Happiness Highlights: The Talk After The Fight

In less than a month, he’ll be 13. I’ve been writing about him since he was a kindergartner, but those days are quickly coming to an end. In a month, he’ll be old enough to have his own Facebook account (yes, we’re making him wait) and he’ll begin to create his own online story. I’ve already begun to say less about him, but I suspect that decline will take a steep dive towards silence when he becomes his own autobiographer.

The irony is that in recent months I’ve had more to say than ever – needed someone to listen – because this parenting thing has gotten really hard.

He’s a good kid. A great kid, in fact. He spends most of his free time at the library and gets straight As effortlessly. He’s smart, wise, capable of kindness and mostly trustworthy.

But he’s also 12, and I’m learning exactly what that means.

It means parenting has gotten really hard.

It means the transfer of power and responsibility has started to go more quickly and less smoothly than I would have imagined it would. It means he wants more freedom than I’m ready to give and is giving less respect than I believe we’ve earned. It means we’ve moved from disciplining to arguing, and he raises his voice.

Like I said: hard.

Saturday night was especially rough. My feelings got hurt and he found himself grounded with his cell phone in my purse. He disappeared into his bedroom, and I sent his father after him to… to I don’t know what. To plead my case? To prove we were united, I guess. A few minutes later I decided to wade back in myself.

The details of why he is grounded and who said or did what are irrelevant. What’s relevant is this:

Somehow, the three of us started to talk.

No one was yelling. There were a few tears shed, but mostly we were actually communicating. Both fronts, I think, felt heard for the first time in weeks.

My son voluntarily hugged me at one point. That doesn’t happen much anymore.

It was the best thing to happen in my life all week.

Parenting right now is hard. But it is still worth it. There is still happiness to be found.

What was your happiness highlight this week?

I take the time to highlight what made me happy each week because gratitude is the root of all happiness. I encourage you to develop your own gratitude practice; I wholeheartedly believe it will change your life.

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  1. Mine are only 10 and already I can see things headed down that road. Not little boys anymore, yet so much more (hard, hard) parenting to go. (And with the autistic one, probably forever.)

    I’m so glad you got to have some real communication, even though what predicated it was tough. And I need to look more to my own happiness these days. I’ve been just thinking a lot about that since the other night – when I lied when my son Ethan asked if I was happy. I said “yes” because I didn’t want to burden him with the truth.
    Varda (SquashedMom)’s most recent post: I am a Sandwiched Caregiver

  2. Poppy says:

    I really love your son very much, because I know how incredible he is just from our very limited time together.

    I know teenage boys are VERY hard to parent, and the idea of doing this myself scares the shit out of me.

    I’m really glad you found some common ground for a minute. And I hope during the really bad times you can remember that on the other side of all this hard growing up time he’s going to be an amazing adult because you and Jared helped him become that.

    Thanks for making him wait until 13 to use Facebook.
    Poppy’s most recent post: batty

  3. Dory says:

    I feel you. I have two teens, 13 and 16. Oy. Vey.
    Dory’s most recent post: It amazes me how big a difference it makes

  4. Becca says:

    My happiness highlight is that my middle children are coming up for Thanksgiving.

    I am trying to kindly ride the line between parent that is not involved in her daily life because I don’t live in Texas, while not letting her think that I think that it is completely ok to act like a poopyhead just because she is trying to have hormones and live with her father. I don’t like him either, but I try to show that she still needs to respect him while trying not to be up here saying “Ha! that’s what you get for living with a 14 year old girl.”

    So, I’m happy they are coming up here, not happy that I am getting ready to have to make that appointment for the health department, in my opinion, way too soon.

  5. Naomi says:

    Parenting IS hard … and I often bite my tongue when parents of wee ones are in the midst of their struggles, and are verbalizing their frustration with potty training, middle of the night wake ups and temper tantrums.

    Each stage has its own issues … and each stage has its own joys and triumphs.

    I am thankful nearly EVERY day that my children are kind, compassionate and respectful. I know you can say the same, and that makes parenting just a smidge easier!
    Naomi’s most recent post: Box 53b

  6. Megan says:

    This parenting a teenager stuff is HARD. Mine will be 14 tomorrow. The hormones, they are flying.

    What I think is particularly hard is that when I was his age, I had a fair amount of freedom (and, briefly, a job), in ways that I would never consider for Mack. Times have changed and we cling a little more than we might have 20 years ago.

    Which makes it harder still.

    What made me happy this week? Tiny, fresh madelines at Cafe Boulud, staying up late with friends and finally finding something to rehab my poor, overworked shoulders. And? Thanksgiving is coming. I love Thanksgiving.
    Megan’s most recent post: Topped

  7. They had a teacher’s meeting at my kids preschool today so they needed volunteers to watch the early drop offs. It was so fun being in the classroom again
    Corey Feldman’s most recent post: Egret Review

  8. Jen says:

    I have a 18 mo old (and a 4 week old)…but my little girl is one going on 12….said the same thing today…being a mom is hard! I also love my own mom and respect her more and more each day…I know I was a hot mess at 12!!

  9. the muskrat says:

    I got to go to Colorado with the Air Force!
    the muskrat’s most recent post: back in colorado (with emphasis on the “back”)

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