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A daughter is a daughter all of her life, a son is a son until he takes a wife.

The first time I heard this phrase it was from my mother, herself a mum of two sons and three daughters. I would feel a little sad when she uttered these words. Is that how she felt about her happily married boys? Did she feel she had lost them to their wives? Isn’t that what was supposed to happen to a certain degree? If a mother has done her job well, surely she has taught her son to love and respect women and therefore ultimately his wife, beyond all others? Including herself? Even so, I imagined it must sting a little.

My husband and I were blessed to have a daughter and son. My daughter and I were best friends until that very difficult 13- to 16-year-old phase. Her dad had to put us in opposite corners of the room on more than one occasion. That phase soon passed and we became friends again. She went on to marry her high school sweetheart, a serious cliché that has been going strong for more than 15 years. Our relationship is beyond precious to me. She and her wonderful husband have given us two adorable granddaughters whom my husband and I spoil mercilessly. They live less than 10 minutes from us and we see them nearly daily.

I never went through a rough patch with my son, but rather the odd rough incident. I clearly remember a certain bonfire debacle. I won’t embarrass him by disclosing the details, but suffice it to say he wasn’t a perfect angel growing up. He was challenging; too smart for his own good. But somehow even as a youngster he “got” me. He understood and shared my particular lame sense of humor and could easily read my moods, more so than his dad sometimes. There is no doubt he knew exactly how to handle me. We could talk about anything. He was my buddy. He finished college and soon achieved his career goal, but it meant moving eight hours away.

Shortly after relocating, he met his wife-to-be and fell for her hard and fast. We fell in love with her too. Their courtship was quick, and before I knew it my son was a married man. I will selfishly admit I wasn’t quite prepared to be demoted so soon but was gratified to see how loving, protective and respectful he was with her.

Due to distance, we obviously don’t see them nearly as much as I’d prefer. But like clockwork I can count on a phone call from him every other day on his drive home, keeping me caught up on what’s going on in their busy lives.

I am no longer the No. 1 female in my son’s life. Nor should I be. I like to think that our close relationship had a lot to do with his becoming the amazing son, brother, uncle, husband and father-to-be that he is. He and my sweet daughter-in-law are expecting our third granddaughter soon.

And you know, at the end of our frequent whirlwind weekend visits together, my son gives me a back-breaking hug and a big old kiss, and I’m reminded that I was the first girl he loved … and it doesn’t sting at all.