Adulting is a real pain in my neck. Really, a pain in my ass, but neck works too because you use your neck for so much more. I digress. Growing up and evolving into an adult, learning the hard knocks of life, understanding who I am as a human, person, and being in this world and then learning the ways of the world has been a struggle. If memory serves I was very anxious to grow up when I was a child, as if growing up was my spiteful way of getting back at my parents. Boy, did I get that idea all wrong. What I wish I knew then is that growing up is hard to do; if I could tell my younger self anything, the one tidbit that is gold is that becoming an adult was a real son of a gun.Today, I do not think much about my time as a kid until my children cause me to find constant reflection. So much heartbreak in reliving my childhood which was a struggle, as were my young adult years and into my 20s. My 30s I found that I have learned better coping skills and not as much affects me, a side affect of getting older I suppose. Watching my children grow up is even more painful. Bearing witness to their struggles, challenges and even triumphs. What is most painful is my tenderhearted G coming into his own as a young person slash teen slash young adult.
Watching my boy experience what I can only explain to be a black hole scenario. Swirling, coupled with an enormous amount of gravitational pull into a void of unknown. Basically, raging hormones and movement while dealing with feelings and emotions and urges and impulses not previously known and not understanding what they are and or what is going on.
One Sunday evening I watched him struggle with the pains of growing older. Expectations of performance and the inability to be perfect at everything. Beating himself up over his less than perfect results with something he is highly skilled at performing and conducting. I watched him beat himself up, worry to the point of anxiety, then dive into that pool of anxiety that nearly crippled him emotionally and physically. My sweet tender heart who so badly wants to win at everything, because as humans this is what we inherently want to do is win, but falling short and failing to allow for the inexplicable beauty of grace.
The Chad talked to him at great length when the boy fired off a defiant retort to his father. One that made me giggle wildly, his brazen and bold remark is uncharacteristic for his mild, gentle temperament, and was so reflective of his mother. I smiled to myself and then stood on the outside of the conversation, listening, watching him interact with his father, standing stoic in my love of this child not interrupting. Waiting until the morning, I spoke with G at length before school. The quiet yet chaotic morning offered this time to talk with him about someone who knows all too well about growing up, struggling to find the words and not truly understanding feelings.
He wrestled with failure at that moment. He writhed in the fact that he was struggling to understand his feelings, his emotions and what was going on. I could feel my eyelids swell and burn with tears that I would not let fall as I watched this young man feel the struggles of life. Hugging him while he sobbed quietly into my shoulder I let him know that it is okay. Life is okay. Failure, struggle, and frustration are okay and part of what he is experiencing with puberty and an accelerated course that was two years his senior. Reassuring him that his grade, 79% was good and nothing he was failing at in his class. Explaining my theory on grades, “A” being too easy and requiring little effort, “B” being challenged or maybe exerting little effort, “C” meaning a great challenge or not exerting any effort to care but enough to suffice and you can assume the rest. The definition seemed to put him at a bit of ease.
As I continued to address all that was troubling him we discussed puberty. Laughingly I reminded him I was a kid once and a teenager and a teenage girl. While I may not be a boy, I knew what a struggle this time in life was and I hated sixth grade, my teacher was a wicked beast who offered no grace to a girl who struggled with acne, periods, divorcing parents and the emotional turmoil of puberty. Sharing that talking to my parents didn’t happen, we didn’t know how to communicate and I didn’t know how to communicate. Such a blessing that I learned this important tool, I learned to recognize feelings and emotions and how they affected me physically, understanding the signs and sharing with G this valuable information.
He became more at ease and he talked through his struggles, overcame his upset. Listening intently as my eyes still burned with tears and offering him all I could, which was to tell him how proud I am. How he should not worry so much about getting straight “A”s. How he should not burden his struggles alone. I told him that growing up sucks and is hard to do, as he dove back into my shoulder.
I explained to him that growing up is hard to do as a teenager. He asked me if life gets any easier, or easier once you are an adult and past being a teenager. While a part of me wanted to tell him yes, I couldn’t bare the thought of lying and told him that life sucks worse as an adult and as a parent. I let the dam break as tears rolled down my cheeks. Life as a parent feels worse when you watch helplessly as your child struggles during this time and all you can do it love on them. I told him how I feel helpless, how I struggle with upset to have him not endure this part of life, that the best I can do is offer my help, my existence to be there for him, to love on him, to support and still feel as if my servitude is not enough. As he hugged me tighter, telling me he loved me and that I am an awesome mom, I knew in that moments I could not have done anything more or asked for someone to grow up with; because growing up is hard to do.