With my oldest son’s 13th birthday right around the corner, I have been reminiscing about the past 13 years. He is my firstborn, my first little love…my Valentine’s baby. He was always the sweetest little boy, tender hearted, adventurous, curious, funny, caring.
As parents, we are to teach our children about life, the world, others, themselves; but I will tell you, my son has taught me so many lessons in his 13 years. Being a parent is truly the hardest “job” ever. But my guy has made it pretty easy. Our relationship has always been close, a bond like no other. Every day I learn something new, as we navigate these upcoming teen years together. In honor of my son’s 13th birthday, here are:
10 Things My Teen Son Has Taught Me
1) Slow down, mom
I, like many of us, have a very difficult time slowing down. I can go and go and just bounce from one thing to another. I get in a robot-like mode. My teen son is not one to be in a rush. About anything. I find this quite frustrating at times. After getting mad and saying the same thing over and over, I took a step back and started to think, why was I rushing so much? Was it that big of a deal? For the most part, it was not. So just stop, slow down, live in THAT moment.
2) Not everything is a big deal
This seems like Parenting 101, I know, but sometimes we need reminders. I tend to get overwhelmed and overworked about things. I try and control every little thing I can. So after watching the way my teen reacts and at times simply does not react, I’m realizing I can do the same. There is something to be learned from that easy-going attitude. “Just chill, mom,” my guy tells me. He has a point; I need to listen.
3) Appreciate the simple things in life
My guy has always been so simple with his wants, needs, food he chooses, everything. He never requests anything that’s fancy or over the top. Watching him since he was little be that same boy that just took what he got and never threw a fit about it…there is something to be learned from that. May we all appreciate the simple things in life. No matter how big or small, it is the simple things that mean the most.
4) Wear what you want
This one is pretty funny to me. Middle school can be rough. Not just socially or educationally, but also regarding what you wear. This has been a huge thing. Apparently it does not matter what you wear. Wear what you want. Who cares if it is the same hoodie three days in a row or if you refuse a haircut? You do you. Be confident in whatever you choose. Yet I think most of us dress to a certain standard that is somewhere on the “normal spectrum” of clothing choices.
Middle schoolers are different. They are confident and have newly formed opinions and ideas regarding themselves. I look back and think about all the button-down polo shirts I would always dress my son in and now he only wears Vans and clothes from Zumie’s. Who would have thought? I tell you, as a parent, let them be themselves. Let them find themselves and their confidence.
5) Be you
My teen has taught me a greater confidence in being myself with no apologies needed. He is unapologetically himself, every day, regardless of who he is around. As the years have gone by, about the only thing that has changed has been his clothing choices. Now he chooses them, not momma. This was not easy. I have had different choices than him, but it is important as we enter this next phase in parenting that I allow him to be himself. Of course I will always see that sweet wide-eyed three-yea- old in a Toy Story hat with matching backpack and sandals, but he is changing. Children love us and see us just as we are. Let us accept them just as they are.
6) Listen more, criticize less
This has been a huge one for me. I have a tendency to listen, then give automatic opinions. I know, shame on me. I am a talker, straight to the point and way too direct with my approach at times. My teen son has taught me to chill. Sometimes he doesn’t need advice or an opinion or for me to get involved. He just needs me at that moment to listen and to be there, most often with a hug included. I thank my son for teaching me this. Like most moms, we think, “Oh, they need me to fix this!” But really, they just need us there. Just listen.
7) Forgive and forget
Over the years, I have made many mistakes along my parenting journey. Kids are resilient. Much more so than adults. My children, my teen son especially, have taught me to be resilient, how to forgive, and how to forget.
8) Laugh a lot
This is something both my son and I have taught each other. In life, things will not always go as planned. No matter how big or small, remember to laugh, and to laugh a lot. I always thought I laughed a lot but my teen son is a laugher. When he was little and even now, he is a laugher. He is one to find humor and a silver lining even when something might seem impossible. Because of him, I smile and I remember to laugh through it all.
9) It’s okay to cry
Ever since I was pregnant with my oldest, I knew I had to be strong. Through my difficult days, I had to be a pillar of strength. I never wanted to show my tears. My son, my boy, taught me it is okay to be emotional. It is okay to cry. He can tear up quicker than anything. He has such a tender heart that feels deeply, so his eyes can drop a tear in a second. Just in as quick as he can to tear, he is even quicker to smile. Crying means you felt deeply; it meant something to you. It does not make you weak; it means you are strong.
10) I am enough
My boy has seen me at my best and at my worst. Through all the times I did not think I was enough or had enough, my baby boy was there to always remind me that I AM ENOUGH. The unconditional love between a mother and her son is one like no other. Thank you for reminding me that I AM ENOUGH.
As my oldest turns 13, I look back on all he has taught me. Sure there were things I mimicked and taught him, but overall, he has been the one to teach me. As exciting as the next chapter is, my heart will always long for that little boy who needed me in every way, who I could carry around and just talk to like little buddies. Such precious memories. I love my precious Valentine’s boy, my firstborn, my Tristan.