It’s become very obvious my child is growing up much faster than I would like. Or to be more clear, he’s growing up faster than I am able to mentally prepare for.
This adolescence stuff is damn challenging.
He started it last summer, where his pediatrician said, “Well, he’s in the midst of puberty.” I smiled to myself and nodded heartily, as yes, he was. He’s grown about 6 inches this past year. His voice has dropped 19 octaves and his appetite is out of control. Welcome to almost 12 years old.
I want to congratulate myself for getting him this far without doing any major damage. (Yay!) But I know I’m in a not so sturdy spot as I am not well prepared for this transition. (Whoops!) Top that with the Asperger’s component, and well, it’s not a well spoken about subject. I’m doing a lot of research.
I’m doing a bunch of personal reflection, too. I recall my younger days and going through the same change. It was so awkward and tinged with shame. I recall the day I got my period and that night my mother walked in the door with a brown paper bag full of maxi pads and announced to the house, “You’re a woman now.” I was 10 years old, by the way. I was ushered into the bathroom with three other female adults. I sat over the toilet with my underpants near my knees, getting instructions on how to use a maxi pad. I wish I made that story up. Awkward.
The sex talk I had with my mother at around age 14 was down right awful. Her advice? “Sex is dirty. Men are only after one thing. Wait until marriage.” That’s all I got. I couldn’t ask my older siblings, as they both got pregnant or got someone else pregnant early and they didn’t wait until marriage, so I knew that advice was a little faulty. I would never ask my father. I had to find out through friends what the heck was up.
So…I said to myself that if and when I had children, that I would make sure that their experience wouldn’t be shameful or awkward, or at least significantly less than what I went through.
And the talks have commenced. It’s never at a convenient time or place. For me it was as I was walking to my car after work and my son says, “Mom, I need to tell you something.” I could tell by the tone of his voice that it was serious. I asked, “Is this something I need to sit down for?” He started to tell me something he said he had been hiding from me and he wanted to be honest. One thing that I always have stressed with him is that being honest is always the best route, even if it is the more painful route.
Ho boy, he was honest.
I responded calmly with understanding and grace. He responded with calmness and a clarity I never thought he could muster independently. He was so articulate and raw, but with a genuine understanding of what he was saying. I was so very proud of him. I was also honored that I was the first person he told and that he was comfortable enough to talk to me anyway. Because, well, you know…I’m his MOM.
This is just the first step in many steps up this hill of being a teenager. I know that it won’t be easy and will progressively become more difficult to navigate. I do know that we have a very strong bond between us and that we can sail through any storm.