Parenting isn't for cowards

My child did not come with an owner's manual. Yes, I bought several books on baby care before he was born and I've bought several books on raising boys but none of them are really helping me. I'm honestly at a loss these days. Living with a teenage boy is really trying my patience. I mistakenly thought that I wouldn't have to deal with the hormonal moodiness since I had a boy. Ha! I'm such a silly mom. One minute we are chatting and laughing and in the blink of an eye he turns into a sullen angry boy. How does that happen? And just what is he so mad about? I don't get it.

I feel as if it's my fault that he's this way. I'm the mom so it has to my fault right? I have so many regrets about they way he has been raised. When I was pregnant with him, I had dreams of being the perfect mom. We would read together every night and always say our prayers. I wouldn't yell or spank. We would do crafts for every season and holiday. His baby book would contain every important memory. I had plans for piano lessons and the Suzuki violin method. He would get good grades and I would be involved in his schoolwork and his school. Playdates would be plentiful because I was going to make sure he had all the friends I never did. We chose our church because it had a strong children's program and wanted to be sure he had good church friends as he got older and would be meeting kids from all walks of life in public school. Being a mom was something I'd looked forward to for so long and by golly, I was going to do it right but I didn't.

And there are no do overs.

Now here I am 13 years later and facing the reality that all of the plans and dreams didn't happen. We rarely read books at night and now my son really doesn't like to read. Prayer time together never became a habit and is now non existent. I yell...a lot. We hardly ever managed to even color eggs or carve pumpkins much less do crafts. The baby book is blank. The piano and violin lessons never happened. His grades are awful (even though his test scores are WAY above average) because I can't seem to remember to keep up with his assignments and never taught him how to organize them himself. He doesn't have many close friends because I was always too busy to have other kids over to play. He won't attend Sunday School because he has no friends there at all. We've missed a lot of church over the last 4-5 years and the friendships never developed.

But there are no do overs.

I don't know where to start now. I have one year before he starts high school and I'm terrified that I haven't instilled the right values in him. I'm afraid that he's going to start hanging with the wrong crowd, that the grades will go down and there will be trouble. I just want it to be 1996 again so that I can have that little baby again and I can do it right.

But there are no do overs.

I sat in church this past Sunday and poured out my heart to God during the communion service, begging him to help me. I'm so fearful that I will lose this beautiful boy that I was given to a world that is ugly and dark. I need for Him to tell me what to do, only I don't know how to hear His voice. I just feel so inept. Like I'm not smart enough to figure this out and at the same time I know I don't have to figure it out because He already has. I'm floundering and all I want is to find the right path.

Because you know what? There are no do overs.


Carpoolqueen said...

I hear your voice in this post so loudly that I wonder if it's my own. I can ditto and amen everything you've said. I prayed that same prayer last night.

No words of wisdom, but a "you're not alone at all". None of us are perfect. All of us have regrets.

My mom still has regrets she voices, but she ultimately says "I did the best I could with what I had." And that's all we can do.

We can mold and pray and provide, but ultimately the choice is theirs to make. They cut the umbilical cord for a reason. It's their life. Not ours or how we would want them to live it.

Pray. Be consistent. Set expectations. You know, the same things you have been doing and know to do.

I am with you in spirit and in truth today. It's tough.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I've read this post twice now and am feeling your discouragement.

I guess I most want to say that I think we all live with regrets. Time passes so quickly and it's so easy to focus on all the things we haven't done. I'm guilty of that.

I just don't want you to be down on yourself. No mom is perfect.

I agree with Susan. Pray, set expectations, be consistent. Cherish the happy moments. And don't give up. Fight for your son. I think that will speak volumes.

I will pray. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Hang in there, friend. Don't lose heart!

Amber said...

I feel your heart in every word of this post. Thank you for writing this. Really...thank you. Because you've reminded me to take the time while my boys are still little. I'll be praying for you.

Kellie said...

I am not in the teenage years, but I can totally feel your pain.

The good news is that we are never without hope...yes,there are no do-overs, but there is mercy in the morning. He's still young, and your seeking the best Person for advice.

hang in there!

Joanne (The Simple Wife) said...


God's mercies are new every morning. He says so and we can hold him to his Word.

Hang in there, praying for you!


Gretchen said...

This speaks so loudly to my own heart, Mary.

But you see...for me, I count on do-overs. For me, His mercies are the do-overs. I may not have that same 13 years to go back to, but I can move forward. I can teach my son (who will be 13 in July) that he doesn't have to be perfect, because I'm so very imperfect. I can teach him to pray. I can teach him forgiveness of self and others by modeling it in my oh so rotten at times way. Your son knows you love him. That's enough for today.

Really...are we the same woman?

I've been beating myself up all week, especially over my son. Maybe I should turn the comment I left you onto myself.


Keri Wyatt Kent said...

I have to echo what Joanne said--yes there are do-overs. You get one each morning when you open your eyes. The message of grace is that you get a do-over. And it is not too late. Instead of focusing on regrets, focus on the positive--in your son and your self!One day at a time. Make sure you say "Good job" and "I really like the way you..." at least twice a day. Tell your son something positive every day.

I'm also the mom of a 13-yr. -old boy, and a 15-year-old girl. It's not easy but, just as you have to when they are toddlers, catch them doing good, and notice their strengths.