Monday, April 14, 2008

Oh how things have changed

Just been rereading the blog here. I didn't realize I've been doing this for over a year now, and I had kind of forgotten just how frustrated I was getting with O there for a while. We went through about a year where things were not great. Not bad, really, but I felt we were just kind of disconnected and I didn't quite know what to do with him, and how to parent him.

As always, I have to worry non-stop about every little thing, am I doing the right thing? Is homeschooling still the right choice for him? etc etc etc... I couldn't figure out if things really needed working on, or he was just going through a transitional phase. And of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I knew that the disconnect and not-quite-working-out kind of phase we were in together wouldn't last, but I do have to have my worries.

Looking back over the last year, it's amazing to me just how much maturing O has done. Ok, he still thinks "Monkey Butter" is the funniest combination of words possible in the English language, but in many (non-monkey related) ways, he really seems so much more mature and composed.

I used to worry a lot (a common theme here, you'll see) that O was a little too malleable, that I could too easily sway him to hold my opinions or see things my way, and that I had to be really careful not to impose my own will on him too much. I worried that he could change his mind so quickly and easily, and I worried about how I could teach him more constancy. Cause, you know, I don't really have enough to do, so I have to find parental worries.

Of course, again, I should have realized that inner strength and constancy isn't something that is taught, but is learned (and I'm learning that this goes for just about everything else.) He's become so much his own person, so quickly. He argues with me, backs up his opinions, sometimes sways me (and no, we don't only debate stuff like the great Han Solo/Boba Fett debate.) It really amazes me lately how much he knows his own mind and his self and how confident he is in both, in both large and small ways.

It's such a bittersweet joy for me, though, watching him in the final phases of his childhood. I really liked, nay, profoundly loved, having a little kid in my life. As far as I'm concerned, there is no "bad age" and each enfolding step in his development was fascinating and joyous for me. Unlike almost all my friends apparently, I loved the 2's and 3's (most of my mom buddies would never go back to the toddler years for any amount of money), but I love how completely in the moment and engaged with the world 2yos are. How seeing a squirrel could give O such incredible joy, how a construction site was possibly the most exciting thing ever!

I never looked forward to a time when he wouldn't be completely dependent on me. I never looked forward to daycare or school as "time off." I deeply loved our hsing time spent tramping the river trail, looking for raccoon tracks and water birds. I never found playing pirate or space man boring. And I am soooo not ready for this to come to an end.

But O is not dependent on me anymore, not really. He even has a job and his own money. He knows how to cook, clean and do the basics of taking care of himself (better than many adults I know.) And I've been fighting this a bit, I think. But I'm finding that, once again, when I let go of my expectations and my wants, and just engage with O and enjoy him, that I'm finding a much more subtle joy in mothering a teen.

Because, as much as he's a pretty independent, pretty confident, pretty self-contained person, he still does need me, in new and more challenging ways. And while it's been frustrating to work out this process, it's a whole new aspect of parenting opening up to me, challenging me to learn how to be his mom. And I love nothing more on earth than that.

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