Mothers Always No. 1

Many men are competitive in much of what we do. But most of us have become resigned to finishing second-place in the greatest endeavor of life, parenting.

Think about it. One stereotype of tough guys is that many of them have tatoos reading, “Mother.” Ever seen one that paid tribute to “Dad”?

Or consider the situations about which some of us have read, of soldiers wounded badly on the battlefield. Not infrequently, they cry out for their mothers. Never fathers.

I’d hoped long, intensive practice would have helped me in that regard, when the grandchildren came along.

Nope. They never, ever ask if they can go home with granddad. It’s always, “Can we go to Grammy’s house?”

We all know how and why this occurs: Women cheat. Before dads even get a shot at bonding, mom has had nine months or so alone with each of her children. Men find ourselves always playing catch-up.

They keep it up for years. While we men are trying to teach our sons and daughters how to do the physical things, moms hover nearby, waiting to pounce. Consider, for example, what happens when we attempt to clue the kids in to skills needed to play basketball:

Typical comment from dad when junior falls and scrapes his knee: “Now, let me show you what you did wrong. You should have pivoted on your right foot.”

And we expect that to compete with, “Oh, you poor dear! Let me kiss it and make it all better.”

It gets no better when our little angels have become teenagers and are ready for that first big date, using the family car.

Dads give their sons this advice: “Don’t you dare wreck the car or bring it home with the fuel tank empty. And do you have enough money for tonight?”

Moms, knowing they’ve beaten us once again, spend an hour or so making certain Junior is as handsome as possible, then assure him he is.

Strangely enough, it’s roughly the same with girls.

Dad: “Now, sweety, if that boy drives too fast, you tell him to pull over, then you call me. And here’s a little cash in case he runs short.”

Mom: “You just look beautiful, dear.”

Something else rather strange about those first few dates for girls is how moms and dads differ in warning them about, well, teenaged boys who become too aggressive.

I always favored the strategy of telling the daughters that if that little creep did anything untoward, I would tear his ears off and feed them to him.

Moms, on the other hand, favor the, “I’m sure he’ll be a perfect gentleman,” line. It may be the look in their eyes, spotted by the young man, that does the trick: “Look, you little creep, if you try any funny business, I will tear your ears off and feed them to you.”

There is something about that mothers’ instinct. Kids seem to sense that if they need protection, dad the martial arts fanatic who has a concealed carry permit isn’t going to be nearly as fearsome as your typical mom.

So yes, we dads and granddads are resigned to it. We’re always going to be second-place, behind moms and grandmothers.

Our little secret is that we rely on them, too.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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