Motherhood 101: Speak Up or Be Quiet?


I love my kid and am very proud of the man he is becoming. He truly is a wonderful human being, and at only 19 years old, has a very clear career path. My boy is talented, focused, and striding into adulthood with confidence. He towers over me, makes me laugh every day, and is very independent. I’m blessed to have an excellent relationship with my only child. He is growing up, and while some would argue he is already an adult, he will always be my baby and it is hard to see him struggle with any aspect of life.

This week he stumbled and I didn’t know whether to speak up or be quiet. I wasn’t sure if I should talk about his miss-step, or let him figure it out on his own. Important to note it was not particularly serious or complicated, it was simply a choice that came from being more child than man. In the end I spoke up because that is my job and I wanted to help him. I also spoke up because he was pissing me off and I needed him to know he was screwing up and needed to stop. Turns out I’m better at speaking up than being quiet.

We ended up talking about it. By talking about it of course I mean I yelled, he yelled, I explained, he apologized, I was kind, he learned something about me, I learned something about him, and ultimately he learned something about himself. Being a parent is hard, but being a child is also hard. This wasn’t about one of us being right or wrong. It was about making smart choices, which I think we both did. I need to trust in myself more that I have raised him well, and he needs to know my intentions are always good.

We have a great relationship and I am very aware of lucky we are that we not only love each other, but like each other. It is a strange time because I want to coddle him, and he wants to do things on his own. He is finding his way, finding himself, and I need to let him do both. It is really hard. I am a Jewish mother! I have no greater joy than watching him spread his wings, but the problem is I want to run beside him with a net just incase he falls. I cannot imagine a time in his life, no matter his age, when that will change.

I will be very sad when he moves out and we don’t see each other everyday. I have a front row seat to his accomplishments and his failures. I get to celebrate and commiserate with him in person, so I’m not sure what I will do with myself when he is out on his own and I don’t know everything that is going on. I have spent two decades raising this human being and I know he is going to do great things, but it is unfortunate I didn’t take more time to prepare myself for this part of his life because now he’s ready and I’m not.

My son and me are very good friends and I suppose the issue we dealt with this week showed our relationship is transitioning from adult and child to adult and adult. My advice was different as it was more of a suggestion to a friend than instructions from a mother, so maybe I’m more prepared than I thought I was for him to be an adult. Um, no. I’m not ready at all, but if I say it over and again, maybe I will eventually believe myself. My baby is a man. I need to accept it, get some tequila to cope, and keep the faith.

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