My 13-year-old son (who seems to be going on 27, mind you) is smack-dab, right in the middle of full-on teenage mode. I miss the little guy that asked me to kiss his boo-boos, gave me morning, afternoon, and evening hugs, and thought his momma was pretty much the most remarkable person on planet Earth. Those were the days……
Now, he spends most of his time in his bedroom. He has nightly video and chat sessions with his friends. They play video games together. They talk about who-knows-what. Try as I might to gain an ounce of understanding into this new-found world of secrecy and teenage boy angst; he is a tight-lipped young man. I try not to pry, but I am his mother. I am curious….so obviously, I do pry. But it doesn’t get me very far. He opens up when he is ready to talk- not a second before that mysteriously magical teenage-boyhood appointed time.
Earlier this week, as I was going to bed, my son wandered into my bedroom and asked if he could talk to me privately. Trying very hard not to overwhelm him with my delight that he actually sought me out, I said, all chill and easy breezy: ‘Of course! What’s up?’ He proceeded to tell me that he was feeling a bit ‘third wheel-ish’ with his two best buddies. After a nearly two-week vacation with his Dad and stepmother’s family, I was not surprised he felt somewhat ‘out of the loop’ with his friends back home.
I told him it was completely normal to feel that way and that even at my ripe old age of 43 (hovering dangerously close to 44), I still feel like the third, fourth, or even fifth wheel more times than not. Unfortunately, this is nothing out of the ordinary in life. However, when you are 13 years old and experiencing these very real emotions for the first time, I know they can be confusing and feel like the absolute end of the world.
I provided my two cents. I listened to his feelings, and I validated them. But more than anything, I sincerely thanked him for coming to talk to me. It hurt my heart that my own flesh and blood’s precious heart was hurting, but I also felt so much relief and gratitude that he came to me. The fact that he chose to talk to me about a problem he was having and willingly shared his feelings with me made me want to jump for joy! This also taught me an important lesson. I try too hard to ‘always be there,’ oftentimes overstepping boundaries. I’m sure I’m breaking some major parenting rules that are written in stone somewhere in the original, ‘Teenage Handbook for Mothers.’
The moment I decided to step back and give him the space and privacy he needed, was the first notable time he actually sought me out for advice, encouragement, and likely just a listening ear, in a very long time. I will never not pry, ask, question, wonder, or make my presence as a mother completely over-the-top. But I do realize that this kid, whom I adore with every fiber of my being, will come to me when he can’t handle something on his own. That gives me a deep inner peace. And I hope and diligently pray it will always be that way between us.
During the times of silence, anger, and awkward teenage ‘stuff,’ knowing he still views me as one who can metaphorically kiss those boo-boos and wipe those invisible teenage tears swells my heart to an unimaginable size. This kid, like all kids, is going to encounter so much hurt, pain, and heartbreak in these pivotal years that it overwhelms my heart. While I want everything to be perfect for my teen boy, not to experience any struggles, trials, mistakes, or failures, I know that is simply not going to be the reality.
The struggles that come with the teenage and early adult years are often how we build skills and strength to manage and solve life’s later problems. Learning how to ‘hang in there’, or realize ‘this too shall pass’, or seek help when dealing with something you cannot handle on your own, these are the lessons I want, – no, I need, my baby-turned-young-man to learn.
As much as I hope I will always be there to listen, soothe, guide, and encourage, the fact is that I might not always be there. None of us knows what the future holds. And as a mother, my job is to teach my sons the ability to solve problems and empower them with the confidence to handle life’s difficulties the way my parents taught me. I will do that with the assurance of my unconditional love. Still, more importantly, I want them to seek assistance from the greatest physical, emotional, and spiritual physician ever to walk the face of this earth- Jesus.
I am so thankful my son sought me out on this random weekly evening. I pray he always knows he can come to me, no matter how big or small the issue. The fact that he reached out shows me that he has learned one very valuable lesson in this life. It is okay to ask for help. It is actually a sign of great maturity to seek counsel from someone you know who, beyond a shadow of a doubt, has your best interests in mind.
I may daily feel like I am losing the young toddler that adored his mother so much. But, seeing these milestone advances in his maturity and inching each day toward the man he is meant to be, that is a proud mack-truck of emotion I wasn’t quite prepared to feel. Every phase of motherhood is a new, exciting, fear-inducing, and at times, overwhelming adventure. However, it is. by far, the greatest adventure this momma (and likely the momma reading this) has ever known.