Being a mother of teenage men-children is an interesting journey. The boys that needed you so much for so many years as their primary carer, no longer look to you first for help and advice with everything. On the contrary, they look to and respect the opinions of their friends and peers first, older boys second, sporting coaches, teachers or other authority figures next, and parents coming in a long way last.
Trust me, 16 year old boys know everything and don’t need parents at all! Except when they need a lift somewhere, or to know how to open a bank account, get a tax file number, put on a washing machine, fill the dishwasher or hang out some clothes. And if they want something, they don’t necessarily ask their mother first anymore (especially if they think their father will lend a more sympathetic ear). Even more so if it’s a blokey activity, which I can appreciate and actually think is healthy for boys. You know, that male bonding stuff.
It’s certainly a challenge for one’s ego parenting teenagers, even more so as Mother of a Man-Child. In my mid 40’s, it’s fair to say I am loving life. Great mates, great job, great family, at my healthiest in years, good work/life balance, good network of friends and colleagues. However such is the power of teenagers that in a split second your ego can be inflated by a few simple words (“Mum, you look great” – if only they could say it without surprise in their voices), then instantly deflated with a look from them that needs no words, rendering said mother as “useless”. If you are having a moment of weakness, these incidents can cut you to the core, leaving you feeling bereft, and almost in mourning for the children you once had, and the adoration they once bestowed upon you.
And God forbid you should attempt to talk to their friends. Most of them seem very nice to me and happy to chat upon arrival in our home. Yet one of my men-children in particular (and to be fair not his brother) practically drags his friends out of the room, so quick is he to escape our presence. I can only assume it’s embarrassment on his part – perhaps we are not up to his standards? They say the grass is always greener on the other side – does the same extend to parents? Are everyone else’s parents somehow cooler than your own? No doubt.
Thankfully I still have Sister of a Man-child, who still wants and needs her mother. Me and my ego soak that up every day, knowing too well it is a temporary state. Fortunately, as Celia Lashlie’s book “He’ll be OK” showed, I also have confidence the men-children will return to me in due course, and be the nice young men we are bringing them up to be, who love and appreciate their Mum (and of course their Dad and sister).
I have written about the journey across the adolescent bridge before: It’s a Man’s world