A Different Mom

I wanted to be a mom from the time I was a very young girl. Even as a child I think I was often the “mom” in my friend groups. It comes naturally. I was born with the soul of a mom. That soul sat lonely, quietly within me for many years. It took much longer than we wanted before I would actually be a mom to my own child. When it finally happened, I knew we were the perfect amalgam.

My son had his unique challenges, as every child has. But we were an amazing team at navigating those challenges. I was not a perfect mom. I made mistakes. Lots of them. But I was the perfect mom for him. When he needed extra patience, I sat in quiet stillness until he was ready. When he needed more confidence, I stood by with pride and encouragement until he found his own. When he needed understanding, my heart and my shoulder were there to provide rest. We walked side-by-side through doctors and questions and tests and results. We marched arm-in-arm through messy emotions and fierce attitudes. We taught each other about life and love. We learned from each other about heartache and strength. We gave our all to each other. I never had all the answers. So many times frustration took over when I was unsure of the ‘right’ thing to do. I got through my apprehension by the faith in my identity as his mom. Even in my most difficult times – the nights when unending tears of exhaustion kept me from sleeping, when the percussion of doubt beat louder than my heart – even then I believed I was best for him. I was the mom he needed.

The years keep moving on. He is not my helpless child any longer. He walks into a room now and standing before me a whole person – not a part of me. He is his own. And I…..am lost. The mom who placed toys just out of reach to encourage a curious infant hasn’t found the way to spark effort in her teen. The mom who calmly recited her love in response to an angry, shouting child scrambles to find the key to unlock the silence of the young man before her.

It’s a different place we’ve come to and I need to be a different mom. But, the mom I was to him is the mom I’ve always been. The only mom I’ve been. Through all my questions and helpless battles I was confident in my mom-ness. I find myself now in the shadows of mystery. I am filled with more doubt about my decisions than even in our most trying times of the past.

Once upon a time I needed to be gentle and passive to compensate for his aggression and anger. Somewhere now I must find strength and insistence. Time was I had to be quiet and ever-patient to calm his anxiety. Now I must find my voice of power and timeliness. Years ago I made allowances and gave extra chances for a mind that moved too quickly for his body. Where will I find the fortitude for limits now?

I strain to find my path in this new phase of parenthood. The challenges change but don’t fade away. I no longer have my confidence to bolster me. The questions feel bigger. The answers feel more out of reach. He is becoming a stranger to me, where once I knew him better than he knew himself. It is rebellious. It is frightening.

I no longer know how to be the mom he needs.

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