The day my son turned 15, I was overcome by fear and anxiety. An impending doom like a little, black, raincloud hung over my head as I wondered . . . will he be like me as a teenager?
The year that led up to his 15th birthday, I rewatched Dawson’s Creek. Perhaps that’s where I went wrong. I binge-watched the ’90s teen drama of these TV characters who grew up alongside me, but this time through the eyes of an adult—a mom—and not the eyes of a teenager. Episode after episode features teens talking about sex, having sex, drinking, and fighting, amongst other things.
And I realized, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.
As we entered the land of teenage brains, Curious George and Clifford the Big, Red, Dog suddenly felt like a lifetime away. I yearned to go back to a simpler time that was filled with building blocks, story time every Wednesday morning at our little, local library, walks in the stroller, running around at the park, digging at the beach, rocking, and singing him to sleep to Rascal Flatts or Winnie the Pooh.
Days when I called the shots.
When I picked the friends, when I made the plans, when lunch was at noon and nap time was 1-3 and bedtime was at 7:30, when I planned every last detail, down to the fruits and vegetables at each meal.
Now his days are filled with school, homework, sports, and friends. Some days, I barely see him. He gets up before me and goes to bed after me. I no longer know every food that goes into his growing body or everything he watches on YouTube. The most time I get with him is in the car driving him to sports or to hang out with his friends, and I know that if he gets his license next year, I’ll lose that time next.
Though those early years were intense and every second of the day was full, and I longed for just a moment to myself, now my days are full of moments to myself. I miss the days of fixing everything with a kiss, a Band-Aid, and snuggles.
I regret wishing those days away because if I could go back, I would do it in a second, but only if I knew then what I know now.
The teen years scare me mostly because of who I was and what I was doing at his age. But then a little voice reminds me, “He is not you, he is not living the way you lived, he’s not being raised the way you were raised, and you are not your parents.”
I can’t parent him out of fear. I have to continue to parent out of love and then hope and pray that as he goes out into the world, he makes good decisions for his mind, body, and soul.
These next years are going to be no less full. They will be full of letting go and holding on tight.
They will be full of milestones and moments that will turn into memories.
What I don’t want to do with these coming years is clear to me now. I don’t want to wish them away. Not even with the attitudes, teenage temper tantrums, late night pick-ups, freezing at sporting events, problems with friends, peer pressure, hard conversations, none of it. I want to hold on to these moments because before I know it, they will be gone just like the early years, and I will probably long for them too, but in a different way.
Sometimes when I look at him, I still see glimpses of my little baby, my firstborn. I made a lot of mistakes as a mom. A lot. And I’m sure I’ll make more. We are only at the beginning of this raising-teens journey. But the best thing I think I have done as a mom is to love my kids, be here for them, and give them a safe place to land at the end of the day.