Growing Up

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I always thought I'd be a great Mom. I love kids, and I was the kind of kid myself who challenged the rules and made enough of my own mistakes to have gathered, I believed, useful insight into the business of growing up. I was prepared. I had no fear.

Then, along came adolescence.

Somehow, within the same three month period, my 12 and 13 year old sons became edgy strangers, shrugging off my hugs and rolling their eyes with every imagined provocation. Their communication skills morphed into a combination of grunting and the rapped lyrics of Ludacris. They were sucked into the hyper-sphere of electronics as the heat of their near-manhood cranked up to tropical levels. They confronted. They withdrew. And I knew...

This was it. The start of the long trek to separation. They were taking their first lurching steps toward independence. And I didn't like it.

Feeling jilted, I circled my sons loosely, trying to decipher their codes and interests, praying for a breakthrough that would bring me back to the days of curling up on a beanbag and reading Tim Green together.


It was pathetic. It didn't work. I was now peripheral. I had to adjust. Tired and worried about the dark places my beloved boys were potentially skirting, I went to their room and sunk to the floor. They were attached to the umbilical controllers of their X-box. I exhaled. Loudly.

"I've always known how to fix things with you guys," I began, feeling my eyes go bleary. "If something went wrong or you got hurt, I could hold you and make everything OK. Now, I'm not even sure how to talk to you sometimes, how to say the right things in the right way. I don't know how to BE with you anymore."

I looked at my sons. Their fingers had stopped moving and they looked back at me with faces I remembered -- smooth-cheeked, big-eyed, open. Then they both got up and came over to my spot on the floor. They wrapped their arms around me, and in my head I could see them walking out the door.

"It's OK, Mama," my older son said. "We'll always love you."

With a Perspective, I'm Susan Dix Lyons.