Letting go of my teen

I can still remember the first day I dropped my teensy little 3-year-old off at the nursery school. She wanted to walk through the gate herself, urging me to ‘Go, go!’ My emotions were torn between pride and heartache: my little baby’s first steps into the big world – and she wants to take them by herself! I don’t know who was closest to tears: my husband or me!

A couple of years later, it was even worse with my son. He had been in constant pain for the first 8 months of his life, necessitating a delicate, urgent operation. I mothered him a lot after that, and I distinctly remembered how upset I was when he took his first steps. Apart from the usual happiness at his achievement and evident growth, I still, until today, recall the feel of his small body in my arms, and the sense of going to lose the feel of it one day.

How right I was! Now he is a strapping 15-year-old who I have to look up to, at his height of 6”4. He still has a lot of growing up ahead of him, but already there are things that I have to stand back to, and allow him to do... like going to an under 18s party at a local club.

I’m sure most mothers can remember their child’s first steps, first word, first day at kindergarten and school. Their first friend, first boyfriend or girlfriend, first heartbreak and the accompanying tears. Their first day at high school. It was with horror that I heard my daughter counting off her first day of every term towards the end of her school career. It was bad enough knowing she only had 5 years of school left!

As teenagers there are many new and scary firsts. The first time you allowed them to take a sip of your alcohol, or have their own drink. The first time you let your teenager sleep out, or drive alone with an older teenager behind the steering wheel of the vehicle.

I think that as our children grow, their safety and health depends more on our prayers than on their little angels of protection. As the mother of teenagers I spend more time in prayer and concern than cleaning up after them – which says a lot!

My daughter is in matric this year: her first day of her last year, the end of her last first term. I am going to cry on the day of her matric farewell and on her wedding too. No matter how happy or beautiful she is.

The club or not the club?

So I am thinking of a hundred reasons why I should not drop my son of at the club for the under 18s party. Apart from spiked drinks and aggressive hooligans, I am concerned about peer pressure, tempting girls, human trafficking and every other horror the mind of a mother can conjure.

Then his friend calls: The friend’s older brother cannot accompany them to the club tonight. It appears neither of them was ready to face this first without an older person present.

I sigh with relief. Although I had prepared myself mentally and had given myself the “you-have-to-let-go” -talk, it seems that I do not have to rely on their good judgement and proper education this time round. For today, there is one less aspect of my teenager’s life; I don’t have to LET GO of.

Which have been the hardest ‘first steps’ with your children?

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