Accepting My Teen: A Shift in Attitude
Winter was Forgetting. Spring is Remembering
Spring is in the air. Yesterday every window of my home was wide open. I usually love to watch the sheers in the living room billow out with a cool breeze and gently lay back down over the windows, back and forth, over and over. It is usually such a peaceful sight…Usually.
While playing on the floor with my toddler, I could hear the annual peals and squeals of the neighborhood kids as they rode their bikes and skateboards past the house, racing and daring each other, reveling in the rebirth. This happy sound bore a hole in my soul. A hole. The sadness puzzled me. Usually spring’s sun and warmth and smells bring me out of winter’s gloom and gray….usually. But instead of feeling light, I felt suffocated. For awhile, I wondered why…for awhile.
Later on, returning home from a visit to my parents’ house, I rounded the corner and saw those same neighborhood children standing on the side of the road, a kickball in their hands and my instinct–a split instant thought–was to look for my son, Gannan, king of kickball, prince of warm weather, skateboarder extraordinaire. However, reality set in quickly and I realized that I wouldn’t see him. He wouldn’t be there, out on that road, in the front yard, up a tree because he was no longer a part of this neighborhood. It dawned on me then that his essence was what was missing, and that absence was making me sad.
But this column is really not about the wheres, whys and hows of his leaving. If you want to read about that you can do so at my blog. Instead this column will serve as a reminder to parents of teen sons. Sometimes the trials and tribulations, the battles and the bitter, the disrespect and the dirt can cloud our thinking and we forget to or won’t notice the beauty of our boys. We get so involved in “trying to fix them” or “teaching them life lessons.” We get so preoccupied with keeping them out of trouble or with our disappointment in their adolescent decisions that the negativity can mire us down in a bog of muddied intentions.
And I will fully admit that this fall and winter my mindset had been exactly that; disappointment, worry, doom and gloom, gloom and doom. My mind kept a constant vigil in reminding me that Gannan WASN’T this or that. His life choices were so WRONG. What if….what if….what if…he got in serious trouble, stayed on this brambly path, what if…what if….what if?
But the presence of spring and his absence has made me realize that he is so much more then this little adolescent bump in the road (alright maybe not so little…okay okay…it’s a crater!) Anyhoo, my point is that I had forgotten that his energy, especially in spring, is infectious. I had forgotten that the stories he deftly tells at night of his outdoor adventures make us smile and look forward to dinner. I had forgotten that he was my husband’s companion in the evening on the couch talking sports and all things baseball, high-fiving over a homerun, ribbing each other when their favorite teams held the lead.
I know that although our children may make poor decisions and get lost, even very lost on their way to adulthood, I must try and remember, as all moms should, that our sons are made up of layers and layers of characteristics both bad AND good that make them the unique individuals that they are.
So since spring does typically mean a rebirth and a brightening of attitude for me, I am going to make a promise to myself, as well as to Gannan, to shift my thinking from what he isn’t doing and who he is not to who he IS. Who is Gannan? He is energy personified a bouncing ball, a kinetic dynamo that keeps us all on our toes. He is intelligent. He can talk politics with an ease that rivals his equally superior knowledge of sports. His enthusiasm for music is a commonality that binds us together. During long rides in the car he introduces me to something new he’s put on his iPod. He chatters away about the band or the guitar player or the words to the songs. I wouldn’t trade these conversations for anything in the world. His knack for gab and his story telling skills are entertaining and will someday, I am sure, be put to incredible use. His heart is large and the love he has for his little sister and his beloved dog, Vixen, would be impossible to quantify in an eternity of tabulation. His smile lights up the darkest corners of the loneliest room. Gannan is all of that and more. When we’re together, I am going to revel in that, instead of feel depressed about what, at this moment in time, he is not. And I am going to let him know that I have not forgotten…I have not forgotten. And for now, that will have to be enough. Perhaps, that shift in attitude will be more than enough. It might just be what he is looking for, a parent who will assure him that even though, even so…he is loved for ALL that he is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed.