If you’ve never been hated by your child, you’ve never been a parent.” ― Bette Davis
The day has finally come when I let go of my once little boy now young adult as he leaves. My 18year old is leaving for University, how time flies, just yesterday he was 11years old and I was so excited that he was going to BIG school. Alas, just a few weeks down the road felt equally overwhelmed by the changes in his behaviour that came with it and suddenly I realised that he was no longer that little person who believed everything I said as pure gospel. I have come to appreciate this period as the dreaded “year 7 dilemmas”- a few parents (England residents) have shared a noticeably different child in their own kids when they transitioned into secondary school. Ahh, good times.
Today just a few more years later, my once little boy is flying away, thank goodness not forever at least but for longer intervals than ever before. I marvel upon the fact that nothing ever prepared me for his teenage years! I didn’t realise they would spun from little boy starting secondary school to a Young man going off to University- just short 6 years but it surely feels like a lifetime. Not even those sweet moments playing in the park with him as a toddler or days spent comforting his bruised ego when he got dumped the first time or when he got his confidence clipped by what unkind kids said about his hair or skin. You are never ready to be a mother to a teenager regardless of how many times you bandage those scrapped little knees after falling off their bike or explaining in embarrassment where babies come from when they randomly asked you while getting them dressed for school as a toddler.
I must add even having worked with hundreds of teenagers in my role as a social worker never came close to getting me ready for my own. Don’t get me wrong he was never an impossible child at all. He gave me loads of laughter, joy and gladness but a lot of tears too when I just couldn’t figure out how I could possibly correct some of the behaviours without damaging him for life. I wanted to remain a firm but kind parent, serious but fun at the same time. Although I wanted to provide for his every need and more, I also wished to prepare him for life and not spoil him. I quickly realised striking this balance was pretty difficult cause as parents we overlook the fact that they are external factors such as friends and peer pressure to put a spin at every turn and messing our every well organised parenting plans. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. I quickly realised that being a parent of a teenager was like being a firefighter- you found yourself thrust into dangerous situations you did not create in order to rescue a life. At times it was all about damage control.
My little man tried harder than most I know. I know he did not find it easy integrating into a different culture having been born and spent his early years in another totally different one. He did suffer from culture shock no doubt, all migrants we do to some extent. It was never easy for him having an African mum who had also read The Battle hymn of The Tiger mother book by Amy Achua! I was determined early never to drop the ball and be held culpable of him amounting to nothing- no matter how much he resisted it.
As I stood firm with my ideas instilling boundaries after all that’s what experts say give a structured life to a child- right, the more I realised I had my work cut out as he pushed and tested them with my every effort. It consumed me to get it right with him and it became my mantra to shape him into a filly fledged gentleman and I so pray he sees it that way now, I know at the time he didn’t. Funny though I think I did do something right along the way cause he has turned out to be this handsome, amazing cook, gentle soul who touches every person he encounters with his culturedness and kind acts. All people he gets to interact with at work or play within our culture confides or community at large think he is golden and those who know him as being my son make it a point to tell me so which makes this African mum’s heart swell every time.
So, this weekend will I have enough courage to let go of my little man as he further separates from me. I am acutely aware that the next time he comes back home he will be acting more like a guest hopefully never like a stranger. I so hope that he continues to charm the socks off all strangers he meets as he has always managed to so that life treat him a little kinder and make his falls softer as he will have created a lot of cushions around him in wonderful people he will have surrounded himself with.
I definitely know I will need to be more courageous to trust the process and the universe that my baby boy will make it out there and continue to make my heart swell as he forges ahead in the world.
Oops, life is being funny right now. Just when I thought my son will be starting Uni this coming week, life dealt us another blow and his student finance fell through just this morning-literally the 11th hour!😢We are going back to the drawing board. Although my gorgeous son is taking it ever gracefully, I was in pieces and beside myself when he broke the news to me following receiving the fateful email. He certainly has guts in bucketloads and resilience I lack right now.
Hope is merely disappointment deferred.W.Burton Baldry
PS. I did try to publish this post last night- but my laptop wouldn’t connect to the network at the B&B we slept last night.