Being a mother is joyous. And being a mother is heart-wrenching. What’s that quote? Something like, “it’s like having your heart walk around outside your body.” A heart can get pretty abused that way.
The first time they don’t cry when you leave them with someone else. The first time they drop your hand and run to catch up with a friend. The first time they wax poetic about their favorite teacher/babysitter/other special adult with the same rapture that was previously reserved for you.
Your heart breaks, just a little, with each milestone of independence and each snip of the apron strings. But you shake it off and solider on. After all, isn’t this your job? Aren’t you raising them to leave you one day? At first it happens slowly in early childhood, with enough recovery time to adjust to this new level of parenting. But then during the teen years it’s a full blown assault. Bam! Bam! Bam! There are new adjustments and negotiations that happen at an alarming rate.
I’ve been the mother of a teen for a few years now and just like parenting a smaller child, it’s both joyous and heart-wrenching. Sometimes within the same day. But I roll with it. I have learned to take the hugs when I can get them and not take it personal when I don’t. I have learned to listen when he talks and not take it personal when he doesn’t. Sometimes he wants to spend time with the family and sometimes he would rather be with friends. I don’t take it personal.
That’s the key to being the mother of a teen and keeping your heart in tact–don’t take anything personal.
Except this. This I am taking personal. How can I not?
I’ve read the books out loud to him since he was 5 years old. Every. Single. Book. Even the last books when he was more than old enough to read on his own.
I’ve been to bookstore parties, played trivia games and bingo.
I’ve stood in line–at midnight–with hoards of other fanatics.
I’ve taken him to every movie.
I’ve bought every dvd and watched the movies again. And again.
I admit, I’ve enjoyed reading the books as much as any kid and I am a fan even without my son, but I love that this was something that we experienced together. His dad could not follow our long detailed conversations and nor did he try. This was “our thing”–just us two–for over 10 years.
As I read the last page of the last book I was sad to have that time come to a close. Yes, I would miss that world, but mostly I would miss sharing that world with my son.
But at least we still had the movie, the last movie, to extend that time together, right?
My son just informed me that he wants to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with friends.
“But” I said, my voice sounding small, “that’s our thing.”
Let me say that I think kids should want to spend time with friends. I encourage it. It’s healthy and expected but how can he be okay seeing Harry Potter with anyone else but me?
“Sorry,” he said.
He didn’t sound sorry.
He sounded perfectly okay seeing Harry Potter with anyone except me.
Sure, I’ll see the movie. Alone or with my husband who will keep asking questions because he didn’t read the books and knows nothing about Harry Potter, but will feel sorry for me. Or maybe with my friend, a Harry Potter fan with children still too small to share her passion.
Either way, it won’t be the same without my son.
I get it; he’s growing, changing and finding his own way in the world. Trying on who he wants to become. I fully support that, but sometimes it’s hard to find common ground and I miss how close we used to be. But at least we had Harry. Harry Potter and the Wizarding World was always an easy thing between us.
I know that we will be close again one day, when he feels that he’s himself enough to be close again. And we’ll find new interests to share. But we’ll never have Harry again. That bond is, sadly, prematurely, over.
Can someone please come take this knife – er, Gryffindor sword – out of my heart?
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So I’m new to your blog and I love this post. Your son is adorable, you sound like one funkycoolmama.
Are you a fellow Atlantan?
Thanks so much for visiting my blog! Yes, I am a fellow Atlantan for this moment in time.
Aww, I know that feeling well. My nest is almost empty, with only one of 3 still at home. I wish I could tell you that it gets easier, but I can’t. One of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do was to drive 14 hours with my daughter, stay a couple days, then get in the car and leave her at college–I knew that it would be a big moment and that she would cry. NOT! She was even a bit “cheerful” as she hugged and kissed everyone and waved goodbye. I had planned to look back as long as I could, to see her standing there. But nope, as we drove away, she ran over to some friends and never even looked our way. I guess it’s good–to raise an independent girl child. But it does eat at your insides, huh?
No Jewel, I imagine that it doesn’t get any easier at all. I’m not looking forward to the day you described.
Wow. Awesome post … and such a hard situation. Have you thought about him seeing it twice? Once with his friends and once with you? I know its not the same, but that way you guys could still go together.
My kids are still young, but I see this day coming in my future – yikes!
Hang in there!
Winks & Smiles,
No Wifey, he doesn’t WANT to see it with me at all. *sniff* Give me a big hug the next time you see me, okay?
I never really appreciated how incredible mothers are until I was older (than a teenager). This post simply served to confirm that. I can’t even imagine how hard this is, but coming from the son side, know that someday he will see what an incredible job you did and appreciate you more than ever—even if he’s not good at expressing it.
I certainly hope so Stuart. Not that I expect it or need it. But it would be nice. 🙂
What an amazing post. My oldest will be 9 in January so I’m not experiencing the whole “I wanna be with my friends” yet. My girl still likes holding my hand as we walk through the mall. And she willingly gives me hugs, even when I don’t want them LOL. I think I’ll just freeze time and keep her at this age so she’ll never want to stop being mommy’s baby.
Looking over some of my older mommy blog posts, I can see what a difference a year makes; about 18 months ago I wrote about how my kids were fighting over hugging me.
Wow! So this is what it comes down to… for now…at least you had Harry. I don’t have that one special thing with my son and that hurts. You have raised a healthy,independent, wonderful son who is learning to fly with his own wings.He knows the way back to the nest and a wonderful it is.
I know Dawn that it’s a part of the process…growing up…but I just wish that we were as close as we used to be. Even as late as 18 months ago. 🙁
As you know, I’m on the “other” side of it all. I remember when The Boy started driving and preferred hanging out at Moe’s or Willie’s with his friends instead of Saturday nights at home. I can not say that it gets easier. I think we just become a bit stronger. When The Boy was home a few weeks back, he told us about a girl he’s been hanging out with. *drops head*
Yes, I agree…we just become stronger. Steeling myself for the “I’ve met a girl” speech that is sure to come one day.
What a wonderful post! I am glad I have a few more years before I enter the teen years.
I just left my sons room praying over him as he took a nap. Kids grow up so fast and I want to cherish every moment with them. I hug and love on them so much because they are literally all I have. I want them to be the best they can be and to be strong. Its so hard letting go I know. Enjoy your Harry Potter movie with you daughter or hubby it won’t be so bad lol. I’ve never seen one movie or read any of the books, I know, I know.
I’ll see it with you! I read all of the books alone and my mom being the teacher that she is bought the first 5 for me in a boxed set. I really enjoyed reading this post. I think that it’s hard for parents to understand sometimes. Even me being out of college have to explain to my mom that sometimes, I don’t want her to come every where I’m going or do everything with her. It’s not personal, but I just want to be with friends. I still enjoy every moment with her when we are together though!
Mine just told me Monday that he wants to go live with my ex-husband… a deadbeat that he hasn’t even seen in over a decade. He also informed me that he doesn’t need or want me in his life anymore. It’s hard trying not to take that personally! :/
Well, Em, that’s a knife in the heart for sure. 🙁
Great post….. I am having to learn these same things, our oldest is 6 and while we have bit before teen years it still stings when those “I’m getting bigger Mommy” instances pop up.
Wow…loving our kids is tough. But being smart enough to get out of the way is crushing. I still hug and kiss my son goodnight. I still walk with him in the morning to the bus stop. We eat breakfast together when I’m in town. We are best buddies as well as father and son. It will break my heart when this time comes, and it pains me right now to even think about it. Awesome post but difficult to read. Thanks!
They change us in such profound ways. Who could ever imagine that you could love someone this much and in such a complex manner?
I thoroughly enjoyed that post
This post brought tears to my eyes. Hugs and Much Love! Not looking forward to this day at all.