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21 Mothers and Sons in Pictures

photo credit: Jessica Ashley

I knew immediately when the doctor told me my due date that I would have a boy. All of my grandmother’s grandsons and great-grandsons were born within weeks in September, and that’s when my baby would arrive, too. People told me definitively for months that I would have a girl. But my instinct and my third-trimester dreams were right.

He was a surprise in the delivery room, but mostly for the spirit that filled every corner. None of us knew for sure he’d be a he, but there he was, dark waves of hair and bright, blinking eyes.

I’d always imagined myself as a mother of many girls. Once that boy was in my arms, once I whispered my hellos, there was no space left for any other vision of motherhood.

I’m the girliest of girly girls. Loving and raising this boy has taught me volumes that far exceed the number of pages in What to Expect — on Star Wars and funky smells and manhood and Lego and costumes and itty-bitty boxer briefs and how to make balls (yes, those balls) make sense to a small child.

All of that cannot be covered in all the books in the world. But much of it can be captured in one simple photograph. I asked mothers to send me their favorite photos with their sons and to tell me why that single sweet, silly, momentous or everyday snapshot means so much to them.

I will start with my own, a selves-portrait on the last day of our first really big trip alone, together. We were on a secluded beach in Hawaii, completely at ease, sunburned and happy. It soothes me every time I see that goggled grin.

Grab a hanky — either to wipe your tears or to prevent inhaling from the little-boy feet-stink sure to emanate from the mother-son photos that follow.

 


  • Hugs at Hilton Head 1 of 21
    Hugs at Hilton Head
    Lindsay Ferrier of Suburban Turmoil, shown here with her one son, says this about having a boy in a family full of girls: "He is our youngest and our only boy, and while I didn't know what on earth I was supposed to do with him when he was born. Now I can't imagine not having a son in my life. He is a total delight."
  • Full of silly 2 of 21
    Full of silly
    My sister-in-law Sharon Ashley offered up several photos she keeps to peek at on her phone, all of she and my huggy, pistol of a nearly three-year old, James. But this one says them best, full of funny.
  • Caught in between 3 of 21
    Caught in between
    This candid moment came in between all of the perfect poses with eyes wide open and smiles bright, says Sondra Santos Drahos. But this one, captured with Sondra and her oldest son, is her favorite of the two of them. And while she doesn't make a practice of post those pictures -- or moments -- online, her boy gave special permission to share this happy time.
  • Safe and sound 4 of 21
    Safe and sound
    Kristi Vitullo, a mom of six, including two sets of twins, shares this quiet moment with her boy. She says, "Here is one my all time favorite pics of me and my little man. When I see it, it makes me feel [good] that he feels so safe and comforted...no better place than in a mother's arms!!"
  • Besitos for boys 5 of 21
    Besitos for boys
    Cyndi Quiroz has two sons who are ten years apart. But you wouldn't know there was any age difference once the laughs start.

    "I am very affectionate woman," Cyndi explains, "so I love to hug and kiss my boys, and goof around and joke around with them. The oldest is 17 now, so his kisses and hugs are not as often as they used to be. The first pic was taken when we had chocolate fondue for dessert and started giving each other chocolate besitos! The second is when the oldest was about 3 and could still fit in my lap and let me cuddle him and give him as many besitos as I wanted. I think I could fit in his lap now! The last is with the youngest, who still doesn't mind kissing and hugging and cuddling! Good times. I love to see us laughing and loving!"
  • Perfectly imperfect 6 of 21
    Perfectly imperfect
    "I love this picture with my sons because we were having fun," says Lori Garcia, editor at GalTime and resident maternal BFF at Mommyfriend. "For perhaps the first time ever, I didn't care how my hair looked (obviously) or sitting up straight to take a perfect frame-worthy picture. It was about being in that moment filled with fun and gratitude."
  • Not so serious 7 of 21
    Not so serious
    One critical component of being The Happiest Mom? Finding time to get a little crazehhh with your kids. Even the teenaged ones. Meagan Francis shows off exactly that, noting, "This is me goofing around with my 15-year-old son, Jacob."
  • Her best boy 8 of 21
    Her best boy
    Monica Bielanko of The Girl Who calls him "Hank the Tank" and "sharp as a tack" and "full of focus and intrigue."
  • On the other side of the camera 9 of 21
    On the other side of the camera
    "I'm usually the one behind the lens -- ANY photograph of me with all three of my boys is special," explains Kyran Pittman, author of the book and blogPlanting Dandelions. "This was taken when we went ice- skating for my last birthday. I had a pass to do whatever I wanted, but there's no one I would rather celebrate my life with than these guys."
  • Playing hooky 10 of 21
    Playing hooky
    Amy Sneed Heinz of Using Our Words calls herself "the girl next door." But she's also a mama who is full of surprises, and one big one is captured here with her son, who she calls...yep, Big.

    "Last spring, Big and I played hooky for his friend's birthday and flew to Disneyland at 6am and home at 8pm. It was his first time there and I loved being able to be a spoil-you-rotten mom of one for the day," and I like to say she said that with a sneaky wink.
  • Happy captured 11 of 21
    Happy captured
    "My boy has always enthusiastically smooched and hugged me," Melissa Summers says of son, Max. "I remember being at home with him before he started school. It's nice to see a picture of me looking genuinely happy to be hanging out with him. Sometimes, I felt so overwhelmed by all the hours to fill and things I 'needed' to get done. He wanted to take this picture together, and it reminds me that I didn't always feel impatient. That I did embrace those moments sometimes." 
  • Little sidekick 12 of 21
    Little sidekick
    "To me, this picture completely represents what a delightfully agreeable kid I was blessed with," says Whitney Moss of Rookie Moms of her "sidekick" son.
  • Rough and tumble 13 of 21
    Rough and tumble
    Katie DeWees grew up in the land of 4-H and haystacks and long stretches of land. She embraces all the best and messiest and most fun parts of play, and that shows here with her boys, Jay and Josh.
  • Brighter than the sun 14 of 21
    Brighter than the sun
    Maggie May EtheridgeFlux Capacitor holds this sun-filled photo close. She's pictured with "my Dakota", age 15, on a family trip to the desert.
  • The first time 15 of 21
    The first time
    "We are a north-side Chicago family and we are Cubs fans," says wedding planner and mama Laura Patterson told me about this shot with her toddler. "This was Micah's first game.  He was 10- months old.  And this was my first time sitting in the bleachers!  It was an unusually warm April day and we were baking in the direct sunlight. Micah only made it one or two innings before he went home for a nap. His first game but certainly not his last."  
  • In the moment 16 of 21
    In the moment
    Chicagonista'sMJ Tam is out on the town often for business. But she snapped this quick pic of her favorite boys on a quiet night at home.
  • The calm 17 of 21
    The calm
    Motherhood is still pretty fresh for Heidi Jones. She cherishes this mother-son moment from the early days with now-toddler Aaron.

    "This picture is special because this was one of many days we spent at our favorite park together during my maternity leave," she recalls. "We were both so happy and relaxed when we were there."
  • Fresh start 18 of 21
    Fresh start
    The road to pregnancy and then through pregnancy and then into delivery was challenging for DeAnn. But on the the other side of labor, came an overwhelming love.

    "We ended with an emergency C-section, at which point I finally got to see the most beautiful face I have ever seen," she remembers.

    The came the PTSD and separation from her husband. "It has been tough adjusting," DeAnn says, "but he is healthier and happier where he is and I am happier than I have ever been." This photo shows the newly single mom on the first big solo outing with her son. "I view that day as a turn -around for me between coping and living again. I also cherish the picture of the two of us together, happy."
  • Wild ride 19 of 21
    Wild ride
    Mary Soeding's favorite photos of she and the son she calls "The Duck" include this one, taken at a carnival when he was in preschool. "I crammed into that top coaster seat, and the scratched knee and sore neck were so worth it because the screams of joy from that duck are forever in my heart," Mary says.
  • While waiting 20 of 21
    While waiting
    Bridget Mork's boy is nine. "Cullen is the light of my life. He's the most thoughtful kid ever," she describes. And here? "We were sitting in the car waiting for Daddy to stop yapping with a friend."
  • With baby bird 21 of 21
    With baby bird
    Oh, my. Single mama Kristi Anderson offers the provenance of this picture with eloquence and sweetness.

    "When we moved into our farmhouse, I bought a metal wall sculpture of a mama and baby bird to signify the event. I look at this photo and see that same mama and baby -- an organic blend of protection and vulnerability. I snapped this while riding the holiday kiddie train in the mall. I'm admiring the extravagant lights, and my son is nestled inward to avoid the crowds skimming the train's sides. This is the stuff of single mamahood, no? What a small wonder, this split-second sliver of daily life: Sheltering my small son, yet ever looking outward and upward with hope and a smile. Just the two of us, mama and baby bird, nestled into our makeshift train-car nest while life's happy chaos swirls around us."

 

Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.

Meet up on Twitter. 

Ogle shoes together on Pinterest.

 

Read more of Sassafrass Says So Here:

Video: Top Mama-Kid Car Jams 2012

One-Der Woman: One Quick Tip to Feel Fabulous on a Night Out

Familymoons: Should Kids Go On the Honeymoon?

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