Dear Boys:

I know that being a teenager isn’t easy. Despite what you may think sometimes, I am young enough to remember what being a teenager was like, with all the ups and the downs. You are trying to find the person you are and struggling with your independence and most of the time, your father and I are viewed as the enemy. We won’t let you do this or that and we’re mean — or so you think.

Just remember that while you are struggling to fit comfortably into the man who you are becoming, I am struggling to learn to let go. It is just as hard for me as it is for you…in fact, it might be harder since I have known you longer than you remember me. You were quite literally a part of me for the better part of almost a year. From the moment that I found out you existed, I tried to protect you…from everything. I didn’t do certain things, I didn’t eat certain things, because they might have hurt you. When you were born my life changed… forever. There was no going back. For the better part of a decade you depended on me and your dad for pretty much everything. You were so happy to see us when we came home and gave me hugs that were as tight as your little arms could manage. If something frightened you or hurt you, you came running to me or your dad. You looked to us to protect you…be it from something real or just something that was very real to you. You couldn’t wait to tell me about this or that thing that happened and I couldn’t wait to hear every detail of your day.

Now, you roll your eyes because I am asking how your day was or who your friends are or what your plans for the weekend might be…it’s really just because I miss being the one that you want to share all that with and because I really want to know. I’m still interested in what you are doing, your hopes, your dreams. You shrug away when I try to give you a hug or a kiss. You mutter under your breath about “moms” and make me feel guilty for caring.

Sometimes I don’t think that you understand that this growing up thing is two-sided. It’s just as much about you learning to be your own person as it is for me to learn to let you go off into the world on your own. While it can be scary and frustrating for you sometimes….it’s scary and frustrating for me too.

Taking care of you and protecting you and being there for you is something that I have been doing for your entire life. You will never be too old to be my little boys. I want to see you have wonderful, full, loving lives and careers that you love.  I love you so much and you won’t even understand exactly how much that is until you have kids of your own. I love your friends since you chose them and they are a reflection of you.  I think you’re turning into wonderful men and I am very proud of you. Your friends, along with your brothers, are the foundation of your lives and I hope that you are able to build a warehouse full of memories with them, stories that will make you laugh so hard that you cry, just thinking of all the good times you’ve had together throughout your lifetime. Along the way, remember that my asking questions and wanting to know stuff is because I love you and sometimes I miss the little boys that you were and the fact that I was your world and you wanted to share every part of your day with me. It’s not always about being nosey or a pain in your butt (okay sometimes it is because after all that’s a parent’s job) but it’s really because I’m interested and I miss having you depend on me so much. It’s a whole new role for me too, being a mom of teenage boys, and I have to figure out where I belong and how I fit into that new role.

So please, try to remember, as you are wandering through the web of adolescence and rolling your eyes and muttering under your breath and believing that I am the biggest thorn in your side; there are two parts to the process, this growing-up thing, — yours and mine.