When it comes to raising kids, most every parent has a sweet spot. It's that period of time when things come naturally to us and we do them pretty well. Mine was the early years: babies, toddlers, elementary age. I loved when my boys cuddled and looked up at me with adoring eyes, when reading a book together was a treat and stopping to watch a crane at work was an all out adventure. Sure, there were melt downs and an abundance of patience was mandatory, but I could manage that and still maintain my sanity.
Now my sweet spot is in the rear view mirror and I'm heading straight into my sour spot. My "baby" just turned thirteen (How did that happen so fast?) and all too soon the time has come that he wants less of me and more of his friends and phone. I haven't seen that adoring look of yesteryear in quite some time and the closest thing to a cuddle is a hug, which all things considered, makes me grateful.
My "boy" is still a great kid, but he's not the same kid. He's growing up, changing, and that means I must change, too. It's no longer just life on my terms; I must also begin to accept some of his terms. It's not just me telling him what he needs to do and he marches off like a good little soldier. It's me letting him figure some of it out, even if it means he fails in the process. It's letting go of some of the control and letting him learn so he's ready for the pressures and trials of the remaining teen years ahead.
But the thing is, it's so freaking hard. I've been through it before and I know I'm not very good at this teenager thing. Nothing about it comes naturally to me. But as much as I want to resist it, experience has taught me that I must change along with him. In our own ways, we will both make mistakes, fail, figure it out, learn and grow. And hopefully this time around, I'll look back and say my sour spot was actually kind of sweet.
Happy birthday, my teenager. Through every stage, I love you.