Trying Not To Hover – Mothering A Brand New 13 Year Old Boy

Last week my boy turned 13.  I knew this day would come, but I had no clue as to how fast it would sneak up on me.  Or how it would make me feel.

Sebastian likes hearing the story about how on the day he was born, I remember no sooner calling my Mom in Ohio to tell her that I thought I was in labor, to running the vacuum in the family room and looking up to see her yellow taxi come to a screeching halt in front of our Brooklyn apartment.  It was as if from that very first day, time started moving at super fast speed. 23 hours later, natural childbirth and all, when I was able to see his little face and hold his little body, I knew I wasn’t going to let anybody mess with him. He was my boy after all, and he was a going to be a good boy, and I vowed to protect him with my life. God help anybody who tried to stand in my way.

Fast-forward to 13 years later and I still feel this way. The trick is not to let him know this.  And not to “hover.”

It’s a bit of a learning curve having a brand new teenager.  12 is NOT the same as 13.

13 is a big fricken deal. It’s one step away from college for God’s sake.  You want to protect him, but you know you need him to stand on his own two feet. You want to remind him to bring his lunch to school, yet you want him to remember this on his own.  You want him to have a social life, but not really… Not quite yet.  You still want him to be good, and believe this to be the case.  And if there is going to be any funny business, you don’t really want to know about it.

On his actual birthday, to my relief, Sebastian only wanted a few of his close buddies over for a movie and a sleepover.  There was no real reason for me to worry about this.  I didn’t want to appear like the uncool Mom who had to make sure that they were behaving and not looking at porn on my computer.  So, I didn’t hover.  I cracked a beer and hid in the kitchen for a while as they played Wii and made rude comments to eachother in the living room.  I ordered pizza for them and let them make semi-explosives in the backyard with vinegar and baking soda.  I told them to have fun, and that there was left over pizza in the fridge, and I went downstairs to join my husband and pretend to go to sleep.  As I lay there, I reminisced about the many birthday parties of his past – the superhero party, the pony party, the carousel party, the volcano party.  Always beaming as the proud mom, and always making sure that everything was just right for my boy, and that there weren’t too many tears.  I was still beaming, but this year there was not much for me to take care of.  There were certainly no tears to wipe away.   I was happy about this, but I was also a little bit blue. It just went by too fast.  I longed for that little face and tiny body to hold and protect.  How does one get over this kind of loss anyway? The loss of our children’s early childhood?

Of course, I hardly slept that night, but I did manage to stay downstairs listening to them laughing and making noises while my husband slept next to me like a rock.  Only once, did I go to the bottom of the stairs and tell them to keep it down and please try to go to sleep.  And I did ask if they were on my computer.  Um, they weren’t.  And, there was no funny business.  At least not that I know of.


Suzi Shelton