The Teenager, Reinvented

teenagerIn the Summer of 2011 when MS brutally crashed into our lives on a beautiful, blue-skied, Summer’s weekend, my first thought was, ‘My son. What about my son?’

I was lying on a cold, hard bed in Accident & Emergency at my local hospital, unable to speak properly or walk in a straight line.

He was eleven years old and due back from visiting his dad in London, a round train journey of almost 300 miles. He expected me to be waving at the concourse, holding up a bag of goodies from Marks and Spencer’s.

Instead, I hastily organised a trusted friend to pick him up and take him to my mum’s house where he was fed cookies, milk and platitudes.

Since then, we have traversed the triple-whammy rocky roads of secondary school, the Teenage years and MS. It’s not been easy for either of us. Just when my son needed me as his rock, my foundations were shifting and I was floundering. Life as I knew it was crumbling around us and I was desperately trying to shore up the gaps to no avail.

The answer dawned slowly through the fog of grief and self-pity; rather than cementing the crumbling footings, we could both build anew from the ground up, and that is what we did. We had a lot of very, very honest discussions and also confrontations. We were both learning to live and grow in wholly new ways. It was simultaneously frightening and enlightening.

My son has learned to live with MS as a constant, just as I have, and this saddens me. However (and despite it all), he has matured into a caring and kind young adult and I burst with pride at his achievements.

Over the Summer this year he decided to train at the gym on a regular basis. Now he is in sixth form, he plays for the school’s rugby team and boasts a six-and-a-half-pack, standing tall at well over six foot. He has swapped his favourite Domino’s pizza – extra pepperoni, don’t hold back – for protein snacks, and exudes a glowing sense of confidence and self-determination.

Looking back over the last four years, I couldn’t ask for more.

Hang on, yes, I could.

If he could find a weekend job, my joy would be complete. But that’s another story.

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8 thoughts on “The Teenager, Reinvented

  1. Jadey Fung says:

    Can I just say, PLEASE let the poor boy make his own decisions! I ONLY say this as my parents make me feel like I DONT exist AT ALL! :-(( yes, I STILL live with them, yes I have a chronic illness, no it will NOT win or stop me doing anything!!
    I’m sure your son will be grateful from everything you have done for him! You are the bravest person I have spoken to and everything you have done means a LOT more to people who love you, even if they don’t show it in a normal way!! Just do yourself a favour and let him go! He will love you a a hell of a lot more! 🙂 he will be fine at uni!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hey sweetie, I think you misunderstand me!!
      Honestly, he makes his own decisions and I have always brought him up to be independent and to think for himself. Especially as a single mum with a single son, I have made sure not to mollycoddle him and to send him out into the world. He is not and never will be my carer. I don’t keep him by my side for company. This is why I’m so proud at how determined and independent he is.
      However, he’s not at uni yet! He’s only just turned 16 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      Not sure where this comment came from because I don’t see where the post said anything about making decisions. From your comment, it would appear you are projecting your own feelings about your parents onto other people. Parents of teenagers need to influence and guide the young people they love. And if a child, even an adult child, is dependent on the parents, the child should be grateful and respectful.

      I applaud the writer for being open and honest with her child. I shielded mine too much, trying to be strong, and it did none of us any good.

      • stumbling in flats says:

        Thanks Kerri!
        Exactly the point – we need to guide our children but ultimately let them experience and make their own mistakes. The Teenager has witnessed enough of my MS to be aware of it and how frightening it was for him, especially at a young age and in the middle of an important transition himself. However, I don’t confide my fears in him and ramble on to him about MS and my worries. That just wouldn’t be fair. There’s a line somewhere and I make sure I don’t cross it!!
        I know what you mean about shielding too much and there have been times my mum has told me to be more upfront with him about certain aspects, especially as he gets older.

  2. Judy Epstein says:

    What a joy your Teenager has brought you! He’s risen to the ms occasion with inner strength. You should be proud of him. xo

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I really am!
      We had some wobbles over the years and I was treading the fine line of shielding him from the worst MS stuff but allowing him enough knowledge and all the while he was navigating his own way through secondary school. He’s really blossomed this summer and I have every hope he’s going to grow even more from strength to strength!

  3. Kerri says:

    It sounds like you’ve watched a great transformation take place. It’s wonderful to watch our kids make good decisions. I hope he’s proud of you too.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much!
      It’s been a difficult road but looking back I’m proud at how we both handled the last four years. I think we’ve come out a lot stronger.
      In his own way (as a grumpy teenager, lol), he is proud of me. I think he’s especially proud that I’ve picked myself up and got on with life, despite all the limitations.

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