Eggs column: more mothering for men

Why are men who "still live with mom" more despised than those who grab? Put an end to male role models.

Sometimes it sucks, sometimes you need it: The care of the mother Photo: dpa

Before I’ve even sipped my coffee, I get a text message. My mother informs me without a greeting that she went to bed with a bad feeling. Whether everything was all right. I’ve been thinking since then that I must have cancer or that I’m growing in a toenail, because my mother’s premonitions are legendary. So to avoid thinking about what bad things might happen to me, I quickly write a column about mothers. I owe it anyway, after picking on fathers in the last episode.

I’ve never understood why "mama’s boy" is an insult. The term indicates that there is a difficult relationship between men and their mothers. Has to give. At any rate, I have not yet heard of a "father’s daughter". And it’s true: The mother-specific habits that the rather limited gender construction kit has in store became a problem for me. The fiddling with my hair, the references to what a bundle of joy I was as a baby, and the constant concern for my well-being became tiresome.

"Why don’t you go to Mommy!" men would throw at each other, saying, "You can’t handle yourself without the care of other people (a woman, moreover!). Our society is built on repressing this embarrassing times-out-of-a-vulva-becoming and chopping the metaphysical umbilical cord at its best. For the mothers who are convinced that there is some magical connection since pregnancy, this is of course out of the question. What follows is eternal squabbling.

Care can become exploitation

Which is not to say that you shouldn’t emancipate yourself, and at some point … insert nest-bird metaphor here. Caring can turn into exploitation if you don’t stop bringing over the dirty laundry.

But it’s telling that the least recognized masculinity is not the one that grabs and hurts – but the one that "still lives with mom." The horror classic of film history, "Psycho," builds on our distrust of "mama’s boys." Not to mention the Oedipus complex.

It should be cool for men to allow and celebrate attention and affection from a parental figure. That doesn’t have to be a woman. But you know how it is with role models. Sure, our mothers knew us when we were goofy, awkward and vulnerable. We’d like to leave that out of the equation. But to cope with a bit of motherliness in one’s own masculinity is probably better than convincing oneself all one’s life that one can manage perfectly well on one’s own. The next step is, of course, to become a bit "motherly", i.e. caring, yourself.

Anyway, I answered the text message immediately and threatened my mother that I would punish the morning scare with a column. She didn’t mind.