Can I be honest for a minute? I don’t feel like I’ve been connecting with my growing boys very well lately. We’re in this weird transition in our relationship. Instead of my role being mostly physical – cleaning up after them, bathing them, wiping their bums, making their bottles, kissing boo boo’s, pushing swings etc – I’m now in this transition to being more of an emotional and mental partner in life. They are growing up. Our roles are naturally going to change. But I have so say, it hit me out of no where just a couple weeks ago.
My babies aren’t babies anymore. My oldest son will be 13 soon. A teenager. Those wild, wonderful, interesting teen years are here. And my younger two are fast behind him. I have two double digit kiddos and one who is eight who acts like he’s 15 already. And here I am, grasping trying to find a way to hold onto them. I don’t want to lose connection with them in these vital years together. I don’t want a shallow relationship where I ask how their day went and they say fine and then run off to play games. I don’t want to wake up one day to an 18 year old I don’t even know, running off into the world to make their own life.
So I’ve been trying to find new ways to keep a connection with my boys. I’m not sure if boys are different than girls because I don’t have girls. I don’t know if 12, 10, and 8 year old girls like to talk about their feelings and desires and dreams. But my boys don’t. Not really. They like to talk about their latest video game. How is this mom supposed to remain connected?
They like to play card games, or board games. Ya’ll, if you know me well, you know I don’t like playing games. I don’t know why, it just isn’t fun for me. It’s like playing legos or barbies for some moms, I just don’t enjoy it. But I realize, I might have to do things I don’t love doing in order to do what my children love doing. So we played war together one night this week. And boy did they love it. We laughed and teased and joked and it was a lot of fun. I see the value of playing games. My in-laws love playing games with their kids and even Nick and I see the joy that they all have together doing so. And so I will be incorporating more games in our weekly time together.
We also like taking walks, or just being outdoors, period. We’re nature people. This comes super natural to me. I have fond memories of taking walks in the neighborhood with my mom and brother when I was young. It’s a great time to talk with the kids and enjoy what God has created for us. So this is a natural. But I MUST be more intentional in making this happen weekly.
While I was stitching tonight, I turned on a podcast by God Centered Mom. She had Sarah from Read-Aloud Revival on and boy did she light a fire under me! She was so passionate and on fire for reading out loud to your children and the value of that. Of course, most of us know this, but I always associated that with little kids – not big kids. I wasn’t sure how my kids were going to react to me reading to them. It’s been far too long. But like I said, I just felt like they probably had out-grown it.
Well, Sarah just made it sound like a very do-able thing to read out loud to your children… and even though I don’t recall she mentioned older children specifically, I could tell she felt reading out loud to your children at any age would be of benefit to them. And we’ve been having a hard time with our youngest in school retaining what he’s been learning. Most likely due to Lyme disease. We’ve been talking about ways to help him. Sarah mentioned on the show how important reading to your children is for their academic career. That really resonated with me.
I walked up stairs and asked the younger boys to join me in the upstairs living room. I allowed them to play Lego’s while I read to them. They chose the book, a book about the Ocean. Guys, it was a little strange at first. They looked at me funny. Like, seriously mom, you want to read a book to us? But they went with it. And it went great! They were engaged with the book, even though they had their hands busy with Lego’s, and asked questions about the story, and asked to see the pictures. It was a pleasant experience. I asked if they’d like me to do this every night and they both said yes. Score!
Next was my almost 13 year old. Friends, I was nervous he would laugh me out of his room by the mere suggestion of reading to him. And although my idea was met with a smirk and a giggle, he politely obliged and gave me the book he was reading. At first, it was awkward. I think we were both feeling each other out in this new thing we were doing together. But very soon he was laughing at parts of the book, at me and the voices I was making – y’all, he was totally engaged with the story – with me! In fact, so much so, he asked me to come back later and read more to him.
I don’t know how long this will last. But, I’m holding on with all my heart for as long as my boys will allow me to. I see parents have a hard time connecting with their adult children and I just don’t want to be one of those parents. I want my connection to be sustained throughout their teen years, and only grow stronger as they leave my nest, and make their own nest.
I hope doing these small things every week will help keep our relationship growing stronger and stronger. That even in their teen years, we’ll have things to do that we both enjoy together. I’m not in a fairy tale land of believing teen years are easy and fun as long as you make an effort. I realize we’re in for a ride. I know that I will let my kids down, and they will let me down. They may slam the door in my face. They may say hateful things. They will keep things from me. They will turn to their friends at not me. I know this. I was this. But, I also know that if the connection is nurtured now, it will remain through the harder times of our lives together.
I have high hopes for my children, their futures, and our relationships. I have dreams of a tight family unite. I also know my hopes will be dashed at times. And that is okay. Because, as long as they know I love them with all of my heart… that I like them with all of my being…it’ll all be okay.
It will all be okay.