Posted in Fragile Life, Insight, Mid-Life Mama, Milestone Moments, Sexuality, Teens

Cool Mom (NOT!)

While I generally do not wear my heart on my sleeve, I’m definitely not the “cool” mom that I thought I would be.

My own mother ran “cool.”  I only saw her flinch–twice.  The second time was when I went back to college after Christmas break.   She stood there on the lawn with my young sisters in each hand.  I think she might have been crying.  Maybe it wasn’t about me.  Maybe she wanted to leave too.

My own son just finished his freshman year–at high school.  All along, I’ve enjoyed witnessing his growth–even those terrible twos–and even the turbulent tweens (most of the time.)

Modersohn (visipix.com)

As an added bonus to each new stage of his development is my gain of greater independence. (That’s a good thing for a mom who needs lots of time for thinking her own thoughts.)

But even an independence-loving mom like myself isn’t immune to the pangs of separation. Even if my brain says that it’s a beautiful thing to watch my son grow up, my body has its own interpretation–and my body apparently doesn’t know how to play it “cool.”

Boecklin/detail/visipix.com)

Like the other night when I witnessed my 15 year old move in toward a girl for the first time.

She was seated on a chair, and he sat down on the arm beside her–and then, (and this part was in slow motion) I watched him tilt his shoulder toward hers so that their bodies brushed as his arm dropped alongside her back.

This physical expression of affection blossomed from innocent days of swimming and tennis and talking (and in between, Facebooking.)  It was a nice thing.  It was sweet.  It was good.

Then why did my spine recoil?  Why did my face contort? Why did my breath catch?  And why did I so transparently shudder, turning away to steady myself, that I caught the attention of her uncle who observed my whole internal drama which was meant to be private?

Schiele (visipix.com)

Not “cool.”  Not cool at all.

And now I understand:

The mind, in its linear fashion, can appreciate change–but the body is timeless inside.

That 15 year old young man is still the baby that grew within, and the infant who suckled at my breast, and the boy who held my hand and beamed up at my eyes–promising to live with me forever.

This folding of time makes me dizzy.

Dizzy and transparent.

And that’s so not cool.

Kelly Salasin

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Posted in Sexuality, Takes a Village, Teens

The Sex Post Boomerang

48 hours after I post my piece on Sex and the family, my son comes home from a friend’s house to say,

Mom are you blogging about sex and me?”

I gulp and buy myself some time with a counter accusation, “Are you reading my blogs?”

He wasn’t, but he was sleeping over his friend’s house, and his friend’s mother was reading my blog, and she asked, “How do you feel about your mom writing about you and sex?”

Geez! Is it me or did this mom cross the line?  🙂 I know my blog is public, and it’s only a matter of time before everything I write gets around town, but I thought a fellow mom would have my back.

Maybe it was his back she had.

What did you say?” I ask.

I told her that I don’t read what you write.  I get less upset that way.,” he says.

The post got a lot of hits,” I tell him, hoping to soften the blow.  (He loves anything to do with numbers.) “I could change your name,” I add, but he just shakes his head and heads up to his room.

Later that day, we enforce a family walk along the Connecticut.  It’s an exquisite fall afternoon, with a bright sun and sweatshirt-friendly air. Within moments of crunching down the river path, my teen starts to ask how far we plan to walk.

Look at the leaves,” I suggest.  “There are so many shapes and colors.  Smell them!” He’s not interested– until I suggest a competition.  I give everyone three minutes and a square foot of earth.

There’s controversy over who wins because of different varieties of the same species, but in the end he skillfully identifies: beech, ash, three different maples and four different oaks.

I smile without letting him see, realizing that he still has his deep connection to the woods, even if he prefers his I Pod and X Box at this stage of the game.

After this magical moment, the walk degenerates into an acorn chucking fight between the boys.  Within moments, my nine-year old is whining and my husband and I are yelling. I bring up the Sex post again just to shift the dynamic.

Mom, just stop telling people that I can’t date until I’m 18.  It’s embarrassing,”he says.

Okay,” I say.  “I’ll tell them that you’ve been able to date since you were six– that you’re even allowed to get married right now if you want.

Just don’t say anything, Mom,” he says, without cracking a smile at my great sense of humor.

What about porn?  Can I still talk about that?

Surprisingly, he gives me his approval, as he chucks another acorn at his little brother.

It was just a little egg-corn,” he says, still mispronouncing it the way he did as a little boy.

Families with kids in strollers go by.  Almost everybody on the path has a dog.  “Are we weird because we don’t have a dog?” I ask.

No, we’re just weird period,” my teen says.

You’re supposed to think we’re weird,” I say in defense.  “How else will you leave us?”

By the time we get back into our car to cross the river, we’re rosy cheeked and smiling– until we smell something…

My youngest has stepped in dog poop.

Posted in Sexuality, Teens

SEX!

Kelly Salasin

Sexuality is the hot topic in our house these days–both for my own 20 year old marriage–and for my teen.  Despite our gender differences (ie. he’s a boy, I’m not) my 14 year old seems willing to hear me out when it comes to this particular topic.

Sure, he’ll make a display of disdain–walking away–but he always winds back around to hear more.  Sometimes he even engages so far as to ask a follow up question or offer his own fledgling opinion.

For my part, I either speak frankly or  make a dramatic effort to be stereotypically parental.  For example, I often say, “Don’t worry about dating.  You’re not allowed to date until your 18.”   In this way, I keep him playfully amused and attentive to whatever else absurd (or vital) I may offer.

Every now and then, I get preachy with a half-hour disertation on a topic like pornography.  For that particular one, I use the help of a great article I found posted on the the Northampton (MA) No Porn Site.

The extended conversation on the topic of porn is “painful” enough that I hope it helps him resist that slippery slope of dehumanizing sexuality.  (I offer “the talk” to each of his friends as well.)

Occasionally, I’ll bring a catchy teen info. book home from the library, which he’ll refuse with rolling eyes, but then later pick up to read– cover to cover:  like the the teenage guy’s survival guide–the real deal on girls, growing up, and other guy stuff by Jeremy Daldry.

The Teenage Survival Guide is  funny, cartoonish and even random enough to engage a 14 year old guy; but this read may be a little more bold than some moms can tolerate. (I was surprised to find it on a ban list.)

I know that my son is thinking about all these things, and more significantly– talking about them with his friends–so I want to make sure that he hears other voices too–even explicitly candid ones.

If nothing else, explicit sexuality provides an engaging platform for more conversation between us, like the movie JUNO did, as it comically explored teen pregnancy.

For myself, I’m reading a provocative book by Margot Anand, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy.  It’s been on our marriage shelf for  years but I’ve avoided any reads directly addressing the act of sex.  I’ve always found that kind of thing a little brash– and unnecessary.

And yet, my husband and I are at a stage in our marriage where we want more–not necessarily more sex–and not better sex (20+ years makes for great loving)–but more… intimacy.

A large part of my youth was spent either romanticizing or recreationalizing sex.  Then there was procreation.  Now I want  celebration– of body, mind– AND soul!

Anand’s book addresses the full expression of sexuality— and that’s something I’d like to pass onto my son while I scramble to figure it out for myself.  (Plus Margot is French– and they definitely know how to live life’s pleasures more fully than some of us more uptight Americans.)

I’ve been able to share some of the basic (non-sexual) intimacy exercises from Margot’s book with my 14 year old– in the hope that he’ll be better prepared to experience the fullness of his own sexuality– when he’s about 25  🙂

More to come on the journey…