The Gifts of Teenagers

As my kids have grown into teenagers and young adults, I realize the joy I experience when having meaningful and in-depth conversations with them- I marvel at how these same people, who I sometimes still see through the lens of early motherhood ( you know, that they are still little humans who need me to wipe their tushies), are truly their own people with their own views and critical thinking skills and abilities to communicate and to engage in healthy debates.

After a 2 hour conversation covering numerous important and meaningful topics – no topic off-limits- with my son yesterday, I fully experienced the magic of seeing him as the young man he is becoming. The honesty and ability he has to clearly express himself and his thoughts and feelings, the research he does to make sense of humanity and to figure out for himself all of the different perspectives that resonate with his innate sense of logic and kindness, hearing his internal processes that guide him to make informed decisions about his belief/value system, and his willingness to listen and express curiosity is truly heartwarming and melts my soul.

The cognitive dissonance that I am continually making space for and accepting is that he is still my “baby” AND he is absolutely his own individual person separate from me. ( And smarter than me in many ways)…It’s that push/pull inside of wanting to hold on and knowing I have to let go- there is a song ( can’t remember who sings it) about holding on loosely. And that is the place that is hard and makes me happy all at the same time. And that is what my young mom self could never begin to imagine- even though I knew intellectually that obviously my kids would grow up. But knowing this and living out this experience is different. It’s a good weird.

Just like pretty much everything in life that continually changes. And changes again. Every relationship- especially our relationship with our own selves.

I have always seen my kids as my greatest mirrors and teachers. Parenting has a tendency to really shed light on who you are and where you need to be intentional on how you need to grow and stretch as a human to role model and practice embodying your highest self. This is a challenge- all the time! And the privilege I have to be their mom – words cannot even express or do justice to this gift.

So I will be intentionally practicing holding on loosely to my baby who is actually no longer a baby and hasn’t been in many years. I am already looking forward to all of our conversations yet to come about ALL the things-hearing his perspectives and experiences with that sense of wonderment that warms me. So maybe by the time he leaves for college in just a couple of years I will feel more comfortable and ready ( like I really have a choice…) And I will also firmly grip all of the memories of raising him, every phase, as I allow myself to enter into this shifting space of motherhood.

So may we all give ourselves ongoing permission to hold on loosely to whatever it is that we find ourselves firmly gripping. And the self-compassion when we find it so difficult to do so.

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