I have been a parent for more than 14 years now, but in some ways, I feel like I am still learning something new each day.
Some days I go to bed feeling good about my kids – 14 and 12 — and where they are in their respective lives. I am especially content when the 14-year-old kid is asleep in his bed from summer exhaustion. Other days, I do go to bed riddled with anxiety about what’s happening with one or both of them.
Whenever I am feeling stressed about this or that related to my kids, I take comfort in knowing none of my concerns are health related. Though Carson has health concerns, all of them are under control and the prognosis positive. There are many families in our communities with children facing serious health problems, and I pray for peace for them because it must be gut wrenching. I know the stuff that gives me stress with my boys’ pales in comparison to what they face in their journeys.
Nonetheless, everyone has daily stuff to deal with when it comes to their kids. The seriousness depends on the household and the age of the kid(s) and vary from day to day.
On my home front, the worries are never ending with our special needs son. These are lifelong concerns that put the focus on managing daily life. To dive deep each day into what the future looks like for him is overwhelming. It’s best for us to keep him on a good daily track and time and perspective will take care of the rest. At least, that’s our present train of thought.
With our 14-year-old, we are bobbing and weaving. Some days he comes home from work exhausted and is asleep by 10 p.m. Other days he stays up all hours of the night talking to friends, resulting in zombie-like tendencies the next day.
With my teenage son, I have been naïve about a few things, namely how uncool I would be to him. I thought he and I would always be close, and the father-son dynamic would also include a friendship and bond. While I feel confident this will eventually happen, the current state of our relationship seems to be more about keeping him on course and raising a good human. He’s stubborn and headstrong. It’s tough work because he seems to prefer learning things the hard way rather than heeding advice from his parents who have learned a lot in our lives. This aspect of his personality is difficult for me to accept.
If I see him approaching something in an unproductive fashion, I point out what may happen if he doesn’t alter his thought process. When I observe first-hand foolishness or misjudgments, I try and inform him what the result might be of his lunacy. Though his reactions come across disrespectful, I am constantly reminding myself he currently learns through real life experiences rather than absorbing constructive advice. It’s an unfortunate reality.
“You don’t have to worry so much” was a comment he said one night on the drive home from his work in Ocean City. When he got off work on the Boardwalk at 9 p.m., he asked if could hang with a few friends who were nearby. I said it was fine because I didn’t have to work the next day and people watching on the Boardwalk entertains me.
After about 30 minutes, he came back, saying his friends had already left. I annoyed him by asking a few questions about what he had been doing aside from eating the bucket of Thrasher’s Fries we were about to be sharing. I touched a nerve evidently. He asked why his mom and me must know everything and why we worry so much about what he’s doing and specifically who he is with.
Now, I have apologized a few times to my son for some things I have said or actions taken that I regret. I tell him to “charge it to my head, not my heart,” because I just want the best for him and being safe and healthy is a big part of it. However, I will not apologize for worrying.
Before becoming a parent, I had no idea I’d worry like this. I stress over the consequences of a poor decision he will make that I cannot quickly undo. There is worry over peer pressure clouding better judgment. The hope his feeling of invincibility will not result in a major issue. I pray his good heart will always win and result in best judgment and honest understanding. I know it will not always happen because it has not already, and it gives me pause. I want the life lessons to come but not with too much of a price. It’s impossible to not fret over things out of our control. He has been raised with the best intentions, but it might not always be enough. It’s seems a certainty it won’t be.
He gets annoyed at being micromanaged. I get it. I’m sure it’s aggravating. I probably felt the same way at his age. It’s just a parent’s perspective tells us so much more than he knows. He says he knows, but he won’t show us the patience we need to slowly let go and let him spread his wings in life. He doesn’t understand a parent’s love. It’s understandable because he’s not one yet, but one day he will get it. I hope he remembers because the worrying is directly tied to love. He will know one day.
In the meantime, instead of holding on with both hands, I am learning to do it with one hand. I feel like sometimes I just need to turn my head a bit more, but it’s more difficult than I ever imagined.