A Letter to Mothers of Teenage Boys

Dear MOTBs:

How do you do it?  

How do you watch the child you swaddled, nursed and cuddled grow into a young man?  The child you got down on your hands and knees to play cars with no matter how mind-numbing it felt to drive around the same track over and over again.  The child you built Lego upon Lego creation with despite your utter lack of creativity and architectural know-how. The child you kicked the soccer ball with in spite of your bum knee.  The child who looked up at you and swooned and told you you were the “best mommy in the whole world.”  

What do you do when the child who once clung to your pant leg in an uncomfortable social situation doesn’t want you anywhere around in a social situation for fear that YOU will be the one to make him uncomfortable?  I mean, I would never!  Doh. 

How do you make the shift from “leading lady” to “best supporting actress?”

My oldest is fourteen.  Gone are the days of looking down into his lake blue eyes.  Those eyes now stare down at me.  Gone are the days of lotioning his soft little bum after a nightly bath.   He would be mortified if I saw any part of him after a bath.  Scratch that - a shower. 

I am no longer an integral part of his daily development.  I feel like George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life” as I watch my son orbit around, beside and in front of me, but not always with me.  The son I tripped over because he was constantly underfoot, now finds solace in the solitude of his basement bedroom.  

That child doesn’t need or want me to engage in his every activity. He doesn’t need or want me to manufacture his fun. He no longer invites me into his world.  In fact, he much prefers I stay out of it.  He wants to navigate his own world.  Make his own mistakes.   Man that stings.  

How do you not only watch your son from the sidelines, but release him to become the young man God is shaping him into?

I have three youngers that will have their day, but goodness, it’s hard to parent the oldest child.  Everything we go through is a “first.”  We don’t always get it right.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I pray to God there’s grace for that!  

I suppose there’s something magical about parenting the first born.  But there’s also something so insanely hard.  Watching your first born grow up is like reliving your first heartbreak all over again. 

So here I stand.  Treading unchartered waters.  I’m learning to talk less and listen more.  To hover not as a helicopter mom, but as one who just wants to be in the vicinity when and IF the mood strikes and my son wants to share a small nugget of the rich mystery of the thoughts floating around in side his heart.

I’m looking to you, veteran MOTBs, for advice, for encouragement, for any bones you can throw my way!  How do you do it? How do strike the perfect balance between connection and disconnection?

Inquiring (desperate) minds wanna know!