Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've Been Changed

I just have to say this out loud -- I love being the mom of teenagers! I know that these words may come back to haunt me later, but right now, that's how I feel. It wasn't easy being the mother of three babies under 20 months and it was even more difficult when the number grew to four under four, but every stage has become more enjoyable along the way.

The teen years have proven no different. Yes, there are challenging moments but I don't think there has been a better time to be a mom. It's only now that I can truly see the adults my children will become soon. It's only now that I can talk to them about taboo topics and share their music. It's only now that I get enjoy moments when they still want to be my little baby.

I've always tried to avoid being a friend to my children thinking it was better to take on the role of boundary keeper. However by some default of the process, I feel a transition taking place. I feel like my children finally respect me for more than just a caregiver and short-order cook. They actually want me to be involved in their world beyond mac and cheese.

It's a hopeful light that our adult relationship will be a good one. I feel like I am standing on the edge of a road with many directions to travel. The one I choose now as my teenagers turn the corner to adulthood will determine where our relationship ultimately settles. My own mom did a wonderful job parenting and raising me. However, it was her reactions in my teenage years that ultimately drove us miles apart, emotionally.

As I look at my three teenagers, I realize that most of the foundation has been laid already. They know the do's and don'ts and the definitions of my values. They know to go to church on Sunday even if you stay out late on Saturday night. They know you must study hard and make good grades. I've given them all the information and now they have to apply it to their lives. This doesn't mean I will stand by and watch if they begin to stray from the road I want them to take. I will continue to set boundaries for eating well, coming home at a reasonable hour and spending money on unnecessary trinkets. But I feel my role changing and our relationship with it.

Just the other night I spoke to my daughter about her views on finding her birthmother one day. It was a very mature discussion and exchange of views that I cannot yet enjoy with my 9-year- old. It was intellectual and stimulating, and I realized I was talking to a young adult that could finally verbalize her thoughts in way that was more friend-to-friend than parent-to-child. It felt good.

Another day last month, I learned that I was my teenage son's #1 friend on MySpace. I'm not sure this is something a mom should brag about, but it evoked that same sense of change. I was not longer the person he wanted to hide from at the school carnival or the person who embarrassed him with praise from the t-ball stands. It was a transition I welcomed with open arms. Even if they were only virtual.

By Maria Bailey

3 comments:

Lynn said...

Maria,

As co-author of this blog, it may be a little self-serving for me to comment on your post, but I must! Your post today has really moved me. I'm afraid I am headed in the direction that your mother took with you, and I do not want that to happen. I am still fumbling with the boundaries that I am setting for my daughter. It's a difficult time for both of us. I plan to sit her down today and try to have a heart-to-heart with her. I don't want to lose her, emotionally. Thank you for setting my heart straight.

kathysena said...

Maria, what a lovely post. As the mother of an almost-13-year-old son, I hope to reach the point that you're at now in the coming years. This post really spoke to me. You're obviously doing a lot of things very well in raising your kids. Keep those posts coming! Love the blog.

GeminiWisdom said...

I'm not a mother (and don't plan to be), but I write YA fiction, so I'm glad Vanessa over at On Teens Today recommended this blog. I'm 3 yrs away from being 40 and a newlywed at 2 yrs and 2 months (but who's counting? LOL).

When I was in my teens, I loved hanging out with my parents. I still do. My older sister made tracks at 18 but they had to kick me out at 25. LOL. Back then, I was thinking that if I grew up to be even HALF the woman my mother is, then I would be all right.

I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.