I can see why people think there's a special bond between mothers and their sons. (And between Dads and their daughters--but today is about the former).
My son, who is almost 6 (5 and 11/12ths according to him), can truly be the sweetest thing ever and a mom's best friend. Or at least best esteem-builder. (He can also be a hellion of epic proportions, but that's a whole 'nuther story).
While my husband wouldn't notice if I glamorized myself up the wazoo--or at least he probably wouldn't say anything about it (I'm not sure which is worse)--I can always count on my wee little son to notice. All I have to do is dress a little more nicely, don some earrings and a little makeup, and he is sure to notice and say something to the effect of "Mama, you look so pretty." This is unbidden, uncoached, and completely unself-conscious--I swear on my life. (Of course, it is also sometimes accompanied by a glare and the question "Are you going out tonight?") The amazing thing is that he started doing this around the age of 3. I thought for sure he'd grow out of it--and he may still, I suppose--without appropriate male modeling--which he most definitely does not get--but he hasn't. He always notices, always comments--a little breathlessly, which is charming in the extreme. And it just makes me feel so good--I have to be honest. What it means to my life that pretty much the only positive male reinforcement I get comes from my son is a matter perhaps best brought up in therapy. In any event--it's a different discussion.
Speaking of positive reinforcement, I make sure to give him plenty for his charming pronouncements. This is not so much in the hope that he will continue to compliment me, but rather in the hope that, one day down the line, he will be equally as aware, equally as free with a compliment with whomever he chooses to be with. There are few things as gratifying as being genuinely appreciated (not just for appearances, of course) by the ones you love.
I finally asked him yesterday, after he again told me how pretty I looked, where he learned how to say such nice things. He looked back at me, clearly puzzled, shrugged his shoulders, and said--"But you do look pretty." As if I were insane to ask. As if it was a patently obvious thing for him to say.
This openness and honest sweetness, free from the fear of baring emotions, is one of the things I love about children in general, and in particular, about my son. There can be a downside to all this emotion-baring, too. But today I prefer to focus on the good.
I'm going to end here. I think there's a little boy out there who could use a big hug.