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February 16, 2019

Navigating Through The Pre-teen Years…

I have always known a mother is important but I have never known just how deep that bond can be until I lost my own mother. A much older friend once shared an incident that keeps ringing in my mind. Her own mother died while in her 90s and she was devastated. A well meaning friend, trying to encourage her, told her “at least she was in her 90s and you are old enough”. My friend was aghast. “You are never too old to miss a mother,” she responded.

How true, there is no age that makes it okay for your mother to die. My mom and I have had a pretty nice relationship but like any other relationship it had its moments. In my teenage years we never seemed to see eye to eye. We quarreled over everything. At 13 I thought I was old enough to date and went ahead and got a boyfriend. My mom went ballistic. In retrospect I can see why, but at the time I was upset that she did not trust me enough to believe that I could make good decisions.

My mother tried everything to stop the relationship including grounding, spanking, yelling, talking and counselling. She must have been a seriously praying woman because eventually the relationship fizzled. The relationship was pretty innocent anyway, just someone to send me cards and photos that I would use to show off to my friends. He was really just a glorified friend and handsome to boot. We remain good friends. I shudder to imagine what would have been if this was an unscrupulous young man out to take advantage of a naive little girl trying to be all grown up.

To the rest of my clan, that relationship marked me as a rebel and I was fodder for their gossip mill. I was a child in the verge of adulthood trying to find my place in this world. My mom understood that and though we did not always agree on my mode of expression, she spent hours talking with me and no doubt praying and thanks to her I turned out okay, actually better than okay, a pastor.

TJ is turning 11 not far from where I was when I first began to try and spread my wings. He has all the classic pre-teen symptoms including the occasional slamming of doors and sulking. To be real, it’s driving me insane. Yet my mom set a standard for me that I try to adhere to - freedom within limits and love without limits.

No doubt, just like her I will err in finding the balance but that is okay, I have never walked this path before. Both of us will grow through this experience and it will be just another colourful page in our journey together. I am realising now that at the end of the day, the only real thing my children will have after I am gone is the fond memories and the overwhelming sense of love that I had for them. The rest will be lost in the details.

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