When You Miss The Child Standing Right In Front Of You


I am sitting on the front stoop, coffee cup in hand, daydreaming about a little cherry cheeked boy. The one that used to race up the front lawn (world around him be damned) in order to wrap himself in a Mom hug.


He could not get to me, then the center of his universe, fast enough.

Breathless with awe over his bestest kindergarten day ever, he spilled the beans on his older sister misbehaving at recess. Then he handed me a crumpled creased Mother’s Day picture with a giant heart and an “I Love you” with a perfect backwards L.

I now watch this same child, I mean man-child (15-year-old to be exact) saunter past me with nary a glance.

I detect a grunt however.  I believe it’s in response to my same stupid and annoying question, “How was your day?”

Being ignored fuels the feeling-challenged response in me.

I try to work the crowd (you, my oldest son) much like a comedian fires jokes at a non-responsive audience.

“Did the coach say anything in practice today about the line-up for next week’s game?”


“I like the new logo on your shirt.”

Barely perceptible nod.

We do our Mother-Son dance, our new daily ritual.  I talk. You balk.  I show interest. You show disdain. I cry when you’re not looking. I think I am in some kind of mourning as if I have lost you. Yet you stand here before me so that makes little sense.

Then again it makes all the sense in the world.

I am clinging obsessively to the past when you cuddled and snuggled and gave me raspberries kisses and memorized Good Night Moon. When you climbed into our bed at the first crack of thunder and had me perform nightly bogeyman checks.  

The tooth fairy and I had a fabulous relationship. I miss her too! And those crayola drawings made with those little hands. The ones aging in folders I still cannot part with. Poor Santa was dissed over 7 years ago! It seems an injustice.

I raised you to be a proud and compassionate and independent young man.  That is exactly who you are becoming.

Instead of celebrating your incredible victory (and mine), I remain steadfastly stuck in the past.

I would appreciate if you would bear with me.  When you become a Dad, I think you’ll understand.

I am struggling to separate and allow you to test your wings.  I am afraid I already know that you can fly.  I am scared to death that you will fly away, far away and never want to nest again.

 I guess I want you to stay on the ground for a little while longer.  I know it’s selfish to ask you to oblige and comply with my mom angst.  I have laid out my emotional dilemma. It seems of epic proportions.

Perhaps I need counseling. Someone to talk me through raising a teenager.


Did you roll your eyes at me just now?  Mind if I count that as interaction between us? I mean in order to roll your eyes you must have been listening and that stands for something right?  Your eye roll was accompanied by some mumbled words. I feel we are making progress!

You rummage through the snack drawer.

My mom instinct? I want to offer you a juice box and some fruit roll-ups like the old days. I leave you to scavenge.

I am left behind in your wake of Oreo’s and Doritos.

Remind me one more time.  When did you stop checking under your pillow for the tooth fairy’s change? Why wasn’t I notified?

Our paths cross again in the evening. I remind you it’s time for electronics to be turned off for the night.  Please say goodnight to your friends.  I am still the parent around here and there are rules and this is my house and you need to follow them!

I didn’t say any of that although if I had I would have sounded strikingly similar to my mother (minus the electronics remark) whom I swore I would never become. Surprise!

In my 3 a.m. wakefulness, I decide that a different approach is necessary if we are both to survive your adolescence.

The wind whips around making the bleachers feel awfully cold today.  Look at you out there in your new baseball jersey!  My fingers are crossed and I say my silent prayer that you don’t get hurt. Everything else is icing on the cake.

A Double!

I am Happy Dancing!  Not that you can see of course. I recall the peer pressure lecture.  Don’t worry. I will not embarrass you. It’s a silent dance. It takes place alone in my heart.

 Game over and the team disbands.  I head towards the car.  I used to run on the field ten times per game with water and wipes and questions about having to pee.  And hugs too! Loads of those.

Are you heading towards me?

Do I hug you? (Peers might be lurking.) No, I pat you on the shoulder, right? Say, “Good game, bud!”

I’m way overthinking this.

Whoa whoa whoa!!! Did you just kiss me?

“Thanks for coming to my game, Mom. I’ll be home in a little while.”

When you were a little kid you ran up the lawn. That’s what you were meant to do.  As a teenager you saunter up the front lawn with puffed out swagger.

That’s what you’re meant to do.  It’s about growing up. I don’t have to like it all the time. I do have to accept that it will happen with or without my consent.

You know what? I may surprise you someday. I’ve decided to adopt a new mindset. The little boy I loved came happily home each day. The grumpy teenager I love begrudgingly so.

But in the end all that matters is that you still come home, and it’s here that I can make all the difference in the world!

This post originally appeared on Her View From Home.

When you're raising teenagers, you miss your kid. Even when he is right in front of you. #raisingteens #teenagers #filterfreeparents


  1. Lisa. Thank you. For telling the truth, your truth. Me, I’m singing your same song, wearing your same sweater, driving your same car; raising the same kid as you. By telling your story, the same story so many of us share, you do us such a great service. I read an essay just yesterday written by a mom about her boys and it was the most saccharine, most far from real life thing I’ve read in awhile and I turned away from the screen and shook my head; she let me down. She let so many down. The truth is what sets us all free, what connects us and empowers us. More truth. More you, please!

  2. I have a 14 yr. old boy…..and man have you pegged it!!! You so beautifully summed it up. Thank you. These days I often wonder when I became the target for his disdain. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

  3. My 16 year old son has had the worst year possible (suicide risk, new serious girlfriend, failing school, refuses therapy etc). I no longer recognize my sweet little boy in him, I no longer recognize him. I have three other teens, one older, two younger and a 6 year old girl. They are all still there, I recognize them. This story really had me in tears.

  4. Thank you for this , today I would hug a little longer, read that extra book and just soak in my little boy for I know sometime soon this would be me!

  5. Yep, mine will be 13 very soon and started some of that at 10. He’s back to the occasional hug…sometimes even in public (gasp). I know 15 is coming soon though. I work hard to make sure I give him his space and struggle some with knowing when to insert my foot in the door and when to let it close. While I prefer the teen boy over the teen girl so far we are not done yet so we’ll see how it goes over the next few years. He’s my last and probably my hardest to let go of. Thanks for the honesty. Its good to know the other mom’s are going through similar experiences. Those sweet little boys grow up way too fast!!

  6. I have a 14 yr old boy and wow you did just describe everything. It is hard especially cause i was a single parent for the 1st 9 years just me and him.

    • I have a 14 yr. old as well. Boy thats right on. Wasn’t he just eight? He was short and chunky, now he has grown up and thinned out. I don’t even recognize him sometimes. I just remember my little boy! Always wanting my attention, now only the attention his friends can give him. Always out. It’s strange when he walks in unexpected, I’m delighted. “Oh, your home” I say. But then he’s back out soon enough. Sleepovers. I thought girls did that. I was wrong. I’m just so thankful that when he leaves, he always says “I love you”.

  7. I describe this stage EXACTLY as you said it… I feel like I’m in mourning. I feel like my beautiful cuddly, loves me more then anything little boy has died. He was replaced with a emotionless, uncaring, 15 year old that never leaves his room. I’m in mourning for that little boy. I don’t know how to navigate this new version. Who is he? Cleanly that little bit must be in there somewhere right?? No, no he’s not. No hugs, no kisses, no conversations, no interest. I don’t even know this young man, and not from lack of trying. He won’t talk me anything, doesn’t care to engage with any of the family. He gets perfect grades, is well behaved, doesn’t so drugs… but he’s emotional vacant. My heart breaks.

  8. I feel fine about our new relationship mostly. There are twinges of sadness and loss here and there but I am so proud of the man he is becoming. All of that to say, your writing had me in tears. So much truth in these words and I thank you for sharing them. I clearly had some hidden angst that was ready to be release! xo


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