still my kid

I'm Not Sorry For Babying My Grown Son

I always remind him about one thing, though.

From a mom: I am not sorry for babying my son.
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My oldest son is almost 20 — basically a grown man, one who works a physically demanding job, but one who lives with me. And I’ll admit that I do a lot for him. He works late a few nights a week and when he does, I make sure there’s a warm dinner waiting for him and sometimes I rub his feet when he’s exhausted and they hurt. I pack him leftovers for lunch when it makes sense and make his favorite dessert when he asks for it. I do his laundry.

I know he can do these things himself, but I do them for him, willingly. The older and more independent my kids are, the less I get to do for them and it makes me happy to make them nourishing meals and bring them comfort after a long day.

I know not everybody will approve, though. I’ve heard some people say that if a mother babies her son too much she’s creating a nightmare for their future partner because they’ll expect the same treatment. No one likes a “mama's boy” and you could potentially be doing damage by “spoiling your son.”

First, it’s 2023 and we need to stop blaming a woman for the way a man acts. An adult man is responsible for his own actions. And this is still my kid; just because they grow up doesn’t mean your mom instincts switch off.

But most importantly, as far as I’m concerned, it’s all good as long as I do one very important thing: Remind him that I do these things for him because I am his mother and he shouldn’t expect them from a future partner.

We were talking about this the other night while I was making him his favorite (peanut butter pie). I was tired from a long day myself, but I appreciated that when he came home after his long day of work, he picked up the yard and did some spring clean up. And so I gave him a little positive reinforcement: “I do these things for you because you are my son and I like doing them. But the fact you did the yard because you knew I wanted it done — even after a long day — shows you know what it’s like to have a partnership.”

He nodded his head, clearly humoring me, and said, “Yes, I know what you’re going to say next: ‘Don’t expect your girlfriend to always make your food, do your laundry, and rub your feet just because you do it for me.’”

He’s heard it a lot and gets annoyed with me but I don’t care. I’ll keep reminding him because the last thing I want to do is raise a son who tells his partner they should do something for him because he grew up having his mother do it.

I do think it’s a good idea to remind them just because we have unconditional love and do certain things for them, that doesn’t mean they should expect it from their future partner. The relationship between a mother and son, and a man and his partner have a lot of differences.

So to all the haters — and I know there will be some — I’m doing what works for me and my kid.

Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.