mexican basketsWhen it comes to loving my teenagers, Crazy Loco Love stretches me just shy of breaking point. At times, the connection between our children almost seems hardwired to snap, split, and break away while they reach for adulthood. They seem like strangers when they’re sheathed in snarky self-absorption. The plausibility of body snatching pods intensifies: I’ve stared into their eyes, just in case.

My mother used to call it amor salvaje, a rough and tumble love. Before becoming a mother, I conjured up Rarotonga, the love goddess of the jungle featured in the weekly fotonovelas we swapped with friends. My mom meant teenagers baring more than just teeth and stomping their way through life, “Just wait and see. Maybe you’ll be lucky.”

Now, I do see. My old-school Latina bag of tricks has a hole in one corner where lectures, ground rules, and pronouncements scatter and fall on deaf ears. The once tried and true approaches to keep conflict from boiling over are tattered from overuse and seldom catch my teenagers’ attention anyway. I’ve had to refashion a sturdier, flexible bag with a looser weave and replenish it with nuggets culled from family, friends, and blogging mothers. So that when the morass excess of teenage testosterone threatens my sanity, instead of going into battle with them, I take deep breathes, steady my hand, and reach into my bag and chose to:

  • Walk away, even though I may be dying to have the last word.
  • Be thankful when they walk away.
  • Reach out to a friend or a family member.
  • Go to a movie where its dark and buttered popcorn works wonders on my frayed nerves.

Then as the anger fades, tender, funny memories resurface like effervescence. I savor each moment, remembering who we are and I reconnect to that love. Long forgotten memories of lazy weekend mornings when we tucked their warm, groggy bodies into our bed. A string of summer afternoons drinking milkshakes while I read out loud to a pair of contented Jack o’ lantern smiles.

Every time I recall a morsel of our past, I find the split begins to mend. This is when I’m grateful for the snapshots I can parade around to reassure me that Crazy, Loco Love also has a gentle side.