Some days, I miss my teenage son so much it makes me cry. He hasn't gone anywhere. He still lives in my house. I still see him every day.
But he doesn't want to be with me any more. He doesn't really want to speak to me at all.
I knew this was inevitable, this separation. It is part of his transition to adulthood. But I didn't expect it to hurt so much. I have become that clichéd old woman who clasps photos of past birthday parties and strokes a little boy's face with a teary smile. (I am not allowed to stroke his real face any more).
I try to do the right things. I give him his space and try to enjoy the little moments of connection. When I venture into his teenage lair (or when he is lured out by the need for food, money or a lift), I do all the things I advise other parents to do. I chat to him - not serious personal stuff that will bring his shutters down, just idle fluff about the day, the football results or something funny I've seen on Facebook.
But I can see him thinking, 'Please stop, mum. Just shut up and leave me alone.'
I see him ticking off the moments until I will leave or be quiet so he can go back to the important teenage stuff he is doing - like listening to music or Snapchatting or playing some stupid mind-numbing game on his phone.
God, I miss my son.
I've been a mother for 16 years and, one way or another, like all parents, my life has centred around my children. I have received so much love, enjoyed so much intimacy, and invested so much thought into how to help my little ones grow into to great adults. And now we are reaching the end of their childhood, I am grieving, lost and sobbing.
I am grieving the loss of that little hand in mine. I am grieving the loss of the little boy who sat on my lap wrapped in my arms. I am grieving the loss of a relationship so unique, so all-consuming.
Because now, there is only one of us in that relationship. And a big vacated hole.
Most days, I know that we will grow a new relationship when he passes through these difficult teenage years. Rationally, I know I need to step back and just be grateful for the small moments of connection. (I cherish the hugs he still sneaks on me when I am not asking for them). Most days, I know that another precious connection will replace the one we have lost.
But some days, I have absolutely no idea who he is any more. And I am scared that I will never again see the love light up his face when he looks at me.
And, today, that has completely undone me.
You'll find more confessions from this imperfect parent on my Thinking Parenting blog - plus tips and advice on managing the many dilemmas and pitfalls of modern parenting.Suggest a correction