Since we have two teenagers in the house, I’ve realized there are pieces of information about what this parenting teens gig entails that no one told me.
I suspect this is because the ones who know are too busy trying to manage it themselves, those who are past it have forgotten, or maybe people have tried to tell me but I just didn’t listen. All viable options. Regardless, here is what I’m learning no one told me:
It’s tiring. Really, really tiring. Suddenly we’re managing a thousand details of who needs to be where and when and what that means about how we’re going to eat and sleep and see each other. They no longer go to bed at 8 pm and in fact choose the hours between 8 and 10 to broach deep, emotional topics. Not my prime time, unfortunately.
It’s emotional. Really, it seems to require a counseling degree which I, unfortunately, do not have. Teens have emotions – lots of them – and it’s a constant balance of affirming those emotions and not letting them take us for a wild ride. Boy, I hope we’re somewhere in the middle.
Suddenly it all matters.When they were little and we wondered whether or not our five year old should play soccer or dance, it wasn’t that tough a decision. Now, it’s, “Should my child try to get into this development program that might lead her to that professional career she wants?” and “Where should our son go to college?” The stakes just got higher, people.
It can be lonely. I don’t think I’ve found it this difficult to connect with friends since our kids were toddlers and I was tied to nap schedules. This might be a side effect of moving to a new place (hence losing the friends I’d made during the “let’s get the kids together so we can hang out” stage) but I find that coordinating time with friends in between work and practice schedules and just life is like finding a four leaf clover. I spend an inordinate amount of time in my car. Audiobooks are my new best friend.
I love seeing who they are becoming. It’s the coolest and scariest thing to see your kids be partly a reflection of you and your husband, and partly their own unique person. I am both proud and a little nervous that our kids have inherited my snarky humor. It’s a dangerous trait! They are us and they are not, and it’s a joy to be part of them learning to own their faith, their ideas, their dreams. They’re like our little padawans.
I don’t want it to end. Oh yes, I heard from everyone that this would go by quickly. I heard, “the days are long but the years are fast.” I heard it, and I believed it, but I always imagined a sense of completion, of anticipation of the time when I would have my time back. I didn’t know how much I would not want this season to be done. I suggested to our son that he attend college nearby and live with us forever. He replied, “I could, but then I might not become a contributing member of society.” Ok, you win, you can go.
It’s been a surprising, exhausting, stretching journey so far, and we’re not done yet (thank goodness, cause I think I’m just hitting my stride). For those heading in to this chapter – hang on, friends, it’s a great ride.