Monday, April 20, 2015

How Bad Is It?

This week out of the blue my son ran to his room upset about something. He wasn't public about it. I just happened to notice something was wrong. I followed him to his room to ask him what was wrong.



"It's nothing," he told me; but he was clearly upset and because he was upset I was upset.

"It can't be nothing, sweetheart. I can tell something's bothering you," I encouraged.

"I just want to be left alone," he persisted.

And so we sat for a time, with me prodding and encouraging him to share what was on his mind. And he insisting that he wanted to be alone and that it was nothing. No amount of coercion could encourage him to share. And after a time I let him be.

But while I feel he is old enough to have his privacy in some matters, it left me unsettled and worried.

For several years now, we've been a family of sharers. In fact, I would say my daughter generously shares with her ability to recount her daily activities in nearly play-by-play recitation; and I love it. It gives me a clear picture of how she feels, what she is dealing with, and how her life is going. It makes it much easier for me to understand what is on her mind and what is going on.

But James is a boy, and I suppose boys are by nature non-sharers.

I remember often picking Joey up from school and asking him how his day had gone. "Fine," was the typical response. And that is often all that I got from him.

As Kate prepares to leave this fall for a mission for our church, and I think about the void we will feel without her I admit that I've been looking to James to fill that hole for me a bit.

That is a duty he should not be required to perform. No child should bear that responsibility in a family, but I'll admit that he has many times before. He has a natural ability to lift others' spirits. He can sense other's feelings and draw them out. He comforts us almost without effort. It's a gift he has had since birth.

So now as my not so little son begins to keep more to himself, I'm feeling a little lost as to how to enter his world. How do I comfort the comforter? I want to know what he is thinking, and yet he deserves some level of privacy. It's a conundrum I've yet to answer.

So how bad is it? How bad is it that he wants to be left alone, and I want to pry and meddle until I know his innermost thoughts? It's the constant tug and pull of parenting that leaves me feeling bewildered sometimes as I try to give my children their freedom and yet protect them.

It's a sign he's growing up. It's a sign I'm not yet ready to let go. And yet somehow I can't help but hope we'll meet somewhere in the middle where he shares enough to ease his heart, and I hear enough to ease my own.


12 comments:

  1. Omgosh, I could have written this myself! My son is 13 and becoming a young man. Yet I am his mother & still want to be there to comfort & shelter. I too, hope that one day I have done enough that he will turn back to me xx

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    1. You TOTALLY get it. Raising kids is so hard some times. :(

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  2. Anonymous6:13 AM

    As the Mom of three grown boys, I understand. My boys were not sharers for the most part. I, too, got "Fine" or "Horrible" when asked how their day went - I would get some details on the horrible days, but not too many for the fine days. I can say that my boys have grown into very fine men - they are responsible, hard working.
    All you can do is be there for them, when they need to talk, give them space when they want it (which is most of the time) It's hard for us as women to not share, as that is our nature. It's hard to let the little boys go - but we raise them to be independent and have lives of their own. But it's hard when they start. They know they are loved, that is the important part.

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    1. Boys are so different from girls. I hate the word "fine," but I'm going to have to get used to it.

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  3. Everytime I read your "more personal" blog posts I wish that I could express myself the way that you do. What a talent that you have, I learn so much! Thank you for being willing to share the struggles and joys that we feel as moms, it helps me to stop and think about all of my blessings as a mom of four grown children, and to realize that your feelings are mine as well - must be this wonderful thing we call motherhood :)

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    1. Maybe we all feel the same way with parenting. It does help to know there is a whole community of us out there, doesn't it. :)

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  4. There's nothing harder than seeing your child upset and feeling helpless that you can't help. Sometimes you just have to give them time, that took me a long to time to realize that. Just love him and let him know you're there if he wants to talk. You have a beautiful gift of writing Jen.

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    1. Laura, being patient when it comes to helping them is so hard for me; but I'm working on it. I can tell he needs the space, and he's a great kid so he deserves it.

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  5. Those are tough moments as a mom because we want to protect our children but at some point they feel the need to separate from us and keep some things to themselves. Hugs to you Jen...I hope at some point he at least shares a little with you and I hope that whatever it is that's troubling him gets resolved.

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    1. Celeste, I hope he shares what's bothering him too. In the meantime I'm trying to be really open for any chatting he does want to do. I guess I learned that the hard way a bit.

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  6. this breaks my heart. I do think boys are more like that. just let him know you are always there to listen and that though things seem bad, you can always help him fix it or at least listen and he might feel better after he talks to you. what a precious sweet boy.
    xoxo
    tara

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