Growing Pains

By Tim Walker

Lately, I’ve been leaking my emotions. A lot. And what’s been spilling out has been dousing my sons. (If you’re not sure, what I mean by “leaking,” read this post.)

I’ve been really short with them. Annoyed. Frustrated.
And I think I know the reason.

It goes beyond shoes scattered in the house or socks on the floor.
Or even the random, “sass mouth” response.
I think I’m ticked at them for growing up.

I know, it sounds kind of, well, stupid.
After all, I want them to grow up.
I want them to become responsible, God- and people-loving men.
But there’s just something about the process of growing up that gets under my skin.

I’ve already walked through some of it with my now fifteen-year-old son. There are things that he does that bug me—like when he holes up in his room, or moves at the speed of fading light. But then I remember how much time I spent in my room when was a teen—listening to music, reading, reorganizing. Well, the reorganizing part wasn’t normal. But other than a handful of recurring grievances, I’ve mostly settled in to this new “normal.”

But now my two youngest are in middle school—sixth grade. And I can feel the “more” coming on—more independent, more opinionated, more attitude. They are great kids, but they’re not little boys anymore.

And their will is starting to bump against mine more often.

It’s a father/son thing. a little bit of power struggle.
It’s trying to find the balance between “I’m the authority” and “I will let you grow without crushing you.”
A balance that sometimes gets a little off when I react out of emotion.

Sure, there are perks that come with your kids getting older.
Potty-trained kids is a good thing.
Kids who can help out around the house is a plus.

But the reality of a chapter closing is sometimes sad. And when that sorrow hits, it sometimes manifests itself in annoyed, even angry ways.

I overreact to a random comment.
I hyper-focus on everything, instead of giving them a little grace to be grumpy, disappointed or even sad.

At times, I feel like I’ve turned on them a little bit. Like dad moved from friend to opponent. It’s not my intention, or even my heart’s desire.
It’s all emotion based on fear.

Fear of this new stage that relies on trust more.
Fear of this point in life when things are less easily controlled.
Fear that they will have to rely on what they know sometimes.
Fear that they will think they know everything.

Some of those fears are reality. They will think they know everything. They will be faced with challenges and have to rely on what they’ve been taught.
But as they change, I have to change too.

Gone are the days when we played Justice League action figures or Legos for hours.
Slowly fading are the times when they are glad to see me come in the door every day, or want to snuggle up to me on the couch.

And it’s all natural. It’s all part of the process.
I just have to adjust.

So not only are my kids growing up, hopefully I am too.
And instead of being angry about what is no more, I need to simply cherish those times and look with them to the next.

Tim Walker is a husband, father of three boys, editor, writer, superhero—well, you get the idea. More of Tim’s words can be found at www.timswords.com.