Oh.. that face I love. It still gets me—every time. All those years locked behind the blue eyes and long lashes. Years I can see and remember. Years that he wishes I would forget. But I can’t. I can’t. And that’s why it hurts.. because I have to let go.. and pretend the years don’t matter.. at least for now.
He’s a teenager full of angst and questions. Rebellion and hormones. He stumbles and pushes. Softens and stiffens. I’ve been through this a few times before but still struggle to make sense of it. I could be an award-winning actress.. my heart is on my sleeve, outside my body, vulnerable and aching. But I’m the only one who knows it. And he doesn’t care. Not really.
He can’t. He’s individuating. And I care more than ever. The paradox is strangling, devoid of any sense. But there it is—yet again. The dichotomy that is adolescence—one moment everything he was as a child, the next, someone I’ve never met. And I am expected to be the adult—in control, solid, ready with a firm hand and a loving heart. I am tangled and torn, weary and raw. My love for this child is swallowing me up. And the irony is I can’t allow that. I must individuate, too.. if I want to keep him in my life.
I don’t like this. The older I get.. the more I know what’s at stake for him. But he gets to choose. And I get to watch.
Only, it occurs to me, yet again, that watching isn’t all I must do. I have to continue to live, work, play and grow.. no matter how much his decisions and developing attitudes worry me. I cannot afford to succumb to paralyzing fear. I’ve given into this before and I know it’s not the answer.
Peace.. the only real peace, comes from pursuing my own life–fully, and without reservation. The years of child bearing are over.. and the few years left of child rearing are fading fast. My life waits.. while I grieve over lost childhood that is rightfully over.. but painfully gone. The future calls to both of us. Oh, how I want his to be happy.. but I can’t make it for him.
He is not that child anymore—he is a young man.. and while finding his own way, makes some good decisions along with the shaky ones. He is smarter than I stop to think he is. My first instinct is to question him. I need to stop this. At least most of it. He gets to choose. He gets to choose. He will make decisions I won’t be happy with. That is certain.
So.. maybe, even though his childhood is lost to me, for good.. my future and his, are found. I just have to let it be whatever it’s going to be for him.. and be around to help with any rubble he might want me to assist with.
Oh.. the letting go is like extracting my heart and throwing it onto a soccer field.. and letting it be booted around until he decides to kick it into the net. It’s the passing from one set of cleats to another that knocks the fight out of me. Where will it end up today? Can’t we just land somewhere?
No. Not yet. It’s not time. And besides.. part of what I have to do is find a way for my heart to be more of a spectator than a participant. That freakishly unbreakable mother-love is always there. And while he grows into whoever he’s going to become, I have to do the same.
Childhood lost—both of our futures found. But oh.. the ache, the longing, the worry.. and yes, the hope. Always the hope.
4 thoughts on “Childhood Lost”
Are you TRULY happy?
While parenthood brings the most exquisite pain, it also provides some of the greatest joy. So, even though the ruminations about my children are intense, the paradox is the profound happiness that can be found in these relationships. To be truly happy one needs to get outside of him/herself. That potential lies inside me.. and I taste it often. The short answer? Yes.. despite occasional grinding moments.. I am truly happy! Thanks for asking 🙂
Wow. Christi just directed me to your site and I’m so glad! Your writing really speaks to my soul. I have two daughters on the brink of “leaving” me and, my goodness, is this ever tough. One is in her first year of college, the other a sophomore in high school. Letting go gracefully is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Your “mom stuff” has really put quite a bit into perspective for me. So, it really IS ok for me to live my own life? Whatever it may eventually be, that is.
It really IS ‘normal’ for me to kick myself everytime I’ve forgotten to say something other than, “Be safe!!!”.
Your insight is just wonderful. Thank you for writing.
Marcella.. thanks for your comment! It means so much when someone can relate to what I say.. and it sounds like you do!
I’ve never been good at letting go of my children.. and a lot of my writing reflects that.. but I think there’s really, truly life on the other side. We just have to believe it. I also think our adult relationships with children can be sweet.. after we’ve backed away a little 🙂
Thank you for reading!