I decided this morning that I feel like a bird raising my precious dearest tadpole son to be a frog that I will let hop away from me one day. I am not a frog, and have no idea what a tadpole needs to do to become a frog. I have to use my observations and ask a bunch of friendly jumbo frogs what to say and do for my tadpole boy.
He is changing so much before my very eyes: he is now tall enough to lay his head on my shoulder when we hug; he can wrestle his little sister into a (crying) pretzel in very short moments; his voice is hardly recognizable; he doesn’t want me to encourage him in any way at his sports endeavors (I think I am supposed to only show confidence and pride, nothing that could be construed as a lack of either, but I need to confirm that with a few jumbo frogs before the next tournament). He is at that stage where they just don’t realize they are getting stronger and don’t know their physical impact when they hug as hard as they can, or dig their chin into our shoulders as they embrace us (it is a joke, and kinda funny to paralyze mom for a few minutes, haha-not!).
I’m mostly by nature a loving, compassionate, listening mom that loves her kids so much she tears up sometimes in embarrassing moments. But he needs a heavy every now and then in his life; he admittedly will take advantage of situations if he is given too much freedom. For example, that overly sweet 3rd grade teacher he had 5 years ago that he walked all over, which angered her, and then his feelings were hurt by her reactions, and a cycle of ugly began that lasted 9 long months.
Being his mom and dad at the same time is tricky business. I need to be strong and demanding, not letting him get away with sneaky or bad choices. I also need to be compassionate and a good listener so that I can teach him about communication and working problems through. Some say single moms should not try to be both. But my single mom friend Sandy and I agree without a doubt that there are times we have to lay down the law with a heavy resolute not-messing-around, not-open-to-chatting approach.
Regardless of their sex, the follow-up alone while raising a teenager takes an enormous amount of concentration and focus, leaving little left for the increased food gathering, money-making, bigger clothes buying, and my behavior conversion from talking-listening-talking to watching-watching-asking those miraculous questions.
I want to teach him to be a good worker, a good member of society, one of God’s children, and yes, a good husband some day. Modeling to him what a good woman is like, and teaching him to respect all females, whether they are mothers, sisters, teachers, girlfriends, or just friends is very important to me.
I want his wife to have a husband who is thoughtful and kind— not selfish, lazy, immature or uncommunicative.
I am also teaching my daughter to respect his feelings and preferences, even though he doesn’t insist on them, or express them like she does. He has no hope, really, of not learning the estrogen ways while living only with his sister and mother. But I think I need to be as obvious and methodical teaching our ways to him as I would really like a partner/tutor for me, teaching me how to understand men’s ways. It really is foreign territory, understanding those “other sexes”. (For example: “Honey- I’m not sure if your girlfriend would like to see you collecting another girl’s phone number on your facebook page, just something to think about”.)
Teaching him to handle freedoms a little at a time responsibly… that is also a huge task. I want him to be able to know there is an entire jug of red vines on the top of the refridgerator and not be driven to consume them all while watching Phineas and Pherb after I leave the house on Saturday morning for an hour.
Eventually, he needs to get thousands of dollars in a paycheck and not spend it all in the first 5 days on trampolines, Nike shoes, and bubblegum… So I have to really watch what I model to him with my financial habits too (and resist spending it all on trampolines, Nike shoes, Qdoba, and pedicures).
As mothers of teenage boys, they are leaving our hearts a little, breaking free from our laps and constant support in order to be the men that we want them to be: independent, strong, and making good choices based on their sound judgement. We need to be making a good impression while planting seeds that they will use.