It Was So Worth It
My son is pretty much the same as he’s been since he’s been an adult. But for me, everything has changed. He is married now. I am so happy for him! For my husband and me, the wedding day was the culmination of everything we have tried to teach him since the day he was born. The day I envisioned, after hundreds of diaper changes and thousands of nose wipings, has finally arrived. I knew there was a reason I insisted on making him eat vegetables and clean his room.
In the midst of his childhood antics, I knew it would be worth our efforts to make him behave; to instill a sense of right and wrong in him; to help him understand what honor and integrity meant. I simply didn’t know why. Why was I putting myself through that? Wouldn’t it have been easier to simply let him do whatever he wanted to do and hope that his many experiments and escapades didn’t include the half gallon of ice cream I always kept for the really rough days? Why didn’t I just leave him to his own vices and not hound him with my rules? Wouldn’t that have been easier? I never could answer the question he always asked when I told him to clean his room. “Why?” he asked. “It’s only going to get dirty again.” I didn’t know the answer then. I probably answered with something lame like, “Because I said so!” Now, finally, I know why.
It was to mold the boy into a man worthy of the wonderful woman he has finally married. Lord knows, she will still need a lot of patience. Though I fought throughout my son’s teen years to limit his video gaming, he will still play from time to time. The difference I hope I made is that he will know enough not to say, “Just wait till I kill this guy!” when his wife goes into labor. Or, when someone asks him to stand up at their wedding, he won’t have better things to do. His priorities are straight. That’s what I was fighting for.
He may still wonder why he should keep things neat and clean, but at least he will tidy up just because she asks him to. He won’t need a reason other than the same one I gave him. After years of having to clear out moldy food from under his bed, he understands, now, why he shouldn’t throw peach pits behind the couch. He has grown into a man who cannot tolerate his younger brothers leaving drops on the toilet seat in his house. He patrols their tinkles scrupulously and God help them if they have misfired!
Of course, I wish he had worked the kinks out of this sense of cleanliness and good priorities while he lived with us, but I realize now I wasn’t teaching him those things for my benefit. I was teaching him for his future wife’s benefit. In fact, my husband and I have tried to teach our son everything we could so that the woman he fell in love with wouldn’t think he was a Neanderthal and flee in terror. When I danced with my son at his wedding he said, “Thanks, Mom. For everything.”
To the son I am so proud of and my wonderful new daughterin law: You’re welcome. It was definitely worth it.
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org