They were a cluster of testosterone, those teenage boys. As a mom, it was intriguing to watch my son take steps toward manhood as we spent a week on a school tour of Athens and Rome.
He didn’t want me around. Groaned when he happened to be assigned a seat next to me on a plane ride.
He didn’t want Mom.
He wanted his friends.
He craved independence.
As the mother of two teen boys, my biggest challenge is learning how to let go and let them fly . . . And flounder.
He was polite to strangers and to the guides who shared their abundant knowledge about the places we visited. He made some wise choices in his interactions with others.
I stepped back as he made some purchasing choices I thought were . . . unwise. But, it was his money, and he has to learn how to move beyond the draw of the moment, how to step back to evaluate if the purchase will be a good one after the shine fades.
Watching a young man try to fit in is hard sometimes. I relaxed some of our normal family boundaries so he wouldn’t be teased by his peers. He embraced his freedom as we traveled with our tour group.
He knew how to handle himself in an airport, even when our flight was delayed, and we were stuck overnight in a foreign city.
He turned his normal anxious response to a screen and lost himself in a game. All the boys did, really. I don’t know if that is the healthiest way to deal with stress when life goes sideways. But in this instance, I appreciated how he didn’t freak out and slather me with all the emotion churning inside.
When plans didn’t go as he expected, he expressed his feelings, but in a good way.
There were moments when the “new” felt too big. I was glad I could be his home base when he needed a moment to regain his bearings and figure out how to deal with the environment. The feeling that comes from being who he turns to for stability is . . . comforting.
Looking at photos I took of him, I realized he’s lost his boyhood features. His face and size are growing into manhood. My heart broke just a little at that realization. The days sometimes feel long, but the years . . . they’re flying by.
As much as I’d love to hold onto the child that he has been, even more, I look forward to seeing the man he will become . . .
. . . the person God created him to be.
These years are an in-between stage where childishness gives way to maturity . . . usually in stutters and tumbles. But the hints of who he’s becoming are there. I just need to step back to witness them.
I signed onto this trip knowing he’d want to be with his peers more than with me. But having a front row seat to observe how he interacted with unfamiliar situations gave me a deeper respect for him. While he didn’t jump into every new thing, he walked forward regardless of his feelings.
Mothering teenagers is a hard privilege.
Hard because they don’t want to listen to us—their parents. They yearn to try things on their own terms and discover how it works.
Privilege because, knowing we’re in their corner offers them the freedom to grow, try new things, make mistakes, and to know we still love them.
Our trip was unforgettable for many reasons. I went into into it knowing I was more a bystander than a participant in his experiences. This perspective eased the sting of some of his words and actions.
We’re home, and I’m seeing changes as he’s settled back into daily living with a new, broader understanding of the larger world. We’re finding our footing in our relationship with each other, and with Hubs and Peter.
And yeah, as the testosterone continues to pump and sometimes drive both boys, Hubs and I are talking and praying and learning how to release our hold. We yearn for both of our boy-men to become the men God designed them to be.
What about you? What special memories do you share with one or more of your children? How have you learned to let go so those you love can grow and learn?