Steady through the storm

February 7th, 2013

Weathering teenage moods

He was angry about having to go to the photo shoot that day. Feeling rushed and ambushed by my agenda, which was to have a black and white portrait of him to match the two recently taken of his brothers by my friend Noelle at their elementary school.

It was an early evening, late last May, and he was not quite thirteen and a half. My father used to say I could kill him with my glare at that same age. I would feel terrible when he said it. I didn’t know where the rage came from,  only that I hated him in those moments–yes, hated–and the violence of it frightened me. For years, he could shame me with recollections of my teenage moods, as if I had been in control of my emotions at the time. As if I really wanted to hurt him, whom I adored.

Sometimes it was unclear to me which of us was the child. From earliest memory, whatever emotion I expressed, my father had to express more of it. When I cried, he cried. When I was angry, he was angry. Who was in control? I never knew. As a mother, I resolved I would never hold my teenager’s moods against him, never take it personally, any more than I did his colic or tantrums when he was small. It wasn’t always easy in those first months of thirteen. Suddenly the adoring child is pushing away, contemptuous, exasperated, enraged. It feels personal.

Once, I forgot myself, abdicated as the grown up, and said, “You hurt my feelings,” then walked away and sulked. It didn’t feel good. I wasn’t drawing a healthy boundary. It wasn’t the same as saying, “Hey, I love you, but you can’t speak to me that way.”  I was punishing. I’ll show you who can be thirteen.

You might as well lock yourself indoors all summer because of storms. Because that’s all they are, these clashes. One front meeting another. His will up against mine. A flash of rage, a slammed door. We glare. I crack a smile. He rolls his eyes, but the corners of his mouth are already lifting. Then, sunshine.

Blue sky.

And sometimes rainbows.

I can’t believe thirteen has already turned to fourteen. Thanks to Noelle for these beautiful photos, capturing the early part of this new chapter of parenting. They remind me of the set of black and whites we had made when this same kid was just a few months old. In lots of ways, everything about being a mom feels new again. It’s an amazing time.

7 Responses to “Steady through the storm”

  1. Lindsey says:

    I love these pictures, these words, this heralding of a new season, the same one I’m walking into. xo

  2. Amy B. says:

    I really don’t think boys are ever as horrid as girls during those teen years. Girls are masters of the hormonal rage, the irrational sulk, the inbred antipathy.

    For all my brother’s many many many many shortcomings (which I can still gladly rattle off without so much as a pause to draw breath), I know he was never as nasty to my parents, especially my mother, as I was.

    But none of that matters, because this child of yours is one of the most kind, most calm, and coolest kids there ever was. He will definitely always be more sunshine than rain.

    • You know that makes me smile…I agree, but I am as biased as only a mother can be. :-) Also, do you see the lovely Lisa Leonard pendant on my neck in these photos? It is one of my very favorite things ever. xoxo

  3. Tamara says:

    Loved this post Kyran as well as the pictures. I have four teenagers in my house – two boys and two girls. Interesting time indeed.
    Yet it seems as there are the storm clouds, there certainly are just as many if not more of those wonderful rainbows. It is a lovely time in which to catch glimpses of both the children there were/are and the amazing young adults they are becoming!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Corrine says:

    Kyran, I love this post and it really spoke to my heart and the pictures are swoon worthy! I have a just turned 14 year old son and I often remind myself of what I was like at 14. Every time I do it helps me handle his “storms” better.

  5. Francie says:

    I found your blog through the AR Women Bloggers site, and I’m so glad I did. This post really touched me. I’m going through some attitude issues with my youngest son right now. It’s brutal. Some days I just want to hide in a closet and stick a straw in a bottle of wine.

    Thank you for the gentle reminder that, although I can’t control his sullen behavior and foul moods, I can control my reaction.

  6. karen says:

    I really appreciate this post Kyran. I have an almost 12 year old son and man oh man, it’s challenging. I really needed to read this to remind myself that I am indeed the adult. Here’s to healthy boundaries!

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