The Boy came home one evening recently and told me, “My friends are super excited about moving away to college. I don’t get it!”
“What don’t you get?” I asked him.
The Boy replied, “Mike and Mark both told me they can’t wait to get away from their parents.”
I continued to listen.
“They said their parents are always telling them what to do, and they hate it. I totally can’t relate to that.”
“Nobody wants to be told what to do all the time,” I said.
“I think my experience has been kind of different,” he replied thoughtfully.
“How so?” I prompted.
“I feel respected in my home, and like I have a lot of choices and power. I’m getting more excited about moving away for college in September but it’s not like it’s going to be so much better. It’s going to be fun and stuff, but also hard and a lot of work.”
I nodded my head. I love these late-night talks when The Boy is open and wants to share what’s on his mind. I silently congratulated myself for staying up longer than I planned.
The Boy rummaged in the cupboards and I commented, “It’s wrong to me when adults talk to young people in ways they would never talk to other adults. Like, what’s that about? Adults don’t walk around telling each other what to do!”
“Exactly!” he agreed.
Now The Boy was sitting with his snack, going through his Snap Chats, and the conversation appeared to be over. As I finished tidying the kitchen I thought about how excited I had been to move away to college because I wanted space from my parents, just like Mike and Mark. I could relate to them.
This made me feel jealous towards my own son.
How come he gets to grow up in a home where he feels respected and I didn’t? Is he more worthy of respect than I am? Is he more lovable or important?
These questions always lead to grief. It’s not the first time I’ve asked myself why he gets some things I never got.
But I know what the answers are, and these answers bring tears to the surface: I am equally lovable, important, and worthy of respect. My value as a human is equal to the value of The Boy and equal to the worth of every other person. Always has been; always will be.
Working toward the goal of meeting all our child’s needs provides access to this old grief. For me the simple act of breastfeeding, which I knew was the healthiest way to nurture a baby, brought up buckets of sadness for me because I never experienced that when I was an infant.
Is it fair that The Boy has a life that in some ways is so much better than mine ever was? No it’s not. But it is reality, and who am I to fight reality? All parents start the journey with a desire to fiercely guard and guide our young people to their best life. I would never want less for my son.
By feeling our grief we can heal and transform it.
Where once inside me was a deep sense of loss there is now a spring of gratitude. I am grateful for the bright beginning I gave The Boy; I am grateful for the immense closeness we share that I never had with my own mom; I am grateful for the intense strength I have inside me that may have gone undiscovered if I had never been a parent.
Grief that is unhealed becomes resentment. It was never okay that you or me or anyone else didn’t get all the love and attention and assistance we needed when we were young. But now we are big, and we can set our lives up with nourishing relationships and self-care routines and opportunities to feel – and heal – those old hurts.
Keep your heart open; open to growth & healing and open to your beloved teenager!
Have you ever felt jealous of your teen? Let me know in the comments below 🙂