Every age and phase of childhood comes with its own set of difficulties. You sleepwalk through the newborn stage, you stumble through infancy, you skip through toddlerhood, you run around in circles through early childhood and the tween years, and then finally, you’re overdue and ready to catch a break from all the mind-numbing neediness because — lucky you! — you have teenagers now.
“It’s so awesome,” they all said. “They’re fully independent! They sleep in! They can feed themselves! They do their own laundry! They drive themselves to school and sports! Their great personality comes out!”
Total bliss, right?
Well, not for everyone, including me. I wish I could say I am loving this fickle bitch I shall call adolescence (otherwise known as “hormones meet hell, with no filter”), but holy hell, I am not.
To say it’s not without its challenges would be putting it lightly. Moreover, for me and most moms, it comes at a time when you really thought you would get to rest a little. Teenagers, by their nature and age, need little adult supervision, right? Wrong.
Instead, you’re finding the teen years to be a headache that pounds from year 13 until they move the hell out. These years that you once longed for? It turns out you just want them to be over. Now. They are nothing like you thought they’d be. Not even close.
And guess what? It’s okay to not particularly love and adore this stage of parenting. The same way some moms loathe the newborn stage and some love it? Well, some moms get along madly with their teenagers, embracing their kid’s five new personalities and 150 new moods, and some just don’t. And I don’t.
Personally, the teen years sucker punched me in my face so hard I thought I had woken up in a college fraternity house — one filthy bedroom after the next. Strange men, who only the night before had squealed off to bed with voices like the Vienna Boys’ Choir, were now roaming around with five-o’clock shadows, Adam’s apples, and voices that would make Morgan Freeman jealous.
From what I hear from friends with teen daughters, the same holds true: a sweet mild-mannered child one day and Cersei of House Lannister the next. And guess who is her handmaid? You.
Boy or girl, the teen years are not for the faint of mothering hearts, and if you’re finding yourself longing for the little years when you could solve most problems with a nap and lollipop, I feel ya.
You’re not alone, moms. There are plenty of us who find these years both brutally frustrating and barely palatable. There is nothing wrong with you if the teen years are just not your cup of tea. And I promise, even if they aren’t, you’re still more than capable of raising decent teenagers, while at the same time wanting to stab their eyes out. Trust me.
I have made it through one, I’m almost done with number two, and I am confident that I will survive my third and fourth round of teen hell with or without loving every damn second of it (because I know I won’t).
I refuse to feel guilty or like a shitty mom if I don’t have the urge to cuddle up with the moody stranger who has hijacked my son’s personality, or if I don’t look at him fondly and lovingly as he inhales two large pizzas in 45 seconds without a “thank you,” or if I haven’t gotten more than a one-word answer to anything out of him in weeks. If there’s one thing I have learned about raising teens, it’s don’t take anything personally. Your adorable child who loves you is still there, I promise. Somewhere under that mask of snark lies your little boy or girl, and they do, in fact, come back to you.
Mine came back a few weeks after he left for college. The same “I don’t need a mother anymore” kid with whom I’d spent the previous years arguing, debating, being annoyed by, tiptoeing around, and just plain not liking magically went back to being a boy who needed his mom. Only now, he was a mature young adult who needed his mom. And I’m not gonna lie, that makes up for all the years of teen angst and bullshit I had to suffer through. Actually, it may just be the best feeling in the world.