As family life unfolds, bringing, as it must, shares of both pain and pleasure, I find myself looking for comfort in places I never looked before. I've turned to comfort foods and the comfort of cooking, the comfort of sex with my husband of 22 years, and the comfort of good friends. I've rediscovered the comforts of music to calm my soul, books that speak to my scrambled emotions, and films and television programs that help to settle sadness. A noisy restaurant, and even occasional strangers have also offered unexpected comforts.
I thought I knew by now everything that could bring me comfort, but it seems there's a source I've been overlooking—the comfort of my kids.
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I'm not referring to those sweet, warm hugs from a toddler who still sees me as an all-powerful, always-wonderful mommy. I'm not even talking about the comfort that comes from counting the existence of my children among my blessings. This new, children-derived comfort is different.
My two sons—a teenager and a preteen—are no longer cuddly, or full of unquestioning approval. They are manchildren, with gangly limbs, body odor and strong opinions. Sometimes, I look at them and all I see are the newest facial hairs, acne eruptions and extra height.
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It's not that we aren't close. We are and, judging from other moms of teen/tween sons I've consulted, unusually so. We talk, joke, muse about their futures, watch some of the same TV shows, occasionally cook together, try to decipher song lyrics and—gasp!—even go to the mall or movies together on the weekend.
Yet, they are also sporadically selfish, demanding that laundry gets done overnight so that they can wear their favorite sweatshirt to the game tomorrow night; dismissively cavalier when I give cautionary lectures about being careful. They still take more than they give. They are, after all, still children. Motherhood: The Endless Give And Take