I didn't know true love until I became a mother. I didn't know true fear until I became a mother to a teenager.
Teenagers. This has got to be the toughest part of motherhood. Midnight feedings, spit up on every outfit I own, and colicky babies don’t have anything on a hormonal teenager. For some reason, before Jacob (now 18) hit puberty, I was under this delusion that teenage girls were the difficult ones. Ha! I can only laugh my complete and utter ignorance. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great kid; decent grades, athletic (he’s a total jock), stays away from trouble… So what makes these years so trying? I’m going to hate myself for saying this (and even more for writing it), but here goes. There is no longer control over the major aspects of his life. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? But think about it, when our kids are small, they can only go where WE say they can go. They can only do what WE say they can do. They need our permission for everything! We get to assess a situation, and decide if it will be safe enough for them to participate. Now that Jacob is 18, the time has come to let go and trust that I’ve given him enough guidance for him to make his own choices. All I can do is hope and pray that he makes the best ones. I find myself bombarding him with nuggets of wisdom and warnings during most of our conversations – to which I’m sure he’s rolling his eyes, but still manages to squeeze out an occasional “Yeeees, mom”. WTH?! It all happened so fast that I’m now scrambling to tell him everything I know about being an adult! And you know that motherly instinct? Well, I’m beginning to suspect that my own mother was right in saying that it never goes away! My urge to protect him is just as strong now as when it was when he was in diapers! When they’re small, you want to protect them from scrapes, bruises, bumble bees, and mean kids at school. When they’re teenagers, the threats become more tangible – and can (at times) have life-long consequences. Relationships, broken hearts, negative friends, drugs, alcohol, sex. The list goes on and on. I often ask myself, “Did I teach him enough?” At times, I feel like I’ve somehow shortchanged him due to my own lack of knowledge on the “ways of the world”. Being a mother at the age of 17 was by no means easy, but I’ve always only thought of it from my own prospective. How hard it was on me. How I gave up my youth. It’s only now that I’m understanding the repercussions that my youth had on him. Without real life experience, is it possible that I could’ve taught him all that he needed to know in order to succeed in this world?? Probably not. I guess the key is to just keep talking to him. I’m lucky in that he seems pretty open with me. Actually, I’m now seeing a shift in our relationship, and it appears that there are very few things he won’t speak to me about. Life, girls, peer pressure, they all seem to be open in terms of topics of discussion between us. And I guess my being a mere 17 years older then him makes it easier for me to be frank and honest with him. About all of those things. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be his “friend” per say. That label doesn’t sit right with me when it comes to my kids. I think there should be a distinct difference between his “friends” and me. You can’t always trust friends when it comes to real life issues. What I want is to be his constant source of reason. The voice that will always point him in the right direction – without bias – and with complete honesty, love, and compassion. Letting go of him as a child isn’t easy, but I know it’s necessary. I now look at Justin, who’s recently turned 13, and I start to feel like I may actually know a thing or two…but then again…4