My little angel is 14

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Is this not the cutest angel you've ever seen? I'm wondering where he went. This little cherub used to greet me with a precious smile and warm hug every time I picked him up from this preschool where the ornament was made. This Christmas, as I pulled this out of the ornament box, I had to catch my breath and hold back the tears. We all know that our babies do one day become teenagers and those smiles and hugs get replaced with annoyed looks and "what have you done for me lately?" I just wasn't prepared for how quickly the time would pass. On the eve of his 14th birthday, I am now saying "just four more years". Wow.

As I looked through photos for my in-laws annual family scrapbook I was sobered and stunned by the difference in just 12 months. 25 pounds and 4 inches to be exact. The boyish face is now a man's-even shaving once in a while-- and the sweet, innocent voice is about 50 octaves lower. He does his own laundry-or maybe just recycles the clothing for all I know--makes his own lunches, manages his own schedule. And yet, we're still responsible for him. Such a strange time in a parent's life.

This has definitely been a challenging year as the boundaries have been pushed, consequences for behavior have been in overdrive and the grocery and clothing bills have skyrocketed. These are trying times to be raising a teenager and especially one with a strong will and insatiable desire for independence. As his mother, who has 29 years on him, I just want to provide protection from the "big, bad world" and return to 1999 when my biggest worry was potty training. On some level I long for him to stay a little boy and yet, I know we are called to "train them up in the way they should go--emphasis on "GO". The final goal is not overprotection and shielding but providing a good foundation and preparing him for independence. As hard as this has been, I know it is essential.

This summer I read "Parenting Your Teen and Loving It" and the author had some timeless advice for moms of teenage boys: "Preteen and teenage boys need to be free to become men. And that usually involves increased privacy, increased independence and decision making and increased respect from their mothers.......It's hard to loosen that nurturing spirit, that emotional connectedness, and that maternal response, and let it shift to a new place. It's difficult to step back and find a new way to relate. Because in some ways you surrender a piece of your mothering soul when you release a boy to become a young man--and that can be painful. But it's paramount to his wholeness. And even though the transition is tenuous, it is incredibly critical. It's critical because it impacts how he views himself. It's critical because it sets the stage for future relationships in his life. I'ts critical because the ability to have a healthy relationship between mother and son hinges on it. If a mom can confess that yes, something is changing with my son...If she can acknowledge that he's different now, and so are we...If she can realize that because of that change, she needs to rethink the way she acts and reacts..then she will honor the wonder of what God is doing."

As that day of ultimate independence approaches with lightning speed, I want to celebrate my firstborn and the young man he is becoming, not ruminate over what I'm losing. Because what I'm gaining is far more important.

Happy, happy 14th birthday, Quinn!! I love who you are and look forward to who you will be. Thanks for the privilege of being your mom.


3 Responses to “My little angel is 14”

Shelley Davis said...

Beautiful post. Your children are so handsome. It's hard to believe how time does pass with "lightening speed" as it does. I miss them. My grown children. 14 was the hardest year for all three of our older boys. I hope it is easier for Quinn as well as for you and Trey.


Anonymous said...

I love the way you honor each of your family members with your words! They are amazing boys and I love that they are a part of our lives!
You continue to make me all mushy inside when I read your words...I would tell you to knock it off, but I love it!
Thank you for sharing Dana!!

Emily said...

You are awesome, Dana. I love you. You better believe I'm going to call you down the road for your thoughts on our own children. :)