I think it was about the age my son turned 10 there became new boundaries: too big for cuddles, tickling or crawling into my bed anymore, and most of the time even hugs.
I mourned that time hard. I never knew when the last time was. There was no warning. It was just all the sudden we aren’t doing this anymore.
OK, I respect that, I do.
Things are becoming so different now and I am trying to keep up.
But I guess I’m still struggling to find my new place to connect.
My son, you are changing so quickly and I almost don’t even recognize the man you are becoming.
I crave connection with you and try to find some common ground. Yet at the same time, I catch myself rolling my eyes when I’m busy and you want to show me a YouTube video of something I have no clue about and it doesn’t interest me in the least bit.
I mean, I listen as best I can when you talk about all your Xbox games.
I sit idly by when you show me YouTube videos, trying to keep my mind from wandering to the 500 other things I should be doing.
I watch you create computer animations and let you try to teach me techy stuff.
You can go on and on about history and politics, leaving me to believe you are way smarter than I am already. I nod and smile and try to chime in with what I do know.
I think about how you may just be a better person than I am in multiple aspects; maybe you always have been.
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Since the day you came into this world, you have been unknowingly teaching me how to become a better person.
You showed me how to be a mother and brought out this nurturing side to me I never thought existed. I cringe thinking about where I’d be without you.
Between you becoming older and now having a new baby sister, we’ve really been struggling to stay close and relate to each other. I already felt the divide before your sister was born but now, we really have to fight it.
You endure a lot without ever saying much about it.
I sense that you would love to sit and talk to me for hours about all the stuff that interests you and show me all the weird things you are into, but instead, I give you a sharp tone and tell you I just wanted quiet time while the baby is napping. All of this weighs heavy on my heart.
And you don’t push. Never. That’s not you.
You go on about your business and I sit with my guilt.
You would never be loud or disrespectful to adults.
I see you.
I know your heart.
You are a tender person.
You are quiet.
You are alone a lot for a teenager.
This introverted, analytical personality of yours has distanced you from a lot of your peers. You are not interested in some things like sports that would typically bond you with other kids your age, but if all this bothers you, you definitely do not let it show.
You completely accept not being in the “in-crowd” and seem completely accepting of who you are, I marvel at that. You have a couple of really close friends and are perfectly content with that.
You are not a risk-taker and you feel best playing it safe in all situations. Sometimes all these things worry me, that you might miss out on opportunities you need to experience.
You struggle to find your place in a very small town with a limited number of classmates, where there are not a lot of options for your interests.
You are definitely wise beyond your years. Your maturity astounds me.
So far you are a much more grounded and obedient teenager than I ever was.
My heart melted the day you walked home from school later than usual and told me you wanted to stay to hold the door open for everyone leaving to get on the buses. This started a new trend for you for the rest of the school year. Leave it to you to find a way to be social and friendly while remaining in the background, like you like to do.
Or the time the neighbor stopped me and said it makes her day that you wave at her every time she drives by on your walk to school. Even though you would never speak up in a crowd and find it uncomfortable to talk to someone you don’t know, you still find an outlet for your kindness.
Then there was the time I was completely overjoyed when you got out your wallet at church to tithe without ever being asked.
Even as I write this, you are outside mowing, leaf blowing, picking up sticks, and filling up your baby sister’s kiddie pool. You said you would “just go ahead and do it all” because you know how tired your dad is when he gets home.
How did you get so nice? How did your heart get so big? What did I do to deserve you?
You wear your heart on your sleeve and this worries me, too. However, we have come such a long way from when your 2nd-grade teacher told me you would cry when you couldn’t get your homework right. You’ve always put so much pressure on yourself.
You have really come into your own, and I just love you so much. You truly have been a godsend for your dad and me. I wish showing you love, attention, and affection were as simple as it used to be. But now affection looks different, more complex, more engaging.
So, I will try my best to understand what is so great about EDM (electronic dance music) and grin and bear it, all in an effort to stay connected to you. Because you deserve it. Because I know how critically important and formative these days are, and honestly, there aren’t many left.
I have to prove to you that you matter, no matter what.
We have reached a point to where you have surpassed me, not only in algebra but also in character. It makes me wonder who is supposed to be teaching who here.
I pray you will continue to hang in there with me while we figure out how to maneuver this time in our lives. And thanks for teaching ME how to be a mom to YOU.
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