I have read that teenagers’ brains
want to learn through hunger, thirst, and desire.*
This is not something they do on purpose
to annoy us. They are chemically altered
because of their age and the enormous amounts
of growing going on in their brains.
They are drawn to things
that require everything of them.
They are tugged by sacrifice and meaning.
They do not even know this is happening.
They are pulled with a force they do not understand,
to crawl and scrape and hang from their knuckles
to get in at that window. They will not remember this
in the morning. They will not be the same person
tomorrow. Worlds are collapsing around them,
and being forged at the same time. Everything
is all or nothing, or who cares?
I remember so little of my youth, except the hunger,
and the longing for something other than what I had.
I remember drama for days, and not wanting it,
but not being able to escape it. I yearned for belonging,
for being someone’s everything, anyone’s anything,
just not me, here, alone with this brain on fire. Please.
I was given many rules, and narrow paths to tread,
and failure was inevitable. Shame and loathing
followed shortly thereafter, followed by screw it,
and indulgence at an escalated level for a very long time.
As a mother, I try everything to keep from pushing
my kids into rebellion. There are hardly any rules, and
wide paths, much freedom to express, be and be happy,
eat plenty of good food, read great books,
Play games, wrestle, explore, create.
All I want is for them to be happy, so I have
a teenager who rebels sometimes by hating everything.
Because Rebellion isn’t a choice either, it is
hardwired obstinacy and required contrariness.
It is distancing me from you, to create a me
I can call my own. And I have to question everything.
I have to rip apart this fabric you have created
because I want to see the threads,
and does the Center Hold?
And will you still love me however far I push you?
This is the balancing act of motherhood, remembering
enough of my own defiance to trust
my children to wage their battles fiercely,
to come into themselves in all their glory.
We have set up one main rule of life,
that they come back for hugs from time to time,
because they know I need them.
Photo from here