Publisher’s Corner: Mama’s Boy

I called my grandson Jackson a Mama’s Boy the other day. I was playing like I was a Zombie and he got scared and ran to his mama. He loves to play Zombie but likes to know his mother is nearby. I realized I had paid him a giant compliment. Truth is any boy who can’t use his mama as a safe place is doomed to be met with all sorts of monsters in his life. My mother Mary Ann was my monster protector. I watched all the monster movies growing up. Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc. I couldn’t get enough of them. Even in my dreams. So nightmares were common. Monsters chasing me and suddenly I couldn’t run. My feet were stuck in mud. My legs paralyzed. I was monster meat. Then the next thing I knew, I was in my Mom and Dad’s bed hugging my mama. My mother taught me many things that didn’t have to do with sports. I had a dad and brother for that. Mom’s are good at connecting those early emotional dots with young boys. We are taught to be gentle with babies, pets and girls. This will in-turn make us better men. My mother nurtured the artist and writer in me. She could see that sports meant a lot to me but she wanted me to be well-rounded so she showed me her letters and poems. She taught me how to cook. And sing old broadway tunes while we baked. I didn’t really like the Lawrence Welk Show, but she and my grandmother did so I watched it with them. I had some great women in my life. What they didn’t try to teach me, I learned from by example. Good and bad. My mother was somewhat judgmental, like her mother my Nana. They were both products of a generation that everything had it’s place and time. No square pegs in round holes. Until I came along. My grandmother struggled with my Hippie Years. But my mother found an interest in my social rebellion. I think now that she was always a rebel herself but could not break out of the round peg test. And like so many others who have to fight with their inner voices, she struggled with anxiety, depression and alcohol. And yet, everyone loved Mary Ann. My friends, my brother’s friends, my sister’s friends. She was the best-loved mom of them all. Because she understood better than most moms how hard it is to be pegged something you’re not. I was a mama’s boy like my grandson is a mama’s boy. Never afraid to come for a cuddle. There is no peg test in your mother’s arms. No monsters. Just a safe place to rest and be reassured. Then off to take on the world again. My mother might have felt like she failed in some way to connect with her inner child, but she did not fail to connect with her children. We all learned from our mother how much pain a person can be in and still share love unconditionally. My mother was a staunch Republican and a Goldwater Girl. Every peg in it’s place back then. Today she would be a social liberal I am sure. Out of tradition she might still be a Republican. Tradition meant a lot to her. And she passed that down to all of us. We are always trying to replicate macaroni and cheese and potato salad like mom used to make. It is a litmus test for our own “Iron Chef” competition. Who can make Aunt Mary’s Carmel Sticky Buns just like she did for Christmas Morning? That’s still a tough challenge. Jury is still out. I am a mama’s boy through and through and I am glad my grandson is, too. Keep up the great work all you mamas out there. All of us kids with monsters in our lives are counting on you for a soothing hug. Whether it be at home or from heaven.

Happy Mother’s Day, J.B. Lester