Being a mother is joyous. And being a mother is heart-wrenching. What's that quote? Something like, "it's like having your heart walk around outside your body."
A heart can get pretty abused that way.
The first time they don't cry when you leave them with someone else. The first time they drop your hand and run to catch up with a friend. The first time they wax poetic about their favorite teacher/babysitter/other special adult with the same rapture that was previously reserved for you.
Your heart breaks, just a little, with each milestone of independence and each snip of the apron strings. But you shake it off and solider on. After all, isn't this your job? Aren't you raising them to leave you one day?
At first it happens slowly in early childhood, with enough recovery time to adjust to this new level of parenting. Get your wig on straight again. But then during the teen years it's a full blown assault. Bam! Bam! Bam! There are new adjustments and negotiations that happen at an alarming rate.
At this time, you fully understand the phrase "with my heart in my mouth." It's there so no one can hear you scream.
I've been the mother of a teen for a few years now and just like parenting a smaller child, it's both joyous and heart-wrenching. Sometimes within the same day. But I roll with it. I have learned to take the hugs when I can get them and not take it personal when I don't. I have learned to listen when he talks and not take it personal when he doesn't. Sometimes he wants to spend time with the family and sometimes he would rather be with friends. I don't take it personal.
That's the key to being the mother of a teen and keeping your heart intact -- don't take anything personal.
Except this. This I am taking personal.
How can I not?
I've read the books out loud to him since he was 5 years old. Every. Single. Book. Even the last books when he was more than old enough to read on his own.
I've been to bookstore parties, played trivia games and bingo.
I've stood in line -- at midnight -- with hoards of other fanatics.
I've taken him to every movie.
I've bought every DVD and watched the movies again. And again.
I admit, I've enjoyed reading the books as much as any kid, and I am a fan even without my son, but I love that this was something that we experienced together. His dad could not follow our long detailed conversations and nor did he try. This was "our thing" -- just us two -- for over 10 years.
As I read the last page of the last book, I was sad to have that time come to a close. Yes, I would miss that world, but mostly I would miss sharing that world with my son.
But at least we still had the movie, the last movie, to extend that time together, right?
My son just informed me that he wants to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with friends.
"But," I said, my voice sounding small, "that's our thing."
Let me say that I think kids should want to spend time with friends. I encourage it. It's healthy and expected but how can he be okay seeing Harry Potter with anyone else but me?
"Sorry," he said.
He didn't sound sorry.
He sounded perfectly okay seeing Harry Potter with anyone except me.
Sure, I'll see the movie. Alone or with my husband who will keep asking questions, because he didn't read the books and knows nothing about Harry Potter but will feel sorry for me. Or maybe with my friend, a Harry Potter fan with children still too small to share her passion.
Either way, it won't be the same without my son.
I get it; he's growing, changing and finding his own way in the world. Trying on who he wants to become. I fully support that, but sometimes it's hard to find common ground and I miss how close we used to be. But at least we had Harry. Harry and the Wizarding World was always an easy thing between us.
I know that we will be close again one day, when he feels that he's himself enough to be mine again. And we'll find new interests to share. But we'll never have Harry again. That bond is, sadly, prematurely, over.
Can someone please come take this knife -- er, Gryffindor sword -- out of my heart?
Photo Credit: randy stewart.
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