There was a disco at Bella’s preschool tonight. She’s been super excited for days. She picked out what outfit she wanted to wear and as I helped her get dressed, she said, “I’m gonna see my boyfriend there.”
I’m calm, cool and collected. “Oh really? Who?”
Bella fluffs up her skirt and answers, “Brayden. He’s my number one boyfriend.”
The Hot Man is not so calm, cool and collected. “What?! You have more than one boyfriend?!”
You can tell Bella thinks that’s a dumb question. Hands on her hips. “Yes Dada, I have six boyfriends at school.”
Bella is a bad-ass.
I laughed. But I also wanted to cry. Because I miss that. I long for that. The honesty, opennes and directness of a four year old. Because Big Son is seventeen and secretive. Furtive. Holding information close and his emotions even closer. There was a time when Big Son was Little Son. When he confided everything in me. Asked for my advice on everything from homework to hairstyles. From pimples to presents for the girl he had a crush on. There was a time when his hurts were mine. His worries kept me awake at night. His fears were mine to overcome. His joys were beribboned packages that we opened together. Big Son taught me how to love. How to place another’s happiness above my own.
Now? Now Big Son puts up walls. Throws up smoke screens. Chucks angry rocks. At times it seems there is an ocean of distance between us, between me and this child who was the first to hear my heart from the inside. Yes, I know our children must grow up and away from us. I know they must have privacy, independence, secrets and autonomy. Fall in love. Do stupid things. Make weird choices.
But it still hurts. And I miss him. And it’s hard. To try and forge a new relationship.With the adult, the young man that he is becoming. To make sense of the confused mess that we’re in right now. To assert new boundaries and redraw the lines of our relationship.
What do I want? What do I hope for? Long for?
I want for him to confide in me. I want us to negotiate a space where we can laugh, cry and contemplate the mysteries of the universe. (Diet Coke and Doritos optional.) I want to be the mother that he can talk to about anything and everything.
Even if its to tell me that he has six girlfriends. (Or boyfriends.)
Do you think that’s possible? For those of you out there with teenagers and adult children, please tell me how you do it? How do you let go but still keep them close?