Jenny’s ChannelMom Blog: “Help, My Kid Might Not Like Me Anymore!”
So, I decided to write this after I woke up one morning… saw my son sleeping on the living room floor… and started to cry.
Let me set the stage: Our son is 16. He drives now and has a job at a restaurant. He’s taller than his father with a voice almost as deep. He’s strong and handsome and confident. And, here’s the kicker… he doesn’t really seem to like his parents much anymore. [His younger sister, who is 12, might still like us.]
And, now I’ll set the scene that made me cry: Our son had come home the previous evening from working at his restaurant job. I think he grunted a “hey,” when I said, “hey, buddy” in my happiest voice. He seemed mildly annoyed that I was speaking to him. He was tired from a long day of work. I was hurt from a heart that wrapped itself around his little life as soon as he appeared outside of my womb. Sometimes, when I hear him grunt his “hello,” I reminisce about the days when he’d shout “I YUV YOU, MOMMY” repeatedly at the top of his lungs. He was two then.
Act 2 of the scene that made me cry: When I came upstairs the next morning to sit in my “prayer chair,” there was my son sprawled out on the living room floor with a single blanket and his cell phone charging nearby (he doesn’t like to sleep in his actual bed in his actual bedroom). I proceeded to the kitchen and found his socks on the floor. My bare feet also felt the sugar and bits of cereal left behind by his 16-year-old midnight snack — a large, mixing bowl of cereal. The mixing bowl was in the sink, stacked on top of a pile of other dishes. The empty cereal box was on the counter, as was the empty milk jug and sugar container. Hmmm. This is when I got so angry I started to cry.
Cry? “Why?” you say. And then, you might point out that he isn’t committing crimes or doing drugs or dropping out of school; he’d simply left behind a mess, as a typical self-centered teen. Well, it wasn’t really about the mess or the careless trail of belongings he’d left in his wake. It was the contrast — the contrast between what I’m still expected to do for him because I love him…. and how little he appears to love me. In my inner monologue, I thought: “So, he can come home and barely acknowledge me or even so much as smile at me and then I’m expected to feed him, clean up after him, cheer him on and continue to love him like I always have even WITHOUT the ‘I yuv you’s?’ He can disregard my advice and occasionally roll his eyes at my attempts to be funny and make me feel… well… unloved… but he still expects me serve him hand and foot. Well, he’s got another thing coming!”
But, here’s the thing. I do still serve him because I do still love him. And, our love for our children shouldn’t be conditional on whether or not they love us back. The fact is: it was my pride that was rising up and my love was digging down. We MUST love our kids, whether or not they love us back. Kind of like God loves us….
Still, most parents would admit that it’s strangely hard when your kids reach new stages of independence, from toddlers to teens. I’m talking about stages when they don’t seem to need you or want you or show you how much they love you (at least not like they used to). It’s hard to know when you should still serve them and help them, even when they give very little in return. We don’t want our love for our children to turn to indulging them or spoiling them or enabling them to exhibit poor behavior for the rest of their lives!
But, today, I am not focusing on necessary discipline or the proper consequences for self-centered teen behavior. Today, I am focusing on how love continues in trying times. Bottom line: it’s hard to love someone more than you’ve ever loved anything on the planet…. and then see that someone make the turn toward something other than your arms, your heart, your love. Oh, how hard that is for a mother who loves so hard. But, in the end, it’s worth it.
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