This week I’ve been musing on the raising of teens and just what a dangerous endeavor it can be. I suppose parenting in general, really. It’s this seemingly never-ending cycle of need and rejection that starts in infancy, cruises along, and really hits its stride in the preteen or teenage years.
Teens are funny creatures. No longer children, yet not quite adults, they reel you in with need and vulnerability, firing off every nurturing mama-nerve you possess. When one’s baby is struggling, it’s a visceral response that comes out. We want to help. We want to offer wisdom. After all, we have a lot more life experience to draw from.
So we start momming.
Like many in the Christian community, I was devastated to hear of the passing of TobyMac’s eldest son, Truett, on October 23rd this past year. I hesitate to use the word devastated, but that indeed is how I felt for his family that day. He was 21 years old, same as my own boy, and I could empathize on that rare gut level, that place we connect as parents.
In my last post I wrote a grand set up for this 2019 Beautiful Truths #4, and now I find that I’m struggling to put words to it. In my attempts to narrow down and actually define this truth, I have lots of words and phrases that run through my head.
My beautiful truth #4 of 2019 actually started a couple of years prior, so I thought I’d write a post to segue into it, rather than try to cram it all into one epically long post.
I actually wrote this piece several years ago. Today my son turns 20. Twenty. No longer a baby, no longer a boy scout, a dancer, or a teenager. He is really and truly a man, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
So take heart, my mama friends who struggle with kids who learn differently, kids who stretch you, who baffle you, who make you doubt your ability to do this momming gig. Our Father’s got them. And in His time, they will turn out to be far more than you dare to imagine…
Better Than I Imagined
My finger was bleeding. As I watched the crimson bead form on my fingertip I wished, not for the first time, that I was more skilled with a sewing needle. I reflexively put the injured digit in my mouth and looked down at the size 10 men’s ballet slipper resting in my lap. I had to get the elastics on before my son’s next lesson. Resuming my work, I smiled as I thought of all that had led to this rather surreal moment. My son, the ballerina?
My last nerve was exposed and raw, just waiting for a spark that would ignite it like the fuse on a stick of dynamite. When my daughter entered the room in tears, the match was lit.
We’ve been in the middle of rehearsals for a theatrical production and the choreography wasn’t turning out as she’d hoped. The grand visions in her head simply weren’t panning out in the sphere of reality and as a result, she felt stuck and unable to continue.
This sweet, smart, sensitive daughter of mine is my polar opposite in many ways. Most notably, she is emotionally expressive, while I am not. My daughter and I have a major disconnect in this area, and as I said, on this particular day I was already operating with the last nerve ready to be tweaked.
“Randy lay there like a slug. It was his only defense.”
– Jean Shepherd, A Christmas Story
I can really relate to Randy. It had been my intention to take a couple of weeks off of homeschooling and writing after Christmas to relax and get some work done. Entertaining visions of sitting in my cozy room, fingers furiously clicking on my keyboard keeping time with the rhythm of the rain lightly hitting my windows, I was sure I would not only get ahead on my blogging, but I’d be fully organized and ready to roll for a new term of schooling.
“Have you ever thought about trying some positive motivation?”
My friend’s words were spoken gently, with a hint of hesitation. Even so, I bristled. Spouting off some lame excuse, I ended the conversation, hung up the phone, and nursed my stinging pride. Positive motivation? What did she think I was, some screeching harridan, oppressing my children with my negative parenting? Harrumph!
When I became pregnant for the first time, having endured several months of fertility treatments, I was confident that I knew exactly what I was getting into. I’d read books and articles, I’d studied other parents in my sphere, and in my youthful arrogance I was sure I’d be the perfect mama.
Then, after birthing my daughter, reality walked up and b*#ch slapped me, knocking me flat on my smug posterior leaving my ego bruised and bloody. Dazed, I realized I didn’t know squat. This motherhood gig was HARD.
I swore at my son the other day. Well, not exactly at him, more at his disability and how much work it puts on me. Even as the words flew from my lips, I knew I should be horrified. Ashamed of myself. Instead, all I felt was a bone-deep weariness.
I’m tired. So, so tired.
I’ve been at this homeschooling gig for over 15 years now. Most of those years have been a struggle with varying degrees of language disabilities. It’s hard. My youngest two, who are not learning disabled, have been given the dregs of my time, attention, and enthusiasm.