Life with my three darling boys (insert sarcasm) has been on cruise control for some miles now. Once we moved beyond the baby and little kid stage, there was a reprieve of sorts. Although sometimes extremely chaotic, days were mostly predictable: eat, school & family, eat, friends & video games, eat, homework, eat, activities & sports, play outside, eat, and sleep. Did I mention eat??
There’s been a slight disturbance in the force and I sense us heading slightly off-course. He once played Thomas the Tank Engine and built symmetrical towers, but then transitioned to screen fixation, awkward grunts, and the inability to smile for a picture. Then came the physical: acne, hair on his legs (more furry than fine), and oh my gosh — what’s that smell? His feet grew bigger than mine, and then I turned around, only to look up. Puberty is a monster, but it lands you in this unfamiliar dimension.
As the calendar continued to flip, where we’ve arrived was inevitable. This past month, my precious baby – the first one I swaddled and held in my arms – became thirteen. Thirteen! It feels hauntingly official. How did this happen? How do I have a teenager?? More importantly, what do I do next???
There’s a part of me that mourns for the baby days; they’re just so precious, innocent, bright-eyed and dependent on us. No matter how many kids you have, the first baby changes you forever. They alter the way you perceive life and your purpose in this world. I truly believe God chose me to be Jackson’s Mom and his brothers that followed.
I sense a theme . . . God again forgot to provide directions.
With this milestone, I know life will be different. That may seem obvious, but it’s a somewhat jarring experience. After all, in this case, thirteen is not just a number. He is going through a whirlwind of change, and yet I am still the same mom. That’s an unanticipated challenge. So, what’s the plan?
I never was one to over-read the baby books. When questions arose, I’d have my go-to girlfriends that were moms (an utter necessity), or thankfully, my own mom and mother-in-law. At times, when I was desperate, I’d tap into the experts — don’t get me started on the dark side of potty-training!
But, day-to-day as I approached the MANY obstacles that motherhood brought, my number one rule (and maybe yours) remained constant: follow my instincts.
I’m not saying that always worked, but it’s what I did. Keeping with that mind-frame, I’m concluding that although he’s becoming this teenage guy with broad shoulders, strong opinions, and a much smarter sense of humor; it doesn’t mean I abandon who I’ve always been. And maybe, just maybe, if I call upon that able-bodied mom we will successfully get through these years, too.
I will no doubt grow and learn throughout this new development, and probably in time, my change will come. But, the fact remains, he needed me then and he needs me now. Many say, more than ever. It’s intimidating for sure. Watching him evolve can be both joyous and heart-wrenching. Complicated issues are at the surface . . . if Mark Zuckerberg and the brains behind Instagram say he’s old enough for social media, do I? Do we finally break down and get him a phone, even I can admit how practical it would be. Am I really allowing him to fly (without us) to Washington D.C. next year for his eighth-grade trip when I myself fear getting on a plane? These are the things we (hopefully) can control.
Girls. I just can’t go there . . . yet.
But, I can do this. Mamas, you can do this. We’ve been doing it all along.
I say we start by showing up, as we always have.
I’m choosing not to grieve, but rather embrace this. My plan is to consider the first twelve years of motherhood basic training to prepare me for my teenager(s) and pull from what I already know. As a mom, I’ve learned patience, how to listen, kindness, acceptance, how to teach & direct, how to be a cheerleader, how to love with everything I’ve got, and so much more. I know what it feels like to experience the really good days, and sadly, the really bad ones. This all MUST, at the very least, make me a viable candidate for this job.
Yes, I am qualified and continuing to follow my instincts is the first bullet point in my business plan. I built my resume by becoming the mother I am today. I’ll be available with open arms, guidance, counsel, and by lending an ear to hear his laugh as well as his cry. But most importantly, a lifetime supply of unconditional love. I could read every article, book, or blog in the world, but I’m sure there’s something someone would say I’m doing wrong. I’ve figured him out thus far, so I must have faith I can going forward. I have to believe ALL OF THIS makes me ready. I just hope he is, too.
He’s just thirteen . . . how bad could it really be (said the naïve mom!)?? Today, the unknown gives me great pause. But, in no time, I’ll be an old pro . . . right? I’ll show him who’s boss.