MOM U R L33T!!1!!one!!
November 9, 2007 5:16 PM   Subscribe

How do I make sure I'm the absolute best son I can be?

I've got a fantastic mom who's really been through the ringer for a good chunk of her life. We have a great and really close relationship, but I constantly worry that nothing I do really comes close to being equal to the fires she's walked through for me.

Basic info is I'm in my mid-30's, married to someone she loves, and have three kids that she adores.

I stay in touch constantly in many different ways, remember birthdays and other important anniversaries, make sure we visit, keep her involved in personal things going through my head, and work to be someone she can be proud of.

What deep things might I be missing? What fun and flighty but memorable things could I do once in a while?
posted by TheManChild2000 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you're already a great son. Just keep doing what you're doing, and don't "constantly worry" (your words) about it.
posted by amyms at 5:20 PM on November 9, 2007

I agree with amyms, that you are even thinking about this probably indicates that it's not something to worry about.

But if you are looking for nice things to do; take her out to dinner, put together a video of her grandkids on DVD, take her on a vacation with the wife and kids...

Stuff like that.

And call her and ask for advice now and again. I know my mom loves that.
posted by quin at 5:35 PM on November 9, 2007

It does sound like you're doing a great job. I would guess she would tell you that the best gift you could give her would be to be to your children what she's been to you. However, I understand the desire to do something for her, and to have fun together. Off the top, my suggestions would be: go visit her alone some time. Obviously she loves your wife and kids, and loves seeing them, but it would have to be nice to have you to herself every once in a while. Plus, it will give you the freedom to focus just on her while you're there. We finally talked my dad into going to visit my grandma alone sometimes, and he loves doing it. Instead of a big production getting the whole family in the car and driving 2 days there and 2 days back, he hops on a plane with a carry-on and crashes on her couch for a couple of nights. They have a great time.
Also, is there anywhere she'd like to travel that you'd be in a position to make happen? My parents, sister, and I went to Italy together last summer -- my parents knew it was likely one of the last vacations we'd have together as our original family grouping. It was so much fun, and created memories that I will always treasure. I had been to Italy alone before, but sharing it with them was even better.
Do whatever you can to make sure she's comfortable -- living in a good situation, getting whatever medical care she needs, down to small conveniences/luxuries like a good cordless phone or a membership at a massage place.
Hopefully it's a long, long way off, but make sure you know what she wants to happen when her health declines. My father insists he wants us to take him out back and shoot him if his mind ever starts going; his mother would similarly want to be put in a nursing home and not have anyone come visit her if that happened to her. On the other hand, my aunt promised my grandpa before his death that they would never, ever put Grandma in a nursing home, no matter what -- he just couldn't bear the thought of her being in one of those places. People have very strong, and sometimes surprising, feelings about their late in life/end of life care. Knowing what your mother wants would be a good preparation for the future.
posted by katemonster at 5:36 PM on November 9, 2007

Three grandkids and a daughter-in-law she loves?

Give me a break-- you're going to have to do something bad just so she knows she hasn't died and gone to heaven yet.
posted by jamjam at 5:37 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Moms walk through fires so that you don't have to. Stop worrying and be happy. Love your wife, be a good father and an honest, caring person. Tell your mom you love her and that she has helped you become a good person. The rest is commentary.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:39 PM on November 9, 2007

Do some "big" things for her, that build lifetime memories, as you can. For example, all through my years growing up, my Mother talked about all the trips she'd like to take when she retired. Through saving a lot of frequent flier miles, money, favors and coupons, I was able to send her and my Father for "dream" vacations to NYC, San Francisco, Hawaii and Europe, which they talked about constantly the rest of their lives, to anyone who would listen.

Travel may not be your Mom's "thing," although it was for my Mom. You'll have to figure out what's on your Mom's "life list," and do what you can to help her cross off a few of the top items. Maybe she always wanted to sky dive, or meet Jane Fonda, or be a star. Most people have some "experiential" ambitions that remain unfulfilled, simply because they don't see a way to accomplish the dream. Help them accomplish such a thing, and you give them something to remember, that continues to shape their life and their sense of self, until memory itself fades away.

I must have looked at their Hawaii photo album with my folks 20 times, and still, even now that they're gone, they smile at me from those dog eared album pages, as happy as ever I saw them in life.
posted by paulsc at 6:08 PM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

Handwrite her a letter (not a card, a letter) telling her exactly what you told us. Tell her that you hope you can be as good of a parent to your kids as she has been to you. Thank her for teaching you to be the man/husband/person you are today. Do you have siblings? Can you all put together some sort of book of anecdotes about your Mom?

Echoing katemonster, you don't mention whether or not your Dad is in the picture. But since you didn't, I suspect your Mom's a single parent. If you're in the position financially-speaking, make sure she has some sort of retirement savings well in place. If not, see about finding somebody appropriate for her to talk to. It might be difficult, but you may also want to broach the subject of living wills, power of attorney, estate planning, etc. Nobody wants to deal with it, but if you paint it in the light of wanting to take care of her the way she's taken care of you, it may be easier (assuming it's not already something she's put in place).
posted by dancinglamb at 6:12 PM on November 9, 2007

gosh, sounds like you're doing everything right.

remember, you don't have to "pay back" your mom for all the things she sacrificed for you--that's not why she did it. best thing you can do is pass those lessons on to your kids, and let your mom know that you're doing it because of her.

also, make sure the kids write her thank-you notes and stuff. that'll mean a ton to her.

one thing you might do, if she's getting older, is sitting down with her and talking about those uncomfortable things, like what she'd want to do if she started to have trouble taking care of herself or living alone. it's a grim subject, but knowing her wishes before something happens will give you both huge peace of mind.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:15 PM on November 9, 2007

The best thing you could possibly do is exactly what you're doing. Stop worrying, bro. It's time wasted. You're doing fine, it sounds like.
posted by thewalrusispaul at 6:16 PM on November 9, 2007

Eponysterical? Are you a robot built specifically to make moms happy?

Take a break, don't forget to plug yourself in at night, and keep doing what you're doing. It sounds like you're doing a fine job.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:27 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Are you the only child of a single mother? That can leave you feeling extra-super responsible for her throughout your life, as consciously or unconsciously she may have given you the feeling that you were the sun, moon and stars of her life.

As it is, it sounds like you are already being a great son to her. Some of the previous posters had some great suggestions - a special vacation, a session with a financial planner and so on. Also, allow her to dote on her grandkids to her heart's content. Spending time with her as a family is probably the most wonderful thing you can do - family is priceless.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:30 PM on November 9, 2007


If my kids turn out as well as you have, I will die a happy woman.
posted by rdc at 6:56 PM on November 9, 2007

I constantly worry that nothing I do really comes close to being equal to the fires she's walked through for me.

Nothing you do ever will. Since you say your a father of three, I'm guessing this is a blind spot for parents, which is good for me, I guess.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:54 PM on November 9, 2007

Looks like you're already a pretty good son.

What fun and flighty but memorable things could I do once in a while?

Find out who her favourite band is, and trying scoring some tickets to one of their concerts, if she's interested in music at all.
Try and take her on a vacation to that dream holiday spot she's always been planning to go to since eternity, but never got around to.
Get her an all expense paid spa treatment for a day, where she can be totally pampered. Hell, why don't you BOTH make a day of it, and do some bonding as well.
posted by hadjiboy at 9:29 PM on November 9, 2007

My mom died after a long time being sick, and what I'm still most grateful I had a chance to do was to say thank you. For everything I accomplished, she was a huge part of making me feel I could pull it off. I was lucky to have the time to say that to her as clearly as I could. I always got the definite idea that when I accomplished something that was difficult as all hell and rewarding, it meant doubly to her what it ever could to me. So that's my idea: thank you, thank you, thank you, I love you.
posted by lauranesson at 9:50 PM on November 9, 2007

I would say include her in your family vacations or day trips. The whole family goes to petting zoo, etc? And then maybe brag books about the day.
That's what my mom would dig.

Plus the sweet note telling how grateful you are...
posted by beccaj at 10:40 PM on November 9, 2007

Basic info is I'm in my mid-30's, married to someone she loves, and have three kids that she adores.

So you managed to keep yourself alive as an adult, you made a good choice for a life partner in her eyes, and you gave her excellent grandchildren.

Sounds like you did better than most. It also sounds like you actively recognize her role in you having gotten this far. Have you ever sat her down and told her how grateful you are?

Also: if you really want to be a great son, adjust your life plans to ensure that you can get her proper care when she's older, whether that care comes from in-home providers, living with you, or a top-quality nursing home. The time that you will truly be able to repay her is when you walk through fires to take care of her when she cannot take care of herself.
posted by davejay at 10:50 PM on November 9, 2007

If there was any valuable, or semi-valuable object that you broke as a kid, then buy her a new one now that you're all grown-up.

Apart from that, the most a loving mom wants is just love. Call her and write to her. That might not seem like much, but it will mean the world to her.
posted by giggleknickers at 6:53 AM on November 10, 2007

There's a lot of great stuff here, and not just the comments telling me how completely awesome I apparently am. Thanks, all... best answer assignations coming soon.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 7:10 AM on November 17, 2007

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