Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dear Lord, My Baby Boy is a Teenager.

This weekend, my son turned 13. That was bizarro. It means he's only 3 years younger than Brad was when we started dating. It means that soon girls will think of him the way I thought (and still think) about his dad. That makes me throw up in my mouth.

He's just a little boy; right? He still crawls in my lap and snuggles with me. He still wants to hang out with us and doesn't think it's queer to go on a date with his mom. He's not embarrassed by the notes I put in his lunch. A couple years ago he told me someone made fun of my note in his lunch, and I said, "Well, I'm sorry his mom doesn't love him as much as I love you." But I asked him if he was embarrassed, and I told him it would not hurt my feelings if he didn't want me to put notes in his lunch. He said, "No, Mom. I like your notes."

But very soon, he's not gonna be a little boy anymore. He goes to high school next year. Surely, I can't put notes in his lunch then. And I wonder if we will still be able to gush over him. He is the only boy in a family of strong female personalities. We love loud and expressively. We hug and kiss and gush.

My husband gets really uncomfortable and embarrassed when the womenfolk in his family gush over him. It generally only happens at events that serve alcohol; nevertheless, it happens. See, we were both pretty invisible in our families, so now when they "see" us, it's awkward. For a long time, we only saw each other. For a long time, that was comfortable. It's still comfortable when it's just us. We see each other, and we are happy in that world.

Once, we lost a group of friends that meant a great deal to me. I cried, and Brad said, "We were fine before, and we will be fine again. All we need are the people in this house." Our circle has grown to include others, but he's right: If we just had God and each other, we'd still be just fine.

But someday, my boy is not gonna live in this house. Someday, my boy is not gonna need me. Someday, is his wife going to have to remind him to call me? Is she going to suggest that he should send me a card? Is she going to dislike me? Will she think I'm crazy and possessive? Will she think that his sisters and I are too overbearing and keep him away from us? Will he decide that he just needs the people in his house?

I don't let myself go down that road too often, but I actually pray a lot about my son's future wife. I pray that she will love and cherish his tender heart. I pray that she won't run over him or take advantage of his gentle nature. I pray that she will appreciate and encourage him. I pray that she will want to be part of our family. I actually have a lovely young lady picked out for him at church, but I guess that might be overbearing. Course, if that happened to be God's will, I would surely rejoice. This is the time where I imagine God shaking his head at me. Lovingly, of course.

In the meantime, I will keep praying and doing my best to cultivate a relationship that will stand the tests the teen years bring. And I will still snuggle my son every opportunity I get. I will ALWAYS cheer the loudest at his games and try to restrain myself from hurting anyone who hurts him. I prayed so much for him during the years I tried to get pregnant, and I didn't stop when I had him. My prayers just changed from please to thank you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Will the Neighbors Think?

Today, I'm working on two important relationships: the one with my husband and the one with my mom. My marriage is very happy, but I think it's that way because we are always working to make it better. I'm reading The Respect Dare, a 40-day devotional to a deeper connection with God and your husband.

It has been fun and challenging, especially because I am reading it with a group of women, so we all share our experiences, thoughts, suggestions, and so forth. So along with the deeper connection with God and my husband, there's the bonus of deepening friendships with some amazing women.

But the other book I'm reading, Making Peace With Your Mom, isn't such a walk in the park. I think I've said about a million times that I have a good relationship with my mom, and what was that? I am not protesting even a little; I'm just saying. Wise guy. Anyway, you can always have a better relationship, right? Especially when your mom moves in with, and you realize, hey, how fun, she still does all those little things that drove you crazy when you lived with her AND MORE.

Anyway, I'll reiterate, I'm not going to complain about my mom. What I've realized from reading this book and delving into the exercises--it goes deep...uncomfortably deep...scraping the recesses of all you've repressed deep--is that my relationship with my mom is the basis for every other relationship in my life.

It was from her I learned to love and not love. It was from her I learned what was considered beautiful, acceptable, right, wrong, polite, rude, phony, religious, and God forbid ladylike. It was from watching her and my dad that I got my first glimpse of romance. My dad was a true romantic, but my mom was more like, "Just hand over the diamond, Jack; I don't care about your poem." My dad's name wasn't Jack; she was channeling her inner Si Robertson.

I learned some good stuff: girlfriends are important, babies need to be held, everyone looks better with a little lipstick on, and there is a pill for nearly anything that ails your body and mind. I learned some other stuff as well: words can hurt worse than fists, silence speaks volumes, never let anybody lay a finger on your kids, and who cares what the neighbors think?

In reading this book, my biggest lesson is that who my mom was in my memory isn't who she is now. I mean technically she is, but I'm not. Those memories have no power over me. I can journey back in my mind and reframe the experiences. I can choose to show my mom grace and kindness instead of allowing anger and pain to fester and turn into bitterness and resentment, I can go be the mom who loves and protects the little girl in the memory.

One of my favorite verses is Luke 6:37: Judge not, and you will not be judged; Condemn not, and you will not be condemned; Forgive, and you will be forgiven. I also think it's one of the most difficult to practice, but I keep trying.