The other day my oldest son came home from school and asked what this “puberty soup” is that he’s been hearing so much about lately. I questioned him about what he meant, and I realized that I had misheard him; he had said, “puberty stuff”.
Personally, I think “puberty soup” is more accurate.
We’ve had some honest discussions about how our bodies change as we walk over the adolescent bridge from childhood into adulthood. I have found that my eleven year old finds the biology of physical change fascinating, but he’s not so certain about the emotional and relational changes. I get it.
It reminds me of when he was first born, and I was a mess. My body was all flabby, puffy, leaky, and just plain old weird—that was my exterior. My interior was a different kind of mess: I couldn’t not feel sad; I couldn’t not feel the weight of work someone so small required. Despite the haze of sleep deprivation, there was something else I couldn’t quite name—some indistinct filter of sadness that kept me apart from truly holding this infant and soaking him up.
I did not experience the glow of new motherhood. It’s like the little kite strings I had been using to keep my interior self grounded were snapping, and it scared me. I didn’t look how a Christian mother was supposed to look. I was breaking.
I can’t help but look at the women I’ve come from, and I see the sadness in their eyes—the isolation of not being what they felt they were supposed to be as Christian women, wives, and mothers. I see the weight of guilt at not being filled with joy. I see the weight of working ever harder to reach redemption.
Making a longish story short, I was depressed. I started some anti-depressant medication, some therapy, tried to get more solid sleep, and slowly, ever slowly, I began to emerge from the ashes. I could see more clearly. I could put things in perspective. I could smile a genuine smile. I could see the Light. I could watch this little boy-nugget grow and turn into a person.
While I am completely honest with my sons about my history of depression, I want them to know, it wasn’t them—it was me. This start of our relationship was the start of my healing. They have been a part of my transformation and my redemption. Without them, I would have thought it was normal to struggle, but now I know it’s not.
I love that we can have conversations about such a crap-ass time in my life, and without missing a beat, my oldest can then move onto the oddity of the impending growth of body hair. He can speak unabashedly about how strange this “puberty soup” is as we see it play itself out in other kids we know; who might need to start shaving, who has some crazy armpit hair (aside from any male parent who may or may not be involved in this conversation), what weird things our bodies do as we grow into our adult-selves.
It’s the honesty that we can talk about our physical and emotional transformations and know that under all of it, we are loved, we are redeemed, and we are in it together.