So I am in the midst of a move from the only place I have ever lived to the leafy suburbs of Washington, DC, for a new assignment as a political correspondent. My 14-year-old son is coming along. We are both excited but I am silently freaking the fuck out, and I am sure he is too, but he is a brave and stoic boy, almost otherworldly in his maturity, and so he’s not saying much.

As a parent, this worries me. I went through a terribly painful marital breakup 18 months ago and that kind-hearted boy was by my side like a faithful caretaker. While his older sister was understandably pissed off that her world had been torn apart and I occasionally bore the brunt of her anger, my son seemed more worried about me. He slept with me for a few months, and it’s painful to realize now that I think it was because he was afraid I might not wake up one morning due to my misery. I know he heard me crying myself to sleep many, many nights, and would creep into my bed and cuddle up to me silently. I get weepy just remembering it. 

So now I wonder if he’s being so stoic and so positive about the move because he desperately wants me to be happy. In which case, he is sacrificing his happiness for mine. And this makes my heart swell with love while at the same time makes me feel awful. Sometimes I wonder if his sister’s anger was the healthier response.

I have discussed my concerns with him, and he just shrugs it off — he’s not a big talker. So if anyone out there has any advice on how to get a 14-year-old boy to open up and talk about his feelings, and to ensure him it’s OK without him saying: “Don’t worry about it,” I’m all ears.

Once we get to DC, I want to make sure he has as easy and fun a time as possible. I plan to take him to ball games and amusement parks and museums and whatever else he wants to do. But again, I would welcome advice from all you mothers out there — or women who have known stoic little men in their lives — about what to do to ensure this move is as positive an experience as it can be for my son.

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