I’ve been thinking a lot about my oldest son – 18 today!
He’s the first born, a quiet, self-sufficient guy who keeps busy with many interests and responsibilities. He’s easy going, never complains – a boy who’s finally grown up to be a young man. The letters and emails from colleges are arriving and soon he’ll be heading off into to the big wide world.
Have I supported him enough? Could he possibly know how much I love and care for him?
When I say, “I’ve been thinking about him”, the reality is I’ve been thinking about myself in relation to him. Recently I’ve been trying too hard and in all the wrong ways.
When we’re in the same room, I feel an urgent need to connect. I find myself falling into a default, one-way, boring-as-heck line of questioning that runs like this:
How’s school-How’s it going-What’s going on-What time’s practice What are your plans after school-What friends are in your classes this semester?
While he’s patient with me, this stale inquiry goes nowhere.
I feel an awkward gap between us.
Here’s a beautiful contrast. First thing when my son comes home, he goes to the dog, and they share a few moments of mutual adoration and affection (face licks, tail waging, cooing noises). Seeing them together warms my heart.
What does my son see in his special friend?
- The no-pressure act of just being
- No one is asking, prodding or demanding ANYTHING
- The warm & fuzzy factor
Then I get it: for him, my efforts to connect feel like poking, nudging, and even prying; less like a relaxed, neutral, loving presence. Ichh!
So I decided to make a shift. Instead of eagerly confronting him at every turn with the usual litany of hollow questions, I would stay put, be present and let him come to me.
Once I embodied my new perspective, I noticed an immediate change. He came to me simply asking for help finding supplies and this felt HUGE from a kid who RARELY asks for anything.
Stepping into his shoes is helping me let go. At the same time, I’m learning to adapt to my children’s ever changing needs.
For my 18 year old, I’m channeling my inner pooch.
While I draw the line at face licks, happy whimpering, and faithful obedience, my inner snoopy-mama is more present (letting him come to me), unconditionally loving (fewer questions and less attachment to the need for answers), and always happy to see him.
As always I encourage you to share your insights and questions below. The parenting journey is so much more fun when we travel it together!