One of the things that this injury has given me is extra time with my son. For years, during a typical school week, I would get home from work around 6:00 and head out the door to run. For the past few months, though, since I have been side-lined, I have been at home more, spending time with my recently minted teen and watching him become his own person.
When our kids are little, we spend time with them because we have to. They need us – all day long. So we do the things that we, the parents, want to do and and give them, the children, the experiences that we want them to have. Usually, these include going to parks, swimming lessons, and touristy things like visiting a museum or science centre. But as kids get older and become more independent, friendships become more important and, suddenly, they don’t need us around anymore.
I wasn’t ready for this change. My youngest has always been the child who needed me around. Now, he wants to spend time with his friends instead, either online or in real life, and understandably so. But, while he doesn’t realize it, he is still young and needs my guidance. I like being there for him; I want to be a part of his life a little bit longer.
A few weeks ago, it became obvious that he still wanted me to be a part of his life. On the weekend before his 13th birthday, while planning our schedule for the week ahead, as we always do, and I jokingly said, “Oh, look. Tuesday is open. Am I forgetting something?” To this, he smirked and replied, “I want to go see a movie.” After asking if he wanted to text a few friends to see if they could go, he replied, “Nope. I want to see Creed, and I want to go with my mommy. Just you and me.” Creed was one of the last movies on my to-see list. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather just go with friends?” I hoped. “Nope. Just you and me.” So, on his 13th birthday, we saw Creed, just like he wanted.
That’s when it hit me. If I want to stay a part of my teen’s life, I have to do the things that he wants to do, not the things that I want him to do. So, over the holidays, we went to an escape room and the Toronto Christmas Market with his friends, spent time at the indoor driving range, and snowboarded. Even though I don’t golf or snowboard or ski, I am quite happy to stand around and watch him grow and learn. I am even happier that he wants to do these things with me.
As I reflect on the past almost six months and feel sad about the times that I haven’t been able to run, I remind myself of how lucky I am to have this “gift” of time, time that I can invest in my youngest, time that belongs to my teen and me.