Uncertainty is a fundamental characteristic of weather and teenagers.
This morning is sunny, dry, and windless. The clouds are playing hooky from the watery blue sky and the birds are singing. My weather app tells me that it is exactly 63 degrees Fahrenheit. With a touch of the screen I also know: the humidity is low, at 65 percent and the wind is moving at eight miles per hour, or what I might feel on my face when leisurely pedaling a bicycle. The forecast for today is wonderful: there is zero chance of rain and later this afternoon the temperature will rise to a balmy 81.
Unfortunately, there’s no app to predict the moods of teenagers.
The weather is fluid and ever changing, much like my son. Not only do I see physical changes in my 12-year-old, but emotional and social changes, too. In other words, my son can be soooo moody.
He’s sad one minute, happy the next. He’s angry with me – something I said, and storms off. Later, he returns, says that he’s sorry. His emotional disturbances are like the waxing and waning of the moon; the ebb and flow of the tide. I fear that I’m ill-prepared for the wave of moods that lie ahead. At times I’m stunned trying to figure out what to say to my son that won’t drive him further away. Other times, I wait for my 4’9″ hurricane to weaken to a “Category 1.” Eventually, the storm blows over and everyone is happy again.
Like a blustery day, my son’s anger and sadness makes me feel uncomfortable.
When he was a baby there was a night or two (probably more than I can remember) that he cried and cried, despite every comfort I gave him. I wanted to make him feel better and couldn’t. There was no escape from the endless colicky, croupy nights. Eventually, however, those nights became fewer and I relied less on Dr. Spock and whiskey (for me, not the baby!). As James grew, other unpredictable things took the place of one discomfort after another: ear infections, pinkeye, bronchitis, Fifth disease, scrapes, sprains, worry, embarrassment, and more. Sickness, injury, hardship, and mood swings are the unpredictable encounters of growing up.
How long does the moody climate of teenagers last?
I had an “Aha!” moment after reading a line by author Katrina Kenison in her book The Gift of An Ordinary Day. “Adolescence is a mutinous confusing time when everyone’s trying to get off the boat.” As a mom, I know I’m going to feel discomfort, stuck, and unhappy with my teenager and want to leap out of the boat. I won’t know how long the ride will last, but I have two choices: Resist or lean into uncertainty.
I’m beginning to understand that if I resist change, I only invite more tears and frustration. But if I lean in and let uncertainty flow through me, I just might be able to navigate the weather and my son.
“The future is no more uncertain than the present.” – Walt Whitman
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