Posted by: sistermom1 | January 20, 2011

Raising Our Adolescent Son

We have arrived at the end of the first semester and are in exam week.  This is our son’s freshman year in high school.  I have written before about the challenges that have come with my diagnosis — especially my own struggle regarding sending our kids to the best schools (no – “best” does not mean “private”  — at least not anymore!) 

Although I often write about my own challenges, and do think and pray about how my illness has impacted our family, I do not often write about my children and their reaction to my diagnosis.  We did share my diagnosis with both kids back in 2005, and have made a point to be open and honest about how MS affects me every day.  As I have become wheelchair-bound, my husband and I have tried to be even more sensitive to their understanding and/or need to discuss their concerns. 

Last month, we even had a family evaluative session with a nationally-known therapist to determine how the kids are processing the reality of my illness.  That session was positive, and the bottom line was that they are both handling things pretty well – and are willing to talk about it pretty openly.  (To be honest, the major concern revealed by the doctor was for the health and happiness of my spouse, who is the fulcrum of this entire project called “Our Life”.  He literally keeps the trains running, which most mothers know is more than a full-time job.)

Last night, I was playing a game called Table Topics with my children and one of their good friends.  This is a simple game that I highly recommend.  (You can get one at www.tabletopics.com)   Through the random drawing of cards with different questions, we end up sharing how we feel about any number of things.  My son drew a card with the question: “What experience has strengthened you the most?”  Along with our daughter sharing a challenging experience from the summer (it was a bit of a surprise that she shared it — more on her later!), our son openly and calmly shared his answer — “When you were diagnosed with MS”.  It surprised me, and left me a bit sad, but after a few moments, I began to reflect on his growth and maturity since my diagnosis. 

Now don’t get me wrong – he is a real 14 year old male child.  Texting his friends from his old middle school, playing video games, basketball, XBOX, goofy You Tube videos, and downloading music for his IPOD are definitely his primary concerns.  He is managing his freshman year relationships successfully without needing (or asking for!) my help.  His independence of course, is difficult for me to handle, but I am working on keeping track of his life and his development while keeping the communication door wide open.  I am learning from my husband, who is much better than I am at this (more on THAT in another entry!).

I have realized in the past months that raising both of our children has truly become such a joy — I appreciate it so much more than I ever had in the past, despite MS (or maybe because of it?).   Although I am not the center of the family schedule as I was used to being, I am learning how to be connected with my kids in a far more meaningful way.  I had a great conversation with our son about that table topic.  Our conversations have become much deeper and no longer revolve solely around the administrative details of his life — things like what time is practice, what needs to be done next, what is your homework, etc….

I am seeing a more positive side of the challenges that I am facing — alone and alongside my family.  Because of my physical limitations, life is very different than I ever expected.  Current reality has forced me to develop in different parts of my life than I normally would.  I used to be so great at keeping the trains running — getting the kids where they needed to be when they needed to be there, and with a happy Mom face!   Of course, that required me being able to walk and drive.  Now that I can’t do that (I also used to talk at length on the cell phone, and multi-task my work assignments while driving the kids back and forth) I have had to be more creative about the quality of time I spend with our kids.  Also, my daughter chooses to help me with so much when we are together.  She is really mindful of my needs (especially about whether the doors of the accessible bathroom open the right way) and never seems to get tired of it. 

I am truly blessed to have great relationships with my kids.  This illness has much that is ugly about it, and so much that I do not like, but working through it has led me to many things — including a different, stronger, and more positive relationship with both of my children

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Responses

  1. Linda – love your latest blog (1/20). Keep it going. You are right where you are supposed to be! You are brilliant, loving, and an AWESOME DIVA!


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