To the Young Lady who Dates My Teenage Son: A Mom's Emotions & Expectations

Nothing could have prepared me for the moment you actually showed up. I knew at some point girls would come around, but when it was real, when my kid tells me he has a girlfriend… well, I was not expecting to react the way I did: I’m SO not ready for this.

And so I felt compelled to write an honest and open letter about how a mom might feel the first time her son dates a girl, some things that girl should probably know.

This is difficult for me.

If I seem skeptical or uneasy, or if you find me going quietly mad in the corner of my kitchen drinking directly out of a bottle of some variety of alcohol, don’t take it personally. This is extremely new parenting territory for me, and trying to figure out how to best handle it doesn’t really have anything to do with you. It’s a helluva lot of new emotions that have come barging in without warning. I am not always the best at handling those, so I may seem a little weirded out. Because I am. (And I’ll confess that you can make it easier by saving the PDA for when I’m not around).

I’m not entirely sure what to say to him.

Since I’m not (nor ever have been) a teenage boy, I can’t really relate to his perspective. That’s kind of his dad’s department. I try to make sure he knows how to properly treat a lady, but when it comes to some real deep advice, I don’t have much. He should know to keep the boundaries set and respect yours. Basically, if I failed to mention something important to him, it’s not because I don’t care, but probably because I wasn’t sure how. Maybe that means I should try harder. Maybe I should know what to say. But my experience on raising a teenage boy is zero. So I’m learning new things too.

I have raised my son to do what is right.

I sure hope you have been also, and together, you both continue with doing what is right rather than trying out things that are wrong (this would include sticking any needles full of drugs into your arms, picking on people smaller and/or weaker than you, or breaking the law in general). He should also be treating you appropriately and respectfully. If he demeans or behaves badly toward you in any way, feel free to tell on him.

I hope we can be friends.

I want to like you, I want us to get along. I am not out to make you my enemy because I think you are here to “take my son away from me.” But I hope that you respect me enough to be straightforward about who you are, what you like, and what you two are doing together, so that I can trust you, and hopefully, get along with you on more than a surface level. Go ahead, ask me personal questions, strike up a conversation. I don’t ever want to make you feel unwelcome or that I dislike you just on the general principal.

My son is unique.

He’s different and quirky and you must like that if you’re dating him. I really hope you don’t try to change him. He may still be learning some basics on appropriate social behavior, and feel free to tell him when he’s acting like a genuine idiot, but he is who he is, and I hope you appreciate that to the fullest. I certainly hope that you are not letting him change you either. Stay true to yourself, your hopes and dreams and desires for your future.

I remember what it was to fall in love for the first time.

And second. And third. You may think you are in love, you may very well be, but you have so many more years ahead of you to discover who YOU are before committing to a life with a man (which, by the way, my son is not yet, even if he thinks he is). Remember who you are without him (and remind yourself of that when you might want to break your curfew for just 5 more minutes together). The most important thing I have learned so far in this life is that YOU are the most important person to love you and to make you happy. No man will ever provide something that you must find within yourself.

I won’t tell you not to break his heart.

I can’t tell him not to break yours either. It’s kind of inevitable. Even if by some miracle you two end up getting married, at some point one of you will break the other’s heart. You are both very inexperienced in this department, and part of learning how to make a relationship work is to do it wrong. It is the only way we become better at doing the really important and difficult stuff in life. I certainly don’t wish pain on either of you, but most likely it will happen, even if you don’t mean it to. Here’s the thing. Despite whomever’s “fault” it may be, please don’t be mean. Don’t make it worse by trying to hurt him for hurting you.

Someday you may understand why I am telling you all this. If eventually you have a teenage son of your own, I guarantee you will have no idea what hit you when it does. Nothing prepares you for the moment your child ACTUALLY grows up.

And finally, if you are a young lady that my son has decided to date, then you must be pretty special too. At least, that’s what I hope.

Photography by Wreckless Creative