When Parenting your Teenage Son, Feels like Dating one

I have avoided looking at the August calendar like the plague. Like if I just keep the mask over my mouth and nose, it won’t get me. Or better said, it won’t arrive. But it arrived on uncertain terms and melded into some magical moments. Moments that I knew, even while in them, that I would be clinging to as my last-born son saddles up for Life Part II. College.

I find myself analyzing every detail of each conversation we have and haven’t had. Analyzing what he meant by the few words he chose, wondering why he didn’t choose others. I can see deep in his eyes and know that somewhere down below that entire ‘I stand for my freedom’ look, my baby still lurks. That his little smile is tucked away, and the little being that only wanted to be as close to me as possible, still yearns for me to not walk away…not yet. But even through my optimistic goggles, it is challenging. I admit it. Some days it is impossible to convince myself that my little baby who once begged me to simply watch his every move is actually still in there and more importantly, loving me.

Most days when our eyes meet, I wonder why my heart pounds the way it does and why I feel a familiar heart break. He is a teenager. Not only that, but he is how I have groomed him to be…breaking away from me just in time for him to be officially on his own at college. He is a 3D billboard announcing, “I am independent and ready to go.” Though what usually whispers in my ear is, “I don’t need you anymore.”

heart break blog picture

The odd part is how familiar it feels. His older brother did not go through the phases of life like this, so this familiar ache in my heart as I watch my 18 year old carve out his own path, seems like it should not feel familiar at all. Clearly I have not felt this way before. Or have I?

Then I read another mothers’ retelling of how parenting her teenage son was remotely like dating one…and I got it. Loud. And. Clear. That was exactly where I recalled this feeling: He loves me, he loves me not. I may not exactly remember the boys I dated, but I do remember the ache in my heart. And now that I look more closely…it is much like how I feel when I am with, or without, my son.

  1. He doesn’t always answer when I call him.
    I know that every time I choose to call him, rather than sending him a text, I have a 10 percent chance that he will pick up. I also know that whether I leave a message or not, I still have the same chance of him actually calling me back. I still call anyway…and hope.
  2. I know I can get his attention with chocolate chip cookies.
    Actually, if I mention I have made banana bread or chocolate chip cookie brownies, I know I will at least see him long enough to inhale a few and then head out the door. I also know it will be the only ‘thanks mom’ of the week, but I will surely feel loved.
  3. He mutters things I cannot completely decipher.
    I do not know how he has made it this far in his life, nor how he is so well liked by everyone given the few words he says…but I know that if I am asking a question, chances are very good that whatever his response is, I will have to accept, even if I don’t understand it…since he won’t have enough patience to actually repeat it.
  4. I’m afraid to look at what’s on the floor in the backseat of his car.
    I wasn’t afraid actually. But after I made the decision to do a random act of kindness that involved me cleaning his car, I realized I should have been fearful. Ugh. What? I mean, like…seriously…what is in your car???
  5. Some days I know he loves me. Other days I’m not so sure.
    The moment I see those baby blue eyes, I know. I mean, I know for SURE, that he loves me. As a matter of fact, for the 120 seconds or so that it takes him to open his mouth and start talking, I am clear that he loves me deeply. That is, until he starts talking and I begin to think that he is going to break up with me.
  6. I think he is really, really, really beautiful.
    I really do. I find myself looking at him astounded that I created such a beautiful human being. Even to this day I can look at pictures of him for hours and feel blessed if I get to actually observe his face while he is asleep.
  7. He probably reads thetexts I send him, but I can’t be sure.
    I mean, I’m pretty sure if the word read never appears under the message, what he saw in the subject header was more than enough.
  8. It takes everything I have not to yell, “Just talk to me!”
    But I don’t since what would be the point? Yelling anything at my silent teen does not get him to talk at all. It usually just makes him quieter. So I ask one or two questions and then accept silent as a way of being.
  9. He says he doesn’t want anything for his birthday, but I don’t believe him.
    How can that even be a thing? Doesn’t everyone want ‘something’?
  10. I hoard anything he’s bought for me—cards, dried flowers, and gifts—as proof of his love.
    The little crumbs he leaves behind, remind me that he loves me.
  11. He just doesn’t want to go out to dinner, and I don’t know why.
    It’s not that he doesn’t want to eat. He does want to eat. He also does like to go out to eat. I try to not give the impression that I know it is because he doesn’t think it’s cool to be seen with me in public.
  12. I remind myself to give him space.
    Every hour I remind myself that in order for him to be independent, he will have to be in his own space. Not in mine. But really I wish he was 6 and would take a seat on my lap.
  13. Sports matter more than me. A lot.
    Enough said.
  14. He hasn’t figured out that I just casuallyhappen to be places where he is so I can engage him in conversation.
    Maybe he has, but loves me enough to pretend he doesn’t notice.
  15. I keep hoping someday he will realize how amazing I am.
    And hoping and hoping and hoping…

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