In case you didn’t already know, I’m the single mom to a bright, handsome, kind, sensitive 16yo boy. I’ve been sharing with a few friends about us having these “business meetings” and their responses encouraged me to share this with you.
Something that may help to know about our dynamic is that for the past 11 years, even though there have been others, it’s really always been just us. We are pretty close and he shares a lot with me about what’s going on in his life, in his head, in his heart. I’m extremely grateful for it.
As we’re both feeling some pressure about post high school plans, he shared with me this week that he doesn’t believe he knows all he’ll need to know to be prepared out there because of how strict I am about him and who his friends are. (That’s another post for another time, but suffice it to say, I’m a proud, “mean mom” card carrying, dues paying club member who is difficult to budge when I sense shortie – what I call him even though he’s taller than me – is potentially stepping into crazy.)
This had been on my heart toward the end of last year and I wanted to find a way to help him address this preparation in a way that helped him to see himself participating in the process rather than me just telling him what I think he might need to be anticipating in order to get prepared.
In an effort to be sure that he’s still a kid, while training him into readiness for young adulthood, we have weekly meetings to discuss “business”.
Now, to be clear, he doesn’t really have a ton of “business” to handle. He no longer works in fast food, is in a light theatre program that meets a couple of times a week after school and attends two church services a week for his own growth and volunteers at a couple of the services on the production teams as needed.
I’ve never been the kind of mom to think I could handle several sports and activities at one time, even per year. Even though I often overcommitted myself, I knew I didn’t want to do that to him. And since he’s naturally more comfortable around large groups of people than I am, able to recoup from the big crowds and stimulation more quickly, I knew that he would actually need more practice with how to just be at home.
Another thing is that he’s not allowed to tell me that he’s bored. I can’t even with that. My thought is that I’ve got enough to do in the making sure you get what you need, that surely I can come up with something for you to do. I can’t even recall the last time I’ve heard him say this and he’ll tell you that he’d like never to have the experience that comes with my response to the words, “I’m bored” again.
I share those couple of things to say, I know him. Pretty well in fact. No, I probably don’t know every single thing about him, but I’ve been incredibly watchful of who he is over the past decade plus; most of the time out of awe and shock – “Wait, I am his mom!” – but watchful indeed. It is that watching, spending time with him, drawing him out, praying for him, challenging the rebellion, speaking into the insecurity, addressing the manipulation, applying pressure in quick succession with a wooden spoon upon his rear in response to choices made; in all of this I’ve gained the material for how best to lead an effective, “handle your business, business meeting” with him.
HOW OUR BUSINESS MEETINGS WORK
When we’re on, these are good. We’ve only been doing them once a week since the start of this year.
When we first began, I told him the time (usually sometime on Sunday evenings), the location (living room or dining room table) and planned and prayed over the agenda. And the first few weeks were brutal. He came with nothing to write with. I sent him to get something to write with. He came back without something to write on. I sent him back to get something to write on. He answered me with one word responses and as soon as I finished praying or said that that was all, he’d hop up and disappear.
And I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I almost quit after the third week in a row thinking I was wasting my time. And because it was discouraging to show up and give with patience and have him act like I was mixing a poison that I was going to then force him to drink, I had to focus and be diligent and allow myself to continue believing that good would come from these efforts.
Then, we got to our sixth business meeting of the year and he showed up with his agenda, telephone numbers, dates, addresses, his friends’ parents’ names, deadlines, requests, due dates, things for me to consider. And it was just A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I mean, amazing. I think I would’ve cried at how proud I was of him, but I needed to stay on my toes attentive to the meeting matters.
He was handling his business.
WHEN I DON’T HANDLE MY BUSINESS
Hear me people.
It isn’t often easy.
It doesn’t often go smoothly.
It has required effort.
It wasn’t magic that the kid showed up and surpassed my expectations for the meeting, it was that I prepared, prayed and expected for him to. Instead of putting my expectations on him each day – like I’d done so many years before – I had to sit tight, prayerful that he wouldn’t need reminders and handle the things he’d committed to. I had to refrain from adding things that had not been agreed to just because I thought they were important and because technically, I’m the mom and I can tell you…(okay, we’re not going there). It required me to see how I’d coddled or enabled and why and then turn it over to God for help seeing him as a person on loan to me. A child becoming a young man who has his own path that he needs help approaching being well prepared.
I had to approach these meetings thinking differently than I had been.
So, the responsibility still lies mostly with me. When I’m sick or don’t push for the meeting, he does not take it seriously and then it bites back at me because he has leeway to skirt the work. I wish it weren’t that way, but until he internalizes the benefits of these meetings, we’re still at it being something his momma makes him do.
When I’m too tired (has happened), not feeling well (has also happened) or show up ill-prepared (yep, done that too), it affects our entire week. And it should. I’m the leader of our household and even though I’m doing my best to prepare him for what may come, none of it will matter if I’m not living the example I expect him to have for himself when he moves forward into God’s calling for his life.
Now that we both now what it’s like to have a successful, stellar business meeting, it’s the standard we must continue to strive for. And I believe that we’ll get there.
THE BLESSINGS OF OUR BUSINESS MEETINGS
We’re not going to get “it” all in. It’s not going to all stick, but we’re going to keep doing them as much as possible because there are so many blessings in these meetings.
Though we discuss my expectations for his chores/responsibilities around the apartment, our schedules, our goals (mostly me for work), prayer requests, future plans as it pertains to his life going forward, I know there are unintended lessons sinking in as well.
For example, I can see that he’s learning how to plan and prepare for meetings. He is understanding the value of other people’s time and being respectful by coming ready. He seems to be recognizing that he has a voice and that when he takes time to consider how things may impact our household and me, that it is wise for him to sit with things for a bit before asking. He is learning a whole slew of annoying parenting sayings and phrases that I’m willing to wage big money he will say to his kid crew someday. I am also sure there are lessons being learned that I’m not even aware of.
We’re not rigid with these meetings, but they are a priority and a blessing for the both of us as he receives training to step out into the world that awaits and for me to see the young man in him. The young man who is learning to handle what’s been entrusted to him now in preparation for what’s to come.
My only wish? That I’d started these with him sooner.