Okay, for those of you who aren’t familiar with me or my story, let’s get this part over with quickly—I’m a mom of 2. A 10 year old daughter and a 20 year old son (well 20 years old in just two more days). When I first became a mom at the age of 18, I had no idea what I was doing and how I was going to do it. Thankfully, I was able to weather the various storms that came my way while raising a kid at a young age. Now that he’s an adult, out of the home and living on his own in Los Angeles, I have been able to slowly transition from parenting a teen to being a parent of an adult.
The fact that he is turning 20 years old in just a few short days still befuddles me. It was if it were yesterday when he was dressing up as the red Teletubby watching The Big Comfy Couch and carrying around his Barney. He was my pride and joy then, and remains the love of my life now. We went through so many challenges and overcame so many obstacles to get to where we are today, so there’s a bond that he and I share that can never be broken. For as long as I could remember, it was always my son by my side wiping my tears away and being my little hero that could. And now he is no longer a teen, and that in itself has me feeling some type of way. Truly.
Our life has been no crystal stair. We’ve had our lights cut off, ate spaghetti every day for a week, and lived hand to mouth during those early years. But those hard times helped mold us into the individuals who we are today, and I can say that it taught my son to be appreciative. As I often tell folk, I’ve been a mother longer than almost anything else—the only thing that trumps my motherhood is me being a daughter.
So, of course, since I’ve raised up a man, I’ve learned a lot through the years. Most of which I’ve cataloged and stored so I could reflect upon later. The lessons, the tears, the changes, they were all worth it. And in the end, I have this incredible human being that I birthed and nourished, who is now on his own flying with the wings that I helped him grow.
Oh, the lessons my mommyhood taught me:
My son will tell you that I wasn’t the most affectionate mama. I grew up with parents who I knew loved me but didn’t say it at all to me until I was grown. I found myself following in those same footsteps of showing love, but not being able to say it. So I had to get out of that. I had to let my children verbally know that I love them with everything I have. It is this love that I use when everything else may not be going right. It is this love I share when my son may be feeling alone since he is so far away from me. There is nothing like a mother’s love, and it is so important that we make sure that we express this love to our children always. It is this love that they use as fuel to do so many great things.
2. Stop Feeling Inadequate
I was always the young mom. The one that the parents looked funny at when I attended events and things, because I was often so much younger than they were. I used to feel less than or not up to par with them. And then I grew some balls and started not to give a (shut your mouth) what others thought of me, my parenting, or my age. I let go of “media’s” definition of what a parent was so that I could be the best mom I could be for my boy, and now my daughter. I am so glad I let go of that baggage I was carrying around.
3. It Hurts
Your child will hurt you sooner or later. No matter how perfect we think they are, they will hurt you. Not intentionally for the most part, but it will happen. Trust this process. Grow from it. And don’t take it personally. My son hurt me a few times with things he said to me, but these things were his truth, and they allowed me to see his side. We’ve grown from it, and for that, I am thankful.
4. Be Vulnerable
We all want to be a rock for our kids, but they also need to see our vulnerable side too. We don’t always have to have the answers for everything. And it is okay to wing it. What our kids look to us most is for love, safety, and guidance. The moment I began being real with my son is the moment we really began to thrive. He appreciates my vulnerability (or at least I think he does), and he in turn, becomes the strong one for me too.
5. Don’t Be Like Your Parents (Even if they were perfect–be your own kind of
Be your own parent. Be different. When I became a mom, it was quite evident I was going to be a different type of parent than my parents were. Not because they were bad parents—but I am just a different person. I wanted a different experience than the one I had growing up. I think a lot of parents, those of us that have been parents for years, still feel that they have to conform to their parental units when it comes to the way they did things. “If it was good enough for me, then it will be good enough for my kids”. WRONG.
Yup. I am the mom of a 20 year old, now. No more “teen” behind those numbers. Scary thing, but I’m ready to see what the next 20 years brings us. Because you know, I am so blogging about it all. SNORT!