Monday, February 9, 2015

I am Not my Son's BFFL

I recently had a Facebook status that read; "Great mom moment. Tuesday afternoon, Mason, who is 16, comes home from school and says with a big smile, "Mom, hey you know you are my BFFL." I said, "Isn't that best friend for life?". He smiled again and said, "Yup." Made my year.

I received heaps of likes and lots of nice comments on that status. I suggested that maybe I should expand it to a blog post, so here I am.

I was poised to write a testimonial about the exchange, and wax lyrical about this great moment in momdom, blah, blah, blah.....and then it occurred to me that I needed some follow up and clarification first, so I went back to the source, Mason, my 16 year old son.

I asked him, "Remember when you came home and told me that I am your BFFL?"
He said, "Yeah..."
I said, "Did you mean it?"
Then his reply. First it sank my ship a bit, but as I considered it, I loved it, I loved it so much!
He said, "Mom, I was kind of joking you know. I would rather hang out with my friends, but I like that when I come home from school that you are here. You make good food, and you make home, homey."

I love this, because, as I thought about it, it is really a good thing that I am not Mason's, or any of my kid's BFFL. The relationship between a parent and child should not be the same as the relationship between a child and their peer circle. As his mother I am responsible for nurturing him, providing him a safe haven, giving him support, I also provide structure, guidance, and discipline. I have to hold some specific boundaries as a mother that can't get tangled up in trying to be a friend.

Mason has ADD and so he has struggled for years to stay focused and get tasks done in school. This is coupled with his high intelligence and occasional attitude of superiority.A typical scenario at home with Mason goes something like this; "Why do you have three zeros in English class?", his usual responses are; " I don't know.", "The assignment was boring and stupid." or "I lost it.".

Sometimes these exchanges escalate to raised voices and often include Mason saying, "I hate you!", and then stomping off and slamming a door. Dealing with his ADD and his tendency to be anxious, and, at different points in his childhood, sometimes quite explosive and hurting/hurtful has been challenging on every level.

I have not always dealt with these issues, in heated moments, the way I would like to. I have lost my cool, I have yelled, I have cried, I have thrown my hands up in despair, I have felt like giving up, but I never have. I have never given up. I love Mason, and his sisters without fail. I tell my kids I love them every day, on the good days, the bad days, the ugly days.

I have gotten help. It does take a village, and sometimes mom (me) is not the best person for the job. Mason currently has an academic coach, a psychologist, a math tutor, a kung fu teacher, plus his school staff, who hear from me on a very regular basis. I have no desire to try to be "super" mom, singlehandedly running this whole show. No, kids need support from diverse sources and each kid is unique. I think the key is to see them, to pay close attention to who they are, and then also see the ways to help them in their becoming.

My role is mom, and I am dedicated, consistent, relentless in my love and care. I am not, however, interested in dictating to them "who" they should be. I am here to love them no matter who they choose to become. Stephen and I have not force fed anything to our kids about their unique identities. We encourage them to try different things, we support them in those explorations, whether it is music, sports, art, science, anything. We want them to seek out their passions and find things that light them up and bring them a sense of joy in self. I want them to know they have a right to be exactly who they feel called to be, and that family is a given, a rock, a sure thing. I am also here to show them what is right and wrong, to set limits and teach lessons about responsibility and accountability, which means I am not, can't be, a friend, in the strict sense of the word.

We mothers are so much more than friends to our children. We are called to a most sacred vocation. We are the guardians of precious innocents, charged with their safety and shelter. We are trusted guides, a light always on, reliable, steadfast, fierce protectors, boundary holders, torch bearers, nurturers and disciplinarians, most of all keepers of love in the family. We are also human and we won't do it perfectly, not even close, but it is the love that counts. It is the love that lasts. Not all who give birth will be true mothers, and there are many who will be mothers in their own right, creating bonds beyond blood, in a call to service and a larger kinship.

I am grateful that my son, at 16 years of age, feels he can kid around with me, tell me the honest truth when asked, most of all, I am so glad to be his mom and make his home homey. I am thankful for this family, we are here for each other, we love each other, no matter what may come.

I am not his BFFL, best friend for life. I am his mom for life, that is all I hoped to be.