This past Sunday was my 52nd birthday. It was a great day. I got a chance to sleep in. Then, my husband not only cooked a wonderful breakfast, but he also made some delicious homemade chicken pot pie. Woohoo! To top it off, I didn’t do a darn thing! I just laid around relaxing all day. It was glorious. There are only two times a year that I am able to do nothing, Mother’s Day and my birthday. I talked to lots of family and friends, plus I received a plethora of Facebook and Instagram posts wishing me a happy birthday. Oh, I almost forgot. I even received messages on LinkedIn. In fact, I’m still getting birthday wishes from those who may have missed the notification. It’s fine though. It’s just nice to be thought of. When people take time out to acknowledge my birthday, it’s a good thing.
The funny thing is, I kept thinking I was turning 51. In fact, typing this blog I typed 51. Back when I was in high school, I actually forgot my birthday on my birthday. It took my brother wishing me a happy birthday for me to realize it. Age really isn’t important. The number of years someone has been on this earth doesn’t tell you much, other than they’ve been here a relatively long or short time. As someone may have said, it’s not the years in your life but the life in your years. Age is a good way for people to discriminate against you. But age also gives people an idea of what you may or may not have experienced. For instance, my son, being 14, will never know what it’s like to use a rotary phone or to be a human tv antenna. He’ll never know a Curtis Mathis tv or that tv actually had a time when it was completely off. Once 1:00 a.m. came around, there was nothing on your tv but static.
Often times, the more years you’ve been on this earth means the wiser you are. Unfortunately, that is not true for everyone. Life has so many lessons to teach but if you never learn them, where does that leave you? Usually nowhere good. I must say that some lessons are harder to learn than others. Sometimes, those lessons aren’t learned if we’re not open to learning them. This usually comes from being stubborn and thinking that you know best. We would all love to think that we have it all figured out but we don’t. Even I, at 52 have some things to learn. One thing I have learned is, even though kids may have more things to deal with, they are still pretty much the same. Their thought patterns are the same. Their motivations are still the same, even if the object of those motivations is different. As one of my friends said, having kids lets you see how stupid the lies you used to tell your parents were. To be honest, I didn’t tell that many lies. Just a few. The reason being is that I wasn’t one to really do things I wasn’t supposed to do. I was and still am, a rule follower. I did break rules and suffered the consequences for them, but not often. My thing is, if I feel that the rule is valid, logical and I can see the benefit, then I will gladly follow it. If that is not the case, that’s when we have a problem.
Anyway, in this 52nd year of my life, I am learning how “interesting” it is to be the parent of a bonafide teenager. I thought having a newborn was a challenge. Nope. I think that challenge goes to having a teenager. With newborns, there are a limited set of reasons as to why the baby is crying. With a teenager, you ever know why they are brooding. Actually, I think that is their standard state of being. I really don’t believe that I was that way as a teenager. As my son gets older I learn more and more things about myself because he reminds me of me. Well, except for the brooding, somewhat negative outlook, and lack of motivation in school. Aside from that, he’s pretty much me as a boy. I am learning patience and improving my listening skills. I want to make sure that he knows he is being heard. I believe that when he feels heard he will be more likely to speak more openly. Since I’m an encouraging person, encouragement is not difficult for me to do. What I need to work on is relaxing and realizing that he may not always receive what I am trying to give him. Another lesson that I’ve learned is that parenting is hard. It’s harder than adulting. Perhaps this is why I never wanted to be a manager when I worked in corporate America. Too much stress dealing with people who felt they knew everything and didn’t understand why they would have to listen to me.
Another thing I have been working on is letting go, little by little. Sometimes he wants me there and other times (when it’s convenient for him) he doesn’t. By nature, I am a very helpful person. If you need help, I’m right there. Sometimes I am helpful to a fault. For instance, because I’m a photographer, people like for me to recommend a camera for them to buy. What? Instead of me telling them to search up cameras that have the features that they want and then reading the reviews, I end up doing it then providing them with the information. Don’t worry, I’ve started telling people what they need to do to get the information. I’m a photographer, not a camera specialist. With that said, I’m learning to give people the tools so they can find what they need instead of me doing it.
One of the most important and heartbreaking things I have discovered is that no matter how much I want to help my son avoid certain pitfalls, I can’t. He, like many other teenagers, feel they know everything. So, when I tell him something he doesn’t always believe me. The sad thing is that he knows I’m right. In fact, he told me once that he hates when I’m right. Really? Shouldn’t that be a good thing? But, when you have your sights set on something and someone tells you it’s not a good idea and why you probably don’t want to listen to that. Right now he’s cleaning up a situation because he didn’t listen to me. Ah well, what can you do? I’ll keep talking to him and I’m sure something will stick. Not sure when it will be totally manifested but I’m sure it will. You know, this is not at all what I had planned on blogging about but I guess I just had to get it out. Once I sat down and started typing, all of this came out. Evidently, I guess I need to express myself more. I do hope I wasn’t rambling because that can happen. I have so much that I want to say and it’s all trying to get out at the same time.
My last thoughts on raising a teenager. Let them make mistakes and once they do, let them rectify them. Let them make decisions but try to guide them when allowed. Talk to them and help them find reason in their decisions. Perhaps if they understood why they were making a particular decision they would be able to discern whether or not that is a good decision. Let them be independent but watch from a distance. I’ve only got about 3 1/2 more years with my son and I want to make sure he’s ready. He thinks it’s a long time but we all know it’s just a flash in the pan. As you can see, age has made our perceptions differ. These are just my opinions and what I’m doing with my son. I am not an “expert” whatever that is. I’m just a mother who loves her son and wants him to be independent and happy. I want him to be able to take care of himself and handle problems himself. Isn’t that what we all want?