Fifteen can be quite an intense age.
I remember. I was fifteen and a half when my parents uprooted me from my beloved Pennsylvania and made me start a brand new life in Indiana. Talk about shock. I left my house, my familiar neighborhood, all my friends, my dreams, the church I grew up in, my high school, and even my two older brothers. I cried every night for at least a month or two after I moved.
As an adult, I know that change is good and only makes us stronger and more resilient. But as a fifteen-year-old, I didn't have enough life experience to understand that. I'd never felt such a life-changing loss before then, so my emotions seemed to magnify themselves. I started writing poetry, a tedious, careful process to find just the right words to express the inner world of turmoil inside me. Those poems brought me comfort as God stirred each one to a hopeful ending, one filled with purpose and welcome change. When I read those poems today, they take me right back to the moment, and I can almost feel those conflicting emotions all over again.
Roughly twenty years later, I brought home a scared fifteen-year-old boy from Colombia and immediately started to call him my son. I missed the first fifteen years of his life, and now I expected (hoped) he'd call me Mom. He'd moved around quite a bit over those first fifteen years of his life, but he'd never had to leave his country, his culture, his language, along with his friends who he considered family because he lived with them. Little by little, he'd already said goodbye to his entire biological family, leaving his older brother for last.
I remember my own intense emotions moving away from all I knew at the age of fifteen, but at least I had my mom and dad by my side. At least my new aquaintances spoke my language and I didn't have to move in with perfect strangers that didn't look or act (or sound or smell) anything like me. Talk about fear taking over and masking everything he said and did for the next year of his life. He didn't share a whole lot that first year, and I can only imagine the intensity of all the emotions he experienced that year of his life.
Now my youngest child, my biological son, is fifteen. And he, too, now experiences some pretty intense emotions. The littlest things can set him off, and he's nearly as sensitive as I was (on those hormonal days!). He went from a little boy to a young man over the last year or so, and our relationship changed drastically. He went from looking up to me and taking value in my advice to suddenly pushing me away and assuring me he's already taken this and that into consideration. He went from letting me care for him when he's sick to shutting the door and begging me to stay out and to stop babying him. A girlfriend slipped into his life over a year ago and took a part of his heart away from me. I have to carefully watch for those fleeting moments when he'll actually still cuddle up next to me or let me hug him, because they don't come naturally anymore.
It's so hard on this mama to watch him grow up so quickly, but at the same time, it's been neat to see how his attention has shifted from his mom to his dad. Rather than cuddling up to Mom to read a book at night, he stays up late on the couch watching movies and football with Dad. Rather than enjoying a morning ride to school with Mom, he gratefully slips quickly out the door each morning to ride with Dad. Rather than building legos or playing games with Mom, he'd rather hang out in the garage to help or learn something from Dad.
Our roles have completely reversed, and I didn't even see the beauty in it until I stopped having a pity party for myself over losing my baby. I am so thankful for the solid relationship David has with his dad and the amount of respect he has for him. As I have grown closer to Juan over the last three years, David has pulled away and grown closer to his dad, and it's a beautiful thing. Yesterday David went outside to help Mike work on Juan's car (something that Juan has absolutely no interest in or even can begin to understand--thus why he's grown closer to me and not Mike), I peeked out the door and captured this.
It was a good reminder to me that even though he's pushing Mom away at this age, it only means that he's pulling Dad in a bit closer.
Fifteen held huge life changes for me and for Juan. I wonder what it will hold for my "little" David. What a difference between my boys. Just when David is wanting to pull away and find himself, that was precisely the age we had to pull Juan in and begin the Mother/Father/Son relationship. Teaching one dependence on a mom and dad while letting the other start to stand more and more on his own. What an interesting job God has given us. I pray for wisdom all the time, hoping we're doing at least something right.
- I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother. Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing. Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.