I’ve had an uncomfortable couple of weeks. I’ve struggled with wanting to write about it because how I feel keeps shifting. My eldest turned 17 and in that my recognition of my role in all of my boys lives has changed. I am no longer the loudest voice in my teenager’s head, next to his own. I am no longer wanted for intimate conversations, even at bedtime, and pillow talk will slowly be handed over to the female of his dreams. This is normal, and to be expected based on all the stories one hears. But I really didn’t see it coming. Is that stupid?
It’s not so much rejection or sadness I feel, but more not wanting to accept the new reality. Friends with older boys say they all come round again; that their quest right now for independence and privacy allows the space they need from you in order to return to your relationship as a man. I don’t know. I’m only on this side of the journey of discovery and as with every other ‘first’ in my years as a mom, my eldest going through something is my first time too, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
I drop him off at Union Train Station downtown – yes, LA has a central AMTRAK train station that is pretty gorgeous – and realize he has not only not complained about going on a school trip (oh, the times before:), but also is looking forward to it. These small moments of recognition of growth I have become accustomed to, however many the tears still do fall. But it’s the greater jump, the manly one, I am struggling to wrap my head around.
It is healthy and right for boys to emotionally detach and my rule so far is if you do it with respect, then off you go. The lines are blurry right now – I keep reflecting on what I did as a teenager and what I needed and wanted from my parents. Need? Probably total independence to make my own decisions about every aspect of my life; want – for my parents to allow me to do whatever I wanted. So with that, I parent my boys, wavering between being hypocritical and realistic in saying yes or no. Safety first, but then after that it gets really confusing on where to draw the line.
What has been a huge source of comfort is all the conversations I’ve had with other moms going through much of the same stuff. I’ve realized we are all in this together – that however personal my issues feel, they are not unique. And sharing enables me to hear a new idea or perspective on how to deal with raising teenagers. Frankly, and I’ve said this for 17 years; it’s other moms’ stories, more than books or doctors or the internet that have guided me throughout motherhood and I’m eternally grateful each time.
All my boys are full of sweetness. I am proud of that. That was there from the get-go. If I added anything it’s the rough map of how to be kind, and how to feel successful by your own actions. I can only hope that the foundations are laid and that if they all need to explore a private emotional path in order to return again as young men, then I have to find a way to let them go and not let my heart break every time. They are doing what they should be doing; it’s their mother who needs the guidance this time.
In the words of Husband…’Don’t take it all so personally, I don’t’. Touche.