I've been having an especially hard time with our youngest. He was always "Mama's" boy. Even at his most temperamental in his preschool years, Mom was the one he was slightly more willing to listen to. I was the one who covered his ears during fireworks shows, holding his head to my chest to help him feel secure while watching the bright lights.
At times, this was itself a burden, when I was elected to manage him in difficult moments. He would still react negatively to the medicine, or consequences, or disappointment. Just less so if it came from me than his Dad.
When he turned 10, it seemed to me like he was irritable all the time. It got so that his Dad became the enforcer of discipline instead of me, as the old dynamics reversed 180 degrees. Barley tried to apologize to me one day after a particular blowup (we have similar temperaments, btw, so we can both blow up at the same time. DH and Teddy duck for cover), by telling me he was sorry, then explaining, "Lately, you just annoy me every time you talk..." That didn't really make me feel better, but it did make me laugh that day.
On the eve of a trip out of the country, which I am secretly looking forward to escaping all the teen drama in the house, Barley and I are irritating each other again, just as usual. With Mother's Day around the corner, I keep thinking about how little he really loves me at all. I don't like looking at old photo albums which just remind me of the closeness we have lost. Today I commented to him that it really makes me sad how he doesn't really love me as much as he used to. For once he didn't take the opportunity to reply sarcastically, and instead, he said,
"No, I still love you just as much as always. I just don't express it anymore."
Did he come and give me a hug and affirm how much he really does love me and will miss me while I'm gone? No, of course not. He's still a teenage punk. But that was definitely the nicest thing he's said to me in a very long time. I had to write that one down.