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A Single Mom + A Teenage Boy + A Tough Decision = A Bottle of Wine

by Ilana Angel

June 3, 2011 | 7:55 am

My son has his dad in his life, but I am a still a single mom.  I am his primary caregiver and sadly have no relationship with his father.  We parent very differently.  I am a full time mom and when it comes to raising my son, I’m pretty much on my own.

I am the one who gets him up at 5:30 every morning, drives him to the bus at 6:20, picks him up at 5:30 each night, makes dinner, oversees homework, listens to problems, supports dreams, eases pain, eases fear, and reminds him everyday that he is special and has value.

My son and I are close.  We are honest with each other and rely on each other a lot.  While we are certainly friends, I am the mother/grown up and he is the son/child.  I love him, trust him, and am very lucky he is a good kid.  The thing is, he is also a teenager.  Oy vey.

Teenage boys are tough.  I’m sure mothers of teenage girls would argue girls are harder and I would agree, but still, boys are hard.  There are hormones raging and attention spans shortening.  We watch helplessly as our delicious boys turn into men right before our eyes.

Last summer my son spent a couple of weeks of vacation in Michigan.  His best pal is from there and his grandma has a fabulous house, in a fabulous town, where summer is a flashback to another time.  Our plan for the past year was for him to go back this summer for a month.

For the past few months, every time I asked my son about his homework he said it was good.  Is it done?  Yes.  Do you need help?  Got it covered.  Need to print anything?  Did it at school.  Is everything handed in?  Yup.  Do you have anything that you need me to check?  Nope. 

Imagine my surprise when I found out my son has 8 missing homework assignments and his grades are feeling the effects of his not handing stuff in.  He has been “bending the truth”, which he assures me, “is not lying”.  I trusted him and he was not honest.

Nobody got hurt, he is not failing, but he lied.  It could be worse of course. I am blessed he is a great boy and I don’t worry about drinking, driving, or drugs.  I’m lucky that I have such a good kid, but at the end of the day he lied, has hurt my feelings, and pissed me off.

My initial reaction was to not allow him to go to Michigan.  There have to be repercussions for his choices and if I cancel the trip maybe he will think twice about lying to me, spend more time focusing on his schoolwork, and not take the whole thing so lightly.

I asked him if he thought he should still go and he was annoyed as hell.  He thinks the punishment of pulling the trip does not fit the crime and believes he should go.  It’s good that he is sweating this one a little bit and I thoroughly enjoyed his let me go speech over a glass of wine.

I am making him complete all the work he did not hand in on time.  Should I cancel his trip to Michigan?  I will think about it over a few more glasses during the last couple of weeks of school.  He still has time to salvage the situation so we’ll see what happens.

I am not innocent in the situation.  I believed what he told me and should have pushed a little more to see what was happening. The thing is, when you are the primary parent, and you send your kid back and forth to another home, and the other home is different, you bend a little.

I overcompensate in my home for things that may be lacking in the other one, and that’s not always good.  Perhaps I was too trusting with the homework situation.  I would like to think it’s not about my kid lying to me, as much as it is just about a teenager in high school.

He didn’t do his homework and said he did.  Not a big deal.  But 8 times is a big deal.  I spoke with all his teachers, who are wonderful and dedicated, and he is on track to get it all completed and handed in before the year ends.  He’ll get partial credit and no damage is done.

I want to be the tough one who is going to say, “don’t screw with me”, but in the end that’s not really me.  I’m more of a, “I love you, you made a mistake, don’t do it again, learn from this experience”, kind of mom.  Of course there is some yelling thrown in for good measure.

In the end of course he will go to Michigan. I know it and he knows it.  I’m his mom and I don’t want to hurt him.  I just wish I could be sure a bigger lesson was learned.  I have to trust he gets it, know I am doing a good job, and understand this is life with a teenager.

If anyone has any similar stories, please share.  I love this kid and I don’t want to change who I am as a mom, but still stand firm. Maybe his being sorry is enough.  Maybe all I need is a bottle of wine, a few deep breathes, and the ability to not take it all so seriously.

My friends are telling me his trip to Michigan will be a vacation for me too.  No waking up early, no massive amounts of laundry, dishes, or schlepping him everywhere.  The truth is I will miss him so much it will hurt. Lord give me strength, so I can keep the faith.

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