“There has never been, nor will there ever be, anything quite so special as the love between the mother and the son.” (Author unknown)
As a child, I always dreamed of being a mom. I thought I’d always be a girl mom. I grew up with sisters, so that’s all I knew. Surprisingly, my second child was a boy. I was not prepared for the joy and wonder of being a mom to boys. That quote encompasses my relationship with both of my boys so well. They are both so incredibly special and I’m thankful God gave me the opportunity to grow through the challenges of raising young men.
Whether I’m talking about my boys or my amazing daughter that I have an equally close bond with, to say parenting is hard is an understatement. If any of us knew what we were getting into at the beginning, we might have not gone through with it. Or at least asked for a refund of some kind! My husband and I have survived the toddler stage and lived to tell about it. We now have our last in middle school. This honestly could be an entire series itself with reoccurring posts, “A guide to surviving the middle school years: Just let them out to feed and then promptly put them back in their cages.” No lie. The middle school years can be brutal. But like I said, two out of three children survived it, so I think our odds are good for the third. We hope.
But in all seriousness, this gig is hard, and sometimes we try so hard to make it like we have it altogether and I think we’re doing ourselves a real disservice as moms. We’re doing a disservice to each other. It’s not fun to feel like you’re the only one who has bad days as a mom when you see Marsha next door posting her perfect pictures of the dinner that she just made. It’s especially hard when you’re just trying to keep your life together, much less consider making something for dinner.
My oh my, how wonderful would it be if what we put on social media every day was really the truth? Yes, there is truth to it, but it’s a surface level truth. It’s glazed over and it’s the best version of ourselves that we want the world to see. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need so many filters to hide the blemishes of our “regular” pictures. Putting our honest selves out there doesn’t feel so glamorous sometimes, so we doctor it up a bit. We don’t post the reality sometimes, because it makes us vulnerable, and might make us seem weak. We don’t want to make anyone else feel what we feel on the inside, because we don’t like it, so we sure don’t expect other people to like it either. So, we isolate ourselves and we make ourselves believe we’re the only ones who struggle.
I’ve had a limiting belief that if I talk about my struggles as a mom, or about being a woman in general, I’m being negative. No one wants to hear from a “Negative Nancy.” We could turn on the news if we wanted that. Let’s just keep things on the “Positive Polly” side. Being honest about our struggles can actually help us and others come to a new understanding of the situation. Sometimes new perspectives change our mindsets. That’s why sharing can be really important. I realize that not everyone sees things through the same lens I do, but darkness is where isolation resides. It’s really hard to talk about difficult things, but maybe in doing so that’s where the truth is and if you do see through the spiritual lens that I do, the truth will set you free. I need some freedom from my isolation and maybe you do too. So I’m giving this a whirl and talking about something really hard for me as a mom.
My second-born child and firstborn son, Kyle, is 14 years old. By the way, I want to preface this by saying I have his full permission to post this. We have talked about it. He has edited it, and we have done this together. I would never want to share anything without his permission because my role here is to honor both of us as we walk through this together.
Kyle is the most amazing kid. I have never met a more articulate, loving young man. He is my old soul and he is extremely loyal. He would do anything to help you out. He loves his dog, Rex, so well. He is the best dog brother out there. He has so much courage and isn’t afraid to go for something that he wants. He is sensitive, and a wonderful son.
Kyle also struggles, just like any other teenage kid does. The teenage years can be grueling and cruel. I thought it was hard then as a teenager myself, and now watching as a mom, it’s even worse. Most of Kyle’s struggles are because he’s small. He’s a late bloomer. He has an August birthday and when he was in kindergarten I chose to not hold him back. I don’t regret that decision. It wasn’t taken lightly. I talked with his teacher and he’s so stinkin’ smart that we both felt it wouldn’t be good for him academically. Might it have been a better decision for other reasons? Possibly. And honestly, when you’re making decisions for your kids, you’re always seeking the best. Sometimes it ends up being a win, and sometimes it doesn’t. You can’t guilt yourself over every little decision. You just have to make some choices and pray the good Lord gives grace if it was the wrong decision and leave it at that.
Kids are so mean. It hurts when you’re the butt of the joke, regardless of the reason. It hurts when people think that because you’re small, your feelings or thoughts are also small. He is a person regardless of his skill, ability, or size. We all are, and yet sometimes we treat each other on the contrary. You could fill in any kind of issue here, and it would be the same feelings. Don’t discount someone as a person because they look different than you. They are just as much of a person as you are and have the right to space on this earth just like you do.
Will he eventually hit puberty? Yes. It just hasn’t happened yet. And while that makes sense to me, it’s hard for a 14-year-old to understand that when all he sees is that everyone else is so much bigger than him. I can tell him all day long that he will eventually grow but getting him to believe it is hard. It’s a daily challenge sometimes. There can be and have been lots of tears over this issue.
I know our story is not unlike other family struggles. You can change the story with a different issue and the application and lesson are still the same. It’s so hard to know what to do as a parent. We just want to fix it for them, and we can’t. That’s probably my biggest challenge. If I could have changed something, I already would have. I’ve learned the only thing I can do for my kids in these hard years is to really listen to them. I can be there for them as much as I can and pour good things into them. I had some of the same struggles growing up, except I was always the bigger girl. It’s equally as hurtful. I have shared with my son about how I have had those same feelings, and he doesn’t always connect with it. To him, he’s the “only one” and I know he’s not, but again to a 14-year-old, that’s how it feels.
Some days it’s so hard to watch. It kills me and I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to say I’m having a bad day as a mom. I can love him and I can be a listening ear. I can hide temporarily, but I can’t do it forever, just like he can’t do it forever. I have to get up and wipe the dust off, so I can help him wipe the dust off too. He and I have talked countless times about how “this too shall pass” and some days it’s really hard for him to keep the faith. He’s prayed and prayed and nothing has changed. One day I looked at him and asked him if he was okay to rely on my faith. That maybe if he was tired of trying to believe, maybe he could just know that I had enough faith for the both of us. He hesitantly agreed. But, that was seriously all I had to offer. I was grasping at straws myself, because for so long I’ve felt like I’ve only been able to say, “I don’t know” when asked why he hadn’t started growing. The thing is, I do believe. I believe with all my heart. I just know sometimes our answers don’t come right away, but they do always come.
A couple of weeks ago when I started thinking about writing on this subject and I had a conversation with Kyle about this, I told him why I thought it would be good to write about it, and his response was so nonchalant. I told him that maybe other moms who are struggling with how to help their kids need to hear how another mom has walked through some struggles and how we’ve coped. His response was so telling to me. He said, “yeah mom, I know it’s hard right now, but one day the ending is going to make one heck of a story.”
Yes. Yes, it is Kyle. One day his struggle will become the strength for someone else. Just like my struggle as a mom will do the same for another mom. It doesn’t mean it’s not hard, and it doesn’t mean we’ve all figured it out and are perfect. It means we are doing our best and learning life lessons along the way and willing to talk about the hard things in hopes it will help someone else.