My oldest son turned 13 recently- something I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I brought him home from the hospital with so much excitement and anticipation? Everything he did was noteworthy! He’d coo or cry or see something new or make a new sound and I just couldn’t get enough!
I chose to stay home with my kids because I just didn’t want to miss a second of their growth. And I have been blessed to be present for all their milestones. First words, steps, times on the potty. I witnessed them all. And now, I get to witness my son’s transition to a teenager.
But recently I was sitting around a concession stand with a bunch of moms (as we tend to do) and each one of us shared similar feelings about our kids. We all found it hard to believe that the other children could behave the way the mom was describing because our experience of their kids was so different. To each of us, the other person’s child was a pure delight!
And I began to think about myself at that very tender age. I remembered feeling that my parent’s just didn’t know anything about who I was beyond our home environment. I had matured, but outside the house…out of their view. And either I wasn’t given the opportunity to share with them in my more mature way or they just couldn’t see it, but I had grown. Maybe in the same way that my little boy has grown.
You see, much of my frustration comes with my son’s apparent unwillingness to work hard on anything or show ambition toward any goals whatsoever.
But then I had the opportunity to see him in his latest musical production and he blew me away! He was brilliant! And the thing is, I’m a really tough audience (ask my husband!) who is not partial to my own kids. So it’s quite a testament for me to be impressed by his performance. And more than the sheer talent that he displayed, what impressed me more was his magnetism and light! He has a unique ability to share himself with others, bringing rays of sunshine to all who witness him.
This isn’t the first time he has blown me away as a performer. I’ve always known he was talented. But with the exception of maybe one day, I NEVER saw my son rehearsing his lines or his musical numbers for this show at home. He has such a natural gift that I guess he just doesn’t have to work on these things to do so well. At least, not the way I did.
And there is the rub.
Is part of the conflict that I experience with my son a result of the fact that I’m projecting my own experiences and expectations on him? Am I angry that he has to do so little to do so well? And am I trying to fit the square peg into the round whole by demanding he work in a different way?
Part of my fear is that he will never develop a healthy work ethic and won’t have the skills to succeed outside of the house. And I take my job of helping create a man that’s going to show up and be a positive influence in the world seriously.
But for the amount of conflict we experience, I have an inkling that much of it is due to my own frustrations with myself. Perhaps there are areas in my life that I’m holding judgments about myself and how I’m not working hard. Yeh, that strikes a nerve.
I left his show asking the Universe to help me see a different way to communicate with my son. One that has less conflict and more mutual appreciation and respect. Maybe these awarenesses are the first steps in that direction. I know how to work with these judgments, starting with self-forgiveness and reminding myself of the truth.
And the truth is that I am grateful beyond measure to be on this journey with my older son. He is unique, for sure. And part of my own learning is finding a way to love him more fully and unconditionally, while still creating the boundaries and a path that will allow him to grow into a mature, responsible young man.
It’s the job I was put on this earth to do and I will continue to remain open to the learning, joy, laughter and loving that comes along the way.