yesterday. They are so vividly etched in his memory because of the profound impact they had upon him.

    I tell my own boys that I will consider my self a success and a decent dad, if I can give and provide them what dad provided to me. He provided to us what he learned from those gracious, gentle,yet strong, men who stepped in (not because they had to but wanted to). Your sons will learn those same life lessons and are doing so right now. They themselves will be great men, fathers and husbands and they will remember with a unique fondness those that gave of themselves because they wanted to not because they had to.

    The true worth of a man is measured between Sundays and it sounds like your sons are winning at the game of life. They are lucky to have you more than anything because of your indiscriminate love for them and your strength.

    Apologies for the length of the response. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Jena says:

    Chris, I ran across your blog two days ago while searching for “grief” blogs. My husband passed away 3 mths. ago and I am the mother of two boys also. This most recent post from you touched my heart in so many ways. I love to read your warms my heart.


    • cmt says:

      Oh Jena – I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind words. Being a mom of boys has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. Hug your boys and please be gentle with yourself. Again, I am so, so sorry that your husband died. Chris

  4. Amy says:

    thank you for sharing this wonderful story. being a mother of boys is hard, but your love and compassion impacts them also. Lots of blessings. I am grateful, it gives my faith in the future and in our teachers and in life. hugs. amy

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