This is a momentous Mother’s Day, yet another Mother’s Milestone. I am the proud Mom of 2005 model brand new teenager. Although he sometimes gets frustrated with my slowness to absorb his new young “man-ness”, this marvelous change enhances us both.
You may have to check back with me in a few years, but I am turning over a new leaf. Raising a teenager could be fun, should be fun, WILL BE Fun.
Just like toddlers, teens learn a ton of stuff in a few years.
Instead of learning to talk, they learn to manage cell phones
Instead of learning to walk, they learn to drive cars.
We no longer make play dates, they (gasp) go on dates. (Still not really ready for this one.)
The question of what do you want to be when you grow up now becomes more focused. Ever watchful, I see my son calculating the hours, the pay, the enthusiasm those around him bring to their workspaces.
For me, one blessed space in the day remains wonderfully the same. Tuck-in time is still a quiet moment in the day when I hear the heart of my boy. Sometimes I just sit quietly in their room in the dark and listen as my boys fall asleep. Praying over them and listening to whatever they want to share. Closing out the day this way keeps the connection.
Mother’s Milestone Answer 400 Questions A Day
Just like toddlers watching adults walk and talk, teens are watching us closely as we work and play. My son tossed out in the air like a falling snowflake the question:
“What is life really about?”
Lying on the living room floor he did not expect an answer nor did he want one. As I silently shared this moment, I thought only wise men search for the right questions.
As a small boy, he asked about wheels, trucks, cookies, dogs, chickens, Daddy, Jesus, ants and graham crackers. Now many of my life questions spring from his lips.
What am I really about?
What is my character-true nature?
Who do I want to be for the next 50 years?
Am I asking the right questions about my life?
The challenge I believe for parents is not the teen, so much as the unfinished business within ourselves. Teens do what they do. They explore the world, try things, test boundaries, practice forming relationships, break things, break rules, break hearts.
This is all part of the differential process. It is the very same process of the toddler defiant “NO”.
NO, I am not you!
NO, I am not going to stay inside the lines.
NO, I am going to test what I know to be true, especially you.
Just like the toddler, inside every teen is a loud voice asking,
Who am I?
What does it mean to be me?
How am I separate from those I care about and who care about me?
What can I do to be just me, without them?
Can you love me for who I am?
This differentiation process poses a challenge–a challenge to the parents carefully crafted belief system. Here is where I am trying on a new personal discipline or not taking offense. Now, when my son questions me on a familiar family process, I think “hum” why do I/we do it this way? Is it still serving us? Is this something to let go of like an old worn out pair of sweatpants?
I Am Marking the Mother’s Milestone with My new catchphrase, I wonder…
What his latest rebellion brings up for me?
Why do I need to control this aspect of his life?
If I don’t respond, what will happen?
If I let him walk his own path, who will I be?
Am I still needed?
This last one I can definitely answer with a big YES! Thanks to all the dear mothers with adult children that have surrounded me during this child raising process. Teen years are a transition worth grieving and celebrating. Yes, the little boy with the golden curls now looks me square in the eye with a lazy stare when I ask him to pick up his socks. And yes, the little boy who used to ride in the shopping cart with me at the grocery store now hitches my travel trailer and changes the oil in my dirt bike.
My only parenting failure at this stage would be to not accept the change in him and me. One can’t fight it, control it or alienate my precious son.
Needed, oh yes, desperately just differently. My son is off to fight his own private battle. Sometimes tilting at windmills and sometimes very real dragons. My job now is to hold the fort, maintain the campfire and finish my own unfinished business. So when he comes to me for light and love, I fling my arms wide and say “all that I have to give is yours”.
Challenged By Changes
Wisdom I gleaned so far
Watch what your teen triggers in you and take this opportunity to heal it now. I find that each mother’s milestone comes with personal challenges to your own identity. Take the time to grow into the person God created you to be.
Let go of the wheel, it is his turn to drive his life.
Respond with joy to any shared piece of his life.
Suggest doing it imperfectly, failing, starting over.
Be the adult.
Finally two quotes for this Mother’s milestone
I leave you free to be yourself, to think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, behave in ways that you decide are to your liking. -Anthony De Mello, A Way To Love
Fathers (Mothers), don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Remember even Mary the mother of Jesus dealt with rebellion. How afraid would you be if you lost the son of God at age 12 in Jerusalem? Mary the mother of the fully human fully God perfect son also experienced these Mother’s Milestones.