I have two children going through puberty. A boy, 13 and a girl, 10. In recent years when I had considered this scenario, it scared me. As a mother I struggled with a son who was different from other children. I always had my own mothers…almost curse running in the back of my head “Your children are always ten times as bad as you were.”
Lets put that in perspective. At 12 years old I was a runaway, smoking, getting drunk, getting high, getting arrested, having sex with guys at least 10 years older than I. I got pregnant when I was 14. And there was my mom telling me that my son would be ten times as bad as me? Holy Fuck.
As the years crept by I could feel this silent panic creep over me. At times it was almost paralytic. He’s never been an easy kid, and it’s been a long hard trudge. As 13 crept ever closer I felt sick with fear. I imagined the scenarios in my head. Would I be a grandmother before I turned 30? Would he start drinking, doing drugs? Arrested?
Then it was there. In the middle of an absolutely soul destroying, devastating year my oldest son turned 13. I bought him a top of the line, just out mobile phone. (Free with 24 month contract people, I’m not made of money.) He opened it and just stared at it and then he cried. He cried. And hugged me and thanked me and told me how much he loved me.
Oh, I still have sleepless nights, afraid of what might still be lurking around the corner. And whenever I have to step up to the plate and be the mean mom, I do it with a hole in my stomach, terrified that he will stomp out and slam the door and vanish from my life, as I so often did to my own mother.
But, I do it. When his study habits in this crucial school year were clearly unacceptable I had to tell him he could no longer go out with his friends after school. He would be studying and practicing his math and reading instead. I was scared, but I did it. It didn’t go down well. But, it has had the intended effect. His teachers are thrilled with his progress so far this year.
I don’t know what the future will bring and I knock on wood that this wonderful kid I am raising continues to have strength of character and commitment throughout what are guaranteed to be tough days ahead. But, day by day- I let go, a little, of the fear. I have raised good kids. No matter what, they will be ok, and while they may not always have good judgement, I know they will make the right decisions when the line in the sand is drawn.