When my oldest son was in the 5th grade he went through a faze where he wanted to hug me all the time. He was just tall enough that when he hugged me his face was exactly in my chest, and he would stand there and hug me for as long as I would let him. There were times I had lots of time to stand there, but other times I had to cut it short because I really did have to make dinner or walk to another room for something. I am so happy to say that someone caught a picture of him hugging me once at a lake so I have a beautiful reminder of what felt frustrating at the time. As a mom sometimes I really felt like I just needed a little personal space and so didn’t always appreciate it the way I should have.
Now that he is 20 and after surviving the last few years with him, I really feel as though some part of his heart, soul, psyche, something inside of him needed to say goodbye to me. Something knew what his teenage years were going to be like and he hugged me as much as he could. He is a very smart child, and he loves to debate, which actually feels like arguing. His father was an attorney and would encourage it and they would argue for hours. But this became very difficult as he choose to go a separate way from the faith that he was raised in, or didn’t stick with our values as a family. He became very involved with pot. So much so that he went to rehab once, which sounds silly considering now they say it’s not addictive and its being legalized. But he would use to it to such extremes that he had very high peaks and very depressed valleys that were hard on the rest of the family. I’m so grateful it didn’t evolve into harder substances but it was hard. I happen to have a extremely sensitive nose and we had several fights when I would sniff out his well hidden stash without even trying.
Now that I have divorced his dad he has another thing to debate with me. He enjoys pointing out all of his fathers good points, and all of the things his father really did well at as a husband and dad. He likes to underplay the difficulty he knew only parts of. He feels that because he is 20 he should get to know all the details of my defunct marriage so he can cross examine all the choices I made. Luckily I have been to counseling and the state mandated parenting class both of which taught me that my marriage and it’s problems are not to be discussed with my kids. I tell him over and over that I will always be grateful and love his dad for giving me our beautiful children but I won’t discuss my relationship with his dad with him, I will discuss my relationship with him as my son anytime. I don’t know if he’s just being a normal child trying to reconcile his parents or if he’s so happy debating that he knows every button I have and that the guilt I have over the divorce is a easy way to get me riled up. I also know that his dad, his paternal grandparents and his fathers siblings all feel that is it a great idea to discuss our marriage and problems and my percieved weaknesses with my children. So, many times when my son is debating with me I hear all the ex-inlaws voices and thoughts in his words. This doesn’t seem fair that he is getting one sided information, however I have been assured by multiple therapists that I’m am doing the right thing in not discussing my side and someday my children will know what they already feel in their hearts. Today was a particularly rough afternoon with my son, I had gone out of my way to take him to lunch and spend time with him. I think I held it together very well, dropped him off, drove to Target and sobbed in my car. I was just so exhausted and bruised from his verbal barrage.
I hold on to the hope that someday he will grow up and acknowledge what I believe is in his heart. Until then I have a beautiful picture of my son hugging me, when all was right and innocent.