“Mommy, next time we go sledding I want to go with friends. I’ll have more fun then.”
For some reason these words hurt me deeply. I have always taken Michael on sledding play dates with close friends, but he and I have also had lots of fun sledding together. I am a parent that has always done a lot of sports and physical activities with Michael, like walking to parks and bike riding. So why now that he is growing up and wants to do more away from me (something I hoped and prayed for years ago when I was feeling stifled as an Exceptional Mom), am I now sad? Then as I thought about it, I had my answer. It seemed to happen overnight. I know. Puberty has been occurring over the course of a year. I saw the signs, and the first thing I thought was, thank goodness I spent time with Michael when I did. Soon, I will just be useful to him for drives or to give or pay him money for chores. But I digress. It still made me sad, as I realized, I did not know how to relate to my tween son in full blown puberty.
Don’t get me wrong. He still wants to share his day with me. He still wants to spend time talking to me about his classes, his friends, his big crush. But the little boy that loved to curl up in my lap with a book, now likes to talk to his friends on the phone and listen to music videos. He also likes to watch tv and play video games. Yes, I know. He is a teenager. What teenager likes to hang out with their Mom? Still, I want to find a way to still connect with him on subjects we could have in common. That is why when he announced his desire to only go sledding with friends, that I was hurt. We have ALWAYS connected on physical activity, and my big worry is that I will lose him opening up to me about his life if I lose doing activities with him. It’s already happened with going to church with me and reading. Now, if we can’t do sports together, will he still know I am there to turn to when times get rough?
Hopefully yes. So far he seems to still hold me in high regard. We have had countless puberty talks where no subject has been too sensitive for me. I have purposely told Michael he can tell me ANYTHING and I mean it. I want him to know I am there for him through it all. I guess I worry about him losing who he is. He is so preoccupied right now with being like his friends, doing what they do, watching what they watch that I worry, will he have his own mind like he did when he was little? I have told him the story about “if a friend does something dangerous would you copy him because he is a friend, or would you try and stop him?” He only laughs as I used the “friend jumps off a bridge” analogy that my own mother used. I know he has autism and takes things literally, but in this case, he got the significance of it. He is very neuro typical in some ways, and I don’t want to underestimate his ability to understand things. So now I have to remind myself that he and I will always be close, even when another woman, one closer to his own age, has his heart one day. He may not go to church with me, but every night we pray together at bedtime. He may not read books with me, but he sees me reading and asks me questions about stories. He may not want to go sledding with me, but the other day asked if we could go for a walk together. My little boy still wants a relationship with his mother, but understandably it is maturing as he is maturing. So I have determined that I will not panic, but trust that in his struggles and triumphs, he knows Mom has his back.
Exceptional Parents, are you struggling with your child pushing you away and then pulling you close? If so, it’s all normal. Remember, give them their space. Special needs or not, they are separate from you, and deserve their independence. Just make sure you show them every day how much you love them, and that you are always there for them no matter what. If they feel your love, they will always have a healthy relationship with you and themselves. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.