Confession: It’s summertime during a worldwide pandemic and I had no idea what to write for this blog post. It has been eating away at me this entire week. I cannot tell you how many times I stared at my blank screen, cursor judgmentally blinking away at me.
“You’ve got nothing interesting to say, Heather. You go to work, wait tables, change diapers, keep up with your weekly chore chart, school’s out and the kids go from video games to trampoline, to asking what’s for dinner, to eating anything but ground beef (it’s expensive right now!) for dinner, then it’s off to bed at 9 pm, where maybe they’ll go to sleep without asking for water, maybe you’ll take a bath, read, or watch something intriguing on Netflix for ten minutes before you pass out and one second later…it’s 6:30 AM and that same day begins again. No vacation for your family right now, there’s only so much you can say about your fifth round of Monopoly this week, so just drink your LaCroix and be quiet,” my cursor screams in my face.
Okay, okay, my computer isn’t that fancy, I actually just thought all of that aloud…but since quarantine brought out the crazy in the rest of the world, can we just pretend the cursor said that?
We can? Thank you!
As I sat suffering through my writer’s block (blogger’s block? Mama’s block?), my 15-year-old sat chatting away at the dining room table across from me. First, he excitedly discussed skateboarding and its “coolness,” but (and I feel terrible about this) I was so busy fighting the blinking cursor, I truly wasn’t listening. About halfway through his next topic, girls, he immediately had my full attention.
It wasn’t because of the girl subject (although I’m still not sure I’m ready for this dating business, especially right now), but because he was talking. TO ME!
The MOM me. The GIRL me.
I was in a state of shock for almost a full minute until I marveled at the fact that again, he was talking to me about everything that mattered to him RIGHT NOW.
How long had I wished for him to get out of his “moody puberty” phase and for him to confide in me like he had done as a little Batman-cape-wearing-7-year-old? Yet, here he was, high school freshman-turning-sophomore gabbing away and if I didn’t close the computer I was going to miss out on the moment. Seconds later, Eureka! My writer’s block had disappeared. I listened to the rest of his story and then asked him if I could “interview” him for this blog post (and because I am his mom and want to better understand his point-of-view) and I offered him the chance to be unfiltered with me, free of interruption, answering questions honestly just as if I was interviewing an adult in a professional atmosphere. To my surprise, his answer was a resounding, “Awesome!” and it was some great bonding time and a unique learning experience to know firsthand what it’s like to be in my son’s shoes at a time like this.
I’ll be the first to tell you (if you don’t know already) the teen years can certainly be some of the most frustrating years in motherhood. However, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be that age whenever we’ve had years of adulthood torn off the calendar. It would be difficult for me to re-imagine the worst part of teenage angst from a girl’s perspective but attempting to imagine what my son thinks and feels? Inconceivable! Thankfully, conversations are never a bad idea. They are the cure for almost any misconceptions and I am filled with a sense of peace (at least for the moment) as I type out our little interview:
What A Teenage Son Wants His Mom to Know:
1.) Being a teenager isn’t easy.
“You have all of these expectations. School has them for you. Your friends have them for you. You have them at home. Sometimes I don’t know if it’s my hormones but I feel like I need to be in one thousand places at once and that I’m going to upset someone. Sometimes your parents and teachers expect you to be like them when you try and can’t do it, it just feels like more confusion. Sometimes I can’t wait to grow up because I feel like I’ll have more freedom, but then I see you struggling or stressed and I just don’t know if I’m ready to be an adult and that can you make feel like you’re stuck in the twilight zone.”
2.) Adults may not think the Pandemic stresses us out, but we are stressed, too.
“At first, I thought being at home and not at school would be cool. I wouldn’t have homework or you asking me about it all of the time. But, I miss my friends. I miss my teachers. My friends were upset that some of them had to miss their proms, some of us wait our whole lives for the ‘high school moments’ like that and it was just taken from us all of a sudden and the not knowing when we will get them back leaves us with FOMO. Parks are closed, we have to wear masks everywhere. I feel like I want to go everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I watch my family have anxiety about things like the cost of groceries and what’s safe and it gives me anxiety and I can’t wait until we are safe again.”
3.) We Pay Attention to What’s Happening in the World.
“This friend I know said we had to unfollow her if we didn’t vote for who her parents want to vote for and we can’t even vote because we are only fifteen. When did teenagers start paying attention to politics? Do we have to start doing this? Why can’t we be friends? It just seems like everyone is fighting, I feel something in the air. I just don’t want to get on Instagram every day and have to take breaks from that sometimes because I don’t understand it.”
4.) Teens Want to be Heard.
“We know we don’t know everything but parents like to jump to conclusions. We want to feel like we can have feelings about the things around us. If we can’t talk about it to our parents, who can we talk to while we are stuck at home? I always feel like you tell me the truth and that makes me want to tell you the truth.”
5.) Sometimes We Just Need Our Space to Make Mistakes, But We Still Love You.
“When I break the rules, I expect you to be mad or upset. It’s weird, but sometimes I like to be in trouble if I do something wrong, because I don’t have to think about it. I know I hear you talk about mistakes you’ve made and that you don’t want to see me make the same mistakes but I need you to trust me. I’m probably not going to. I just don’t want you to fix everything for me. Don’t worry, I’ll still call you when I move out in my 20’s and even though I’m getting older, I’ll always love you and need you in my life.”