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 Insight, Teens

Existential Mothering

If a mother gets her hair cut & colored, and no one notices, does she exist?

Kelly Salasin

Yesterday I arrived home with my annual birthday cut & color and no one said a word.  Over dinner, I complained that I didn’t exist.

I noticed,” said my youngest son, “I just thought…” and he made a disgusting face.  His idea of a mother is a stationary object that remains the same.

I like it.  I noticed it right away,” said my husband. “I just didn’t think it was a good time to say anything.

I had berated him when he arrived home from work– an hour late– without our youngest who he had forgotten to pick up from school.

I can’t tell the difference,” my oldest said, and then quickly modified his response when I dramatically explained that my hair had been shoulder length that morning and was now close to my chin!

Well, you just look really good tonight,” he said, “but until you told me, I didn’t know what it was.”

He then added that if I wanted him to “notice” my hair, that I should go to a chop shop, like Super Cuts, where there would be no mistake that my “look” had been altered.

I left the dinner table to  marvel at my new haircut in the bathroom mirror– by myself.

Posted in Insight, Sexuality, Teens

Pass on the Porn

“I think I’ll skip the porn…
because I want to learn about real girls and close relationships…
because I want to be full of energy, not moody, depressed or anti-social…
because I know that porn can make sexual frustration worse
because I want to get a life.”

from Northampton No Porn

with link to: How to Talk to Your 11 Year-Old Son about Porn

Posted in Insight, Nuts & Bolts, Teens

The Necessity of Chores

If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.
~Abigail Van Buren

I’m feeling pretty radical about the necessity of chores these days–both for children and teens–but especially teens.  And not just to establish good habits or to build a work ethic, though those are worthy goals.

What I’m finding most important about chores for teens is the “grounding” aspect of them.

As a Let  Your Yoga Dance instructor, I see much of living in terms of “energy,” and in my experience, it’s the very first chakra that is linked to teens and chores.  The first chakra is described in this way by author/teacher, Anodea Judith:

Located at the base of the spine, the first chakra forms our foundation. It represents the element earth, and is therefore related to our survival instincts, and to our sense of grounding and connection to our bodies and the physical plane.

You don’t have to be a chakra expert to realize that a sense of grounding and connection is vital during the turbulent expansion of adolescence.

If your teen has a regular chore schedule, then you already know that his participation leads to connection, and that this connection leads to belonging, and that his sense of belonging creates greater harmony in the home.

Teens can be so prickly that many would rather leave them to their own rather than have the hassle around participation.  But I think the hassle is worth it–for both the teen and the family. Better yet, get these chore habits in place before your kids come of age, and then it’s pretty much auto pilot.

(More next time on establishing routines so that chores are hassle free–well, almost.)

To read more on teens and chores, click here.

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…