Monday, November 12, 2007
My eldest is going to turn 14 next month. That means in just over a year he will be old enough to qualify for his driver's learning permit. This occurred to me just recently. Now, all of the sudden, he seems to have a girlfriend.
He is a tricky fellow, my little boy turned big. He is very smart and very cute, but very awkward. He talks too much. He is really negative and judgmental. He seems to want to dress all in black and kind of goth-metal. Which is fine, I did all of that stuff. But the issue has been that for months he has felt like he has no friends (which isn't true) and has been a bit mopey about it, yet at any opportunity I have provided for him to make new friends (and I have gone well out of my way to do so), he always hates the other kids.
Until now. A few weeks ago a new girl showed up at the homeschool writing class I teach. She is tall, like him, pretty like him, all goth and into vampires, like him, wears dark eyeliner, like him, a 13 year old Capricorn, like him. During the second class I noticed she threw notes to him throughout. Cute.
So they have spent some together since. And oddly, another thing they have in common is their upbringing. She, too, has a single, heavily tattooed, fringe-of-society kind of mom. She, too, has been living out on a very rural acreage with limited friends. She, too, has three big dogs, one of whom eats their chickens. She, too, has been homeschooled her entire life. So it all really makes sense.
Last night when I arrived to pick him up, there he sat on the couch with her, arms around each other, her head on his chest. A first. I am experiencing my own sense of shock. It feels a bit like the tornado winds of change have just blown through my life and my relationship with my son. Now he puts his arms around a girl and I wonder what will come next. (Well, I know what comes next, but when?) For the first time in his life, he ignores me and my adult conversations for his own teenage companion. An entirely new set of very adult issues is now a potential reality for his life, and mine. I want to reign him in, hold him close to me, tighter. I have worked so hard to protect him, but now I really do need to let him go and begin to figure out his own life (which it is) on his own.
I realize I am not the first person to ever go through this transition with their child, but our paradigm has been one of being so very enmeshed with each other, intentionally. Attachment style parenting is about allowing the incredibly powerful bond that exists between parent and child to truly flourish. It is about giving yourself, body and soul, to your child so that he knows that he is safe and loved. Through that gift he develops a strong sense of security, of self-worth, which allows him to explore his world with such secure back up that he can become strongly independent. Now he is. He has had wide open access to me for all his needs for so long, that it is a bit like getting the rug yanked out from under me to recognize how near he is to no longer needing that. Not yet, I know. Not today. But soon.
I am pleased that he is happy and enjoying himself. I have been giving him rides and dropping him off and allowing him to have free time with his friend. I have not been harassing him (too much) with questions about what they do together. And I know (unbeknownst to him) that this is just a beginning, the first in a long line of meetings that will gradually, over time shape how he gives and receives love, who he will love and what love will mean to him. And I know that this is a delicate and powerful process that will literally shape his life and will greatly impact his enjoyment of his life, his ability to be fulfilled in and out of relationships. I look around at all those around me broken by love and I realize why this feels so monumental. Because it is.
We are born to love, are creatures of love incarnate, and so many struggle with that all of their days. As I have since the first of his cells began replicating in my womb I want for him to live a joyous existence and thrive in every aspect of his life. The role that love plays in his life will touch every other part of his existence. And now at this crucial moment is when I must let go and give him up to this big world and to his own destiny. It sucks, quite honestly.
Yet now is when I look back on the last almost fourteen years of my sacrifices for his sake, of my loving him and his brother like nothing else mattered (because nothing else did), of my being there for him, and I can release him to life knowing that I have prepared in him a well-nourished soil for love to root strongly and survive even the most bitter of winters should he need to brave them, he and his warm heart full of all abiding love.