Sunday, November 8, 2009

small devotions


What you do for me...what I do for you...the emotions can be mysterious -

but his hand on my leg as we jolt in Blue Thunder, body pressed on me, heavy and long, as we watch a movie on the couch, his steady gaze as I hold a difficult conversation on the phone... these are not mysteries but small devotions.

Things are very hard right now for Dakota. He prefers, now that he's older, that I don't talk about the specifics of any troubles he has, so I won't. He is struggling- he is fifteen, and if you have raised teenagers, or remember is very well, you know that fifteen is perhaps the most volatile age, especially for boys, and especially when combined with hardships or pain. Mr. Curry is not Dakota's biological father, as you long time readers know, I became pregnant with Dakota at nineteen and met Mr. Curry in my third month of pregnancy- we were to become best friends until our falling in love, years later. Dakota grew up at first with Mr. Curry as an Uncle figure, and now as a Father figure, and Mr. Curry has not failed to rise to the very demanding occasion.

Dakota is one of those children who has a clearly obvious special something- a kid who adults always raise their eyebrows at when he begins talking, because he is so acutely observant, so well articulated, so emotionally intelligent, so passionate and so very warm. He loves people, and they love him. Mr. Curry and I love our bright shining boy and are using our emotional energies to push ourselves daily to grow as parents, as people.
And yet.

Watching my boy go through these furies, at times directed only at me, is very painful. We are incredibly close. This makes it even more turbulent for him to grow up and separate himself as a person from me, because to find the ME and YOU he must be very clear about what I am that he is not, what I do that he will not, what I think that he does not. The separation is not unlike birth. The little boy is leaving, and in his leaving there is a transition that is complicated by other factors as well. It's a natural birth, just like his actual birthing was. I grunted, screamed and pushed him into this world with a Pitocin drip on my arm ( creating more pain to induce contractions ) and no pain killers. The contractions were mind blowingly painful. And then he was put onto my chest, and his squalling purplish face rooted around my breasts, and I felt the peace of a purposeful life descend on me with a happiness that has never left.


In one of the books I have been reading on guiding teenagers, the author was discussing the idea that teenage boys, if given 'enough' space, (not too much, nor too little) will be much quieter in their struggles, while teenage girls, more typically articulate and having had more emotional exchanges in the family, will be louder, scream more, fight more. This is not true for our very verbal, emotionally expressive and communicative family. Dakota can argue his emotions and opinions to the bitter end, and does. Often. That is all I will say about that! It is up to Mr. Curry and I to be non-reactive. Hahahahaha!!! I'm sorry. It's just that the enormity and difficulty of our jobs as parents has temporarily rendered me a bit mental.
This is where marriage steps in and absorbs impact. I listen to Dakota's angry words, I reply without screaming back, I stay calm and repeat myself, (amazing how similar parenting an angry teen is to parenting an angry toddler) I try not to get in the ridiculous pattern of trying to convince my teen that our rules make sense, without shutting him down, and then it's over, and Dakota is in his room, or out with Grandma, and I am sobbing into Mr. Curry's chest as he holds me and says every right thing any woman, any mother could ever want to hear. ' He knows you love him, ' he says. ' That is why he can fight so hard, he knows we are unconditional, he's not afraid of us, that makes him louder and ruder at times, but he is doing OK, he's working through it, he comes and talks to you late at night and snuggles, he goes to school, he's not on drugs, he's just a struggling kid. You are doing a great job. '

And when I'm not, when I start to crack under the pressure and my voice begins to rise or my left eye begins to twitch, Mr. Curry guides me like the dance partner he is into the kitchen and whispers in my ear, ' Let me get this one. ' And I do.
A Musing Mom (Taylorclan6) said...

How did you do that? You just painted the most beautiful picture using words while pulling me into your angst.

I wish I had the words to convey how we are riding a parallel track. Different kids, different DSM IV TR diagnoses. Sorry. Projection. Similar journey.

Great kids with amazing potential. Somehow we will hold on another day or hour or minute. Whatever we can conceptualize at the moment.

Ms. Moon said...

Fifteen is hard whether for boys or for girls. With the perspective that I have of my children being grown, let me tell you that all you have to do is keep loving them, keep telling them that you do, and yes, sticking by the rules and that in five or so years you will be amazed to find this grown-up, your child, standing so tall at your side, loving you forever.
I mean it- it happens.
I know.

parisapartment.wordpress.com said...

I give you a lot of credit, it can't be easy raising a teenager, let alone a boy. Thank heavens for Mr. Curry. You know you'll get through it and one day he'll turn to you and say, 'thanks mom'. It may not be for another 5 years but I'm sure it's coming with a special mom like you guiding him!

Simply Mel said...

He knows he is loved, he does! He does! And this is the force that will keep him by your side, and you within his heart forever. You and Mr. Curry are a powerful team, a bond that can never break, ever.

Annie said...

My highly intelligent, verbally expressive son is fifteen, too! Enough said, except to say, I know a bit of what you're going through. I am lucky, too, in that my husband is also an involved parent, and we try so hard to do it right, but we recognize our imperfections, in our son's eyes, as well as in our own. So, we tell him and show him we love him, all the time, and hope it all comes out right.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Lord. And I'm agonizing over the "eights." Honestly, who the hell knew this parenting thing would be so damn difficult? Everyone pulling you every which way --

JP/deb said...

that separation, that process of individuation, is a tough one on both teen and parent (I've gone through two and am in the midst of a third go around with this).

thanks for visiting my site, lovely to meet you ....

peace,
JP/deb

krista said...

*sigh*
i'm absolutely terrified of anything past this age i have now. this 21 months old and dependent on me. i feel like i fail at that sometimes and i cannot even fathom what it will feel like when she can tell me her judgment, all encased in puberty.
oh, maggie, my heart.
but i look at you because it sounds like you two are doing it right, you and the mr.

michelle said...

I'm gonna save this post someplace safe so in a few years when I'm standing in my kitchen crying over my own 15 year old I can read it and feel comforted.

starrlife said...

Ahhh, boys and their Moms- especially hard. It is so painful even to watch- a friend of mine went through this and her beautiful, cheek kissing son turned into shoving away distress. They do come out the other side and it sounds like you handle it perfectly- with such consciousness!

just making my way said...

I think about how my boy is so adept at pushing my buttons at six...and quake a little inside thinking about the future.

Sounds like both you and Mr. Curry are doing the best you can for Dakota. He'll understand that fully someday.

Lora said...

I wonder how my life will be when I have a 15 year old. I think my son and Dakota seem quite similar, with the emotional maturity and the deepness of their entire beings. I like when you write about him, I like that it gives me a glimpse into what I may be up against in the future.

Also, there is a lot of brain research coming out now that shows that a child in their mid to late teens show the same brain activity levels as a 2 year old. The impulsiveness returns, the feelings of selfishness and the sense of recklessness and all that good stuff.

Must be fun. Ick.

Erin said...

Oh, dear. Dear Maggie May. This was moving and beautiful and difficult, just like what your boy is (going through).

I'm so glad you have Mr. Curry by your side.

YES Gallery + Studio said...

Hey Maggie, I am writing with a request. You have so many beautiful photos on your site, but they never have any credit. Wondering if you could include the aritsts' names on your posts? :) Thanks!

Nancy Campbell said...

This is a love story, beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

Mwa said...

That Mr Curry of yours sure knows what to say. I'm dreading the teenage years. At least the toddlers you don't have to let out of the house after a tantrum. x

La Belette Rouge said...

Sometimes when I want to make myself feel better about being childless not by choice I read about parent's struggles with teenagers. But you, brilliant you, make even adolescent ennui seem like poetry. Keep up the good dancing with Mr. Curry.
xoxo

PalagiGirl said...

UGGHH! FIFTEEN! That's a tough tough age. I was staggered by the ferocity of my teenagers anger at times and it scared me to death. But here I am two years past fifteen and our relationship seems to be smoothing out. The I Love you's are more frequent and with less eyerolling. The hugs seem to be two way instead of my holding on for dear life and her pulling away. We still have our moments and they are wicked wicked moments but as they say "This too shall pass."
Oh and Mr. Currey. What a prince among men! Hang in there. Dakota loves you as unconditionally as you love him.

Katy said...

Oh I remember 15 - (from a girls perspective) I thought I could rule the world but I just wasn't old enough for anyone to take any notice of me! Deep down he will be grateful to have such supportive parents - I looked at madam the other day (in the midst of a three year old tantrum) and actually wondered if it was now or teenagehood that will be harder (on all of us). Beautiful words as always x

Phoenix said...

It seems that, although you are dealing with the struggles and challenges of raising kids, you also have an amazing partner who is 100% supportive and loving.

You are so lucky, and so blessed, and I know that you know this. I just let myself wash in it because up until recently, I never wanted to have kids...because I thought men were incapable of doing exactly what your Mr. Curry does.

Thank god we both met men who are not boys, eh?

Elizabeth Bradley said...

My youngest son is 19. I remember what you're going through. Love IS the answer. You'll get through this. :)

Shana said...

Oh. So hard. My son is now 21 (21! yikes!) and I remember these struggles so vividly. Sending calming thoughts your way.

Darcy said...

this post made me tear up.

you two have an obvious respect for him and his journey.

although I am not a parent myself, my mom gave me that. I was quite a hand full at 15, (she says I aged her 10 years). But now, at thirty, i thank her almost every day for struggling with me, never letting me go, but letting me BE.

Petit fleur said...

Awe darlin,

I have a neighbor with a teenage daughter and we joke about the toddler/teen similarities. You are spot on in every way. And so is Mr. Curry. His words are wise ... and remember, he was a 15 year old boy once, so he knows how it works!

You are doing great. Hang in there.
Peace,
pf

katiecrackernuts said...

You know. You sound like you're on top of it kiddo. At 35 I've done three - one is 22, one is 20 and one is 18. The 18-year-old near killed us, near killed the relationship. We also have a 15-year-old and I'm not sure what's to come. He's always been the gentle one. His sisters can be violent, especially the 18-year-old. I am coiled though. Ready Lara Croft style. Three down, one to go. I've got me a kit bag of parental shit and some of it might be good and some of it might be just that, shit. We'll just do what we do though and get through it. So will you.

Michele Renee said...

OK, am at work, had to use a Kleenex on this post. Alright, I'm back now.
"This is where marriage steps in and absorbs impact." I love that line. My oldest son is 13 and I am thankful that I have a husband (who was once 15 and had lots of brothers and firm parents) to absorb with me. My son and I have an emotional connection. I thank you for the reminder to tell him he is loved lots.

Hopeful said...

My son is four and I have often wondered about the teenage years ahead, which I have assumed to be much like toddlerhood with less control on the part of the parent (because you can't carry a teenager to their room). It's his job to push, your to stay firm. It sounds difficult for all involved, but it will pass. And you write about it with grace and beauty and deep love.

Bethany said...

Great chapters in this book about raising boys: Broken Open: How difficult Times can help us grow.
Your writing is wonderful, your insight and strength. I so admire parents, in every stage.

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