Monday, September 20, 2010

Where Did My Little Boy Go?

This post is late.  About 4 weeks late.  Man how the time flies!  Is it just me or does it seem like the days go by in a matter of just a few hours lately??

Eleven years ago in the middle of August, I had my first baby boy.  He was the easiest, most well behaved, happy little baby I had ever had the pleasure to know.  And he was mine.  I still remember the overwhelming love that rushed into my heart when I saw my son for the first time.  I used to waste hour after hour just staring at him and watching him and talking to him and loving him.  He was, for me, the perfect little dude. 

Back then, he looked like this:

Now he looks like this!

It seems like the little boy in him is trying his hardest to escape and run away.  In his place?  I find this giant Man-Child who is only a few inches shorter than me with feet the size of a small Sasquatch!!  Inside of his growing body are hormones that have turned my normally relaxed little kid into a frustrated wanna-be man.  Not old enough to hang out with the teenagers, but too old to hang out with the little kids.  Not old enough to watch certain TV shows or movies, but too old for many of the cartoons he used to love.  It's a tough place to be, for him and for me.  We have lots of issues now that we didn't have before, because he feels the need to voice his opinion A LOT more than he used to.  He's struggling with delivering his disdain for our rules in an appropriate manner.   We are struggling with the fact that he is struggling. 

I wasn't prepared for this stage of his life.  I didn't really know who he would be heading into puberty.  I didn't realize that his normally laid back personality would change so much!  Of course, I am recognizing that part of his discomfort and lack of enthusiasm these days in due in part to the fact that more and more expectations are being put upon him as he ages.  Big Brother isn't a guy who thrives on challenges.  He likes his livin' easy.  He prefers a slower pace with lots of social interaction.  And he prefers that social interaction to take place without his parents present.  It seems we block his Chi or something. 

His independence is nothing new.   He's always been comfortable being by himself and he was the one who was happy to start school and have his "me" time away from mom.  I want him to be able to be independent.  But I want him to be aware too!  Big Brother doesn't always get that simply being away from Mom and Dad doesn't make you independent and functional.  He thinks things will just kind of take care of themselves.  It's one thing to think you can handle life on your own because YOU think you're smart enough to deal with challenge.  It's another to be fully aware that, at times, life will be tough and in order to successfully navigate it emotionally intact and independently, you need to be truly prepared with proper coping skills.  I'm not quite sure he's ready to make some of the decisions he will have to make about who he hangs out with and whether or not he will participate in questionable activities, ya know?  There's so much he still doesn't know.  He just doesn't know that he doesn't know it yet.  I know what he doesn't know though, because I flew out of my childhood nest completely unprepared for what the world was really like.  I found it to be a pretty brutal and unforgiving place when I was young, because I really believed that everyone around me was who they said they were.  Unfortunately, people aren't always honest and a lot of those people have no problem preying on naive, kind-hearted teenagers who are looking for acceptance.  Funny thing is?  I think I was a lot like my son.  I thought I was pretty world-wise and could handle just about anything or anyone.  Turns out I couldn't.  And some of my choices (or lack of action) left some pretty big emotional scars.  So I worry about Big Brother.   

But...Big Brother is growing up.  And because he is growing up?  I have to grow up.   Maybe that's what all this melancholy I feel is really about.  I should rejoice that he is growing up and becoming a wonderful young man, because he really is a wonderful young man.  He is kind and loving.  He loves to experience new things.  He has this really incredible laugh.  And he is working so hard to find himself.  I should be happy.  But I'll be honest.  I don't know that I am that much more emotionally mature than my son is.  He is actually striving to be a mature adult!  I think I spend half of my time running away from that concept!  How can I help him be the man he needs to be to have a full and happy life when I can't even figure out how to have a full and happy life of my own!?

My son, my small man, turned 11 this year.  He reminds me every day that when I chose to be a mother, I chose to help another human being come into this world and make a life for himself.  He's reached the age where I am way out of my comfort level when it comes to answering his questions and teaching him the life skills he'll so desperately need to function well in the world.  I've reached the end of my skill set. So I worry.  Because I'm not sure I can stay ahead of the curve enough to make sure he always has a well-adjusted parent available to offer support and  guidance and direction.  I have to step up my game now - big time!  And I'm really feeling the pressure. 


bandanamomtoo said...

I totally get where you're coming from Geri. I remember being there and in some ways - I'm still there. It' odd to go from being the mom of small kids to the mom of teens overnight - and that's what happens. It's just this sudden thing. I'm a little ahead of you because I'm suddenly realizing that in about 4-5 years I won't even have any kids left at home...and I don't know that I feel old enough to be in that position, and yet, here I am. But here's the good news - you REALIZE this is happening, and because you know how hard it really is to grow up (even if he doesn't yet) you do have skills that other parents don't have. I am telling you - it still surprises me how many kids go through their teens while their parents are seemingly unaware that it's happening. They still think of their kids as the same person they were when they were really little, except they now give them much more freedom because they think they suddenly have earned it by virtue of being older than they were. I see so many kids get in trouble that way - because their parents just don't seem to be aware of what's going on at all. will do a much better job than you might think. But really does anyone feel any more mature than they were when they were 18? I don't. I still feel like an 18 year old girl in my head. Which means I'm only barely older than two of my kids...and one of them is about even...(he turned 20 this year! I can't believe that!) I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it's easy. It's so NOT easy. And then you'll end up feeling like you half way have it figured out and your younger one will have an entire different set of problems than the first one and then you'll have to figure out new solutions. It's really pretty challenging.'s doable. In my opinion boys are sort of awful until they hit about 15/16 - the years between 13 and 14 can be the hardest. I know you will do a great job, but I deeply empathize with how tough it can be.

johnsonteammom said...

Oh! He was just a little guy when you left and now he is all grown up!! Well, sorta. In my opinion, while these years are hard in a different way, they are way, way, way more fun. Just remember to enjoy them cause it goes fast. In fact, there is my 18 year old calling me, gotta go. Love you.

I Am Boymom said...

Well, the fact that two of the most amazing moms I know just commented on this post leads me to believe that there are lots of moms out there who identify with this stage of life and have navigated it somewhat successfully, so I'm feeling a little better right now. Thanks, my good friends, for the encouragement!

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