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Jewish Journal

My Teenager Still Needs Me - Thank God

by Ilana Angel

September 8, 2011 | 9:11 am

I am raising my son to be a good man.  I am trying to present Judaism to him in a way he will not only embrace it, but want it for his own family. I am teaching him to believe in himself, respect women, and take care of the planet.  I want him to work hard, and be generous to those less fortunate.

I often wonder if he is getting it.  Does he hear anything I am saying?  Does he understand how hard he will need to work to make his dreams come true? The older he gets, and the more he ventures out into the world, the more worried I become.  Have I done my job?  Will he be okay on his own?

This is an exciting time in my boy’s life.  He is finding his voice, embracing his passions, and figuring out what he wants to be when he grows up.  He is a very kind soul, and extremely funny.  I am proud of who he is, who he wants to be, and the vision he has for his future.  He is a wonderful child.

I love watching him grow and mature.  Beyond loving him because he is my child, I really, really like him.  He is fantastic company, insanely entertaining, and a loyal and trusted friend.  Not only to me, but to everyone.  As much as I love watching him grow up, there are days when I miss my little baby.

As a single mom, I have spent a tremendous amount of time with him and we are very close.  I miss him when he is gone.  By gone of course I mean that some days I miss him just when he is at school.  He is my son, friend, and hero.  Last night, for a quick second, I got my baby back.

We were talking about life, school, driving, girls and all the things he has going on. Being a teenager is hard because of all not only the peer pressure, but also the pressure that you put on yourself.  While talking, he suddenly became quite vulnerable and I got glimpses of my little boy.

We spoke of his fears and insecurities, and I was reminded that even though he towers over me, he is still just a kid, and he needs me.  He needs my input, values my opinion, craves direction from me, and as much as he wants to grow up fast, he is a child who needs his mommy.

When we were talking, it was as if I was in one of those car commercials where the dad is telling his daughter to drive safe and wear her seatbelt, and you see him talking to a 5 year old, only to then have her become a teenager.  I looked at this man-child and all I saw was my baby.

One of the great tests of parenthood, is letting your child grow up and go out on their own.  I’m trying really hard to take baby steps towards separation as my child inches towards college.  I am proud of his independent spirit, but nostalgic for when he relied on me for everything.

I love my son.  He has been my greatest joy and being his mother is a privilege.  Last night I realized I’ve done a great job, and best of all, my work is nowhere near being finished.  He still needs me, and it was a blessing to be reminded in such a lovely way.

I had a great night with my kid.  He fell asleep as my little baby, but woke up as a teenager.  He went to bed letting me know he needed me, and got up insisting he could do everything on his own.  Just like in the car commercial, his vulnerability was a flash and he snapped back quickly.

It’s a real treat to be reminded that he needs me.  Our conversation was authentic and natural and came about without force.  In just talking about life, he was able to set aside his teenage ego, and allow himself to be a child who needs his mother, and I will treasure the moment always.

I am certain the conversation did not impact my child in the same way it did me.  In fact, when I told him this morning that our talk was special, he looked at me as if I was a crazy person with no idea what I was talking about.  The teenager is back, my heart is full, and I am keeping the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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