Lately, I've been faced with a new language barrier. This one comes in the form of my oldest child who will be sixteen next week. Right now, he's a man of little words and even less visible emotion. Although he doesn't believe me or his father when we tell him that we can easily remember being his age, it's the gosh-honest truth; I really can.
I can remember coming home from school and speeding as quickly as I could to my bedroom to do two things:
- check that none of my stuff had been destroyed by a younger sibling, and
- avoid getting entrenched in a conversation with my mother about my day.
"How was your day? How did the math test go? Did you eat all of your lunch?"
At least, that's what my little self-absorbed, easily-annoyed, teenage brain thought. I couldn't (wouldn't is closer to the truth) see that my interactions with my parents were all one-sided. I couldn't see that they wanted to get to know who I was and who I was becoming. I couldn't see that they actually enjoyed my personality (well, not the snotty parts) and wanted to spend time with me. I couldn't see that they had loved me from the time before I was born and that they still loved me. When you love someone, you want to spend time with that person.
Let me say that again...
When you love someone, you want to spend time with that person.
Despite the fact that he/she is sharing little-to-no information about his/her life with you, you still feel the need to ask the questions. Despite the fact that he/she is behaving erratically in mood and behavior, you still feel the need to connect with him/her. Despite the fact that your repeated attempts to grow closer are rudely rebuffed, you still try to find common ground.
The baby you carried inside of you all of those months, who bruised your ribs with his almost 10-pound posterior. The baby who refused to turn from a transverse position, causing you a 57 hour labor, with the last 7 hours were spent trying to push him into this world. The baby who had to be surgically removed from your body because he didn't want to leave his Mama. The baby who made direct, unblinking eye contact with you the first time you nursed him. The baby who cried minimally unless you put him down, so you held him all the time. The toddler who wouldn't leave your side in public because he was so shy. The toddler who cried for you every morning for the first year of school. The little boy who told you that you were a "good makery, Mom", when you cooked his favorite meals. The sturdy 1st-grader who jumped into your arms from the mini-van EVERY afternoon after school in the driveway. The anxious and happy 7 year old who received the Body of Jesus for the first time.The brave 11 year old who, with tear-stained face, held the lifeless body of his baby sister and said goodbye so sweetly. The impish 13 year old who made his Confirmation and wrote his parents a beautiful letter about why he was blessed to be a Catholic.
This is what I see every time my taller-then-me son looks so annoyed when I ask to talk about any (even ONE?!) of his friends. These are the memories written on my heart, along with so many others, that play out like a movie in my head every time he says hurtful things to my, or his dad, or one of his siblings.
It's not because I see him as a baby or young child, although this is what he accuses me of doing, It's not because I don't want him to grow up. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth.
I see the strong, tall, muscular, and very handsome MAN he is becoming.
I see the bright future in front of him, and I am so excited for him.
|*not us. I wish I were that "sporty"!|
No, it's that I can see the entirety, the whole process that is him from before he was to right now and I know most of the things that are possible for his future. A future that his father and I worked and prayed for unceasingly.
It is for all of these reasons that I bother him so much. Because I have my love and my eternity invested in him. He won't understand this for a long time. I don't expect him to understand. I know that it's only finally and completely dawning on me. So, until then...
To my own parents, especially to my Mom (because I am a mom, and I "get" it): I am sorry. Please forgive my teenage self. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Thank you for not giving up on me. For always asking questions. For trying to see the goodness and sweetness in me, even when there really was none. Thank you for trusting me and believing in me. Thank you for being my mom.