There were times when my kids were small when I felt lonely. I missed some of the freedoms I used to have, and I didn’t have the energy to connect with friends and family like I had before. That is all normal; I don’t think I know a mother out there who hasn’t had a trickle of feeling lonely, even when — or maybe especially when — they are smothered by their delicious children.
However, nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the loneliness I felt once they all hit puberty and seemingly changed overnight.
No one told me there would be such a void in my soul when my kids no longer cared about Christmas, or going out for ice cream. I had no idea I would feel such a huge gap when they stayed in their rooms for hours and everything I said to them annoyed the hell out of them.
I didn’t know I would sit on the sofa and the quiet would hurt my ears, and I would long for them to be all over me again.
We don’t talk about it enough – the loneliness that comes with having teens.
There are times when we just want to talk with someone about the struggles they are having, but we can’t invade their privacy like that. So we hold it in.
There are times we wonder if our teens are the only ones going through certain stages or doing things they shouldn’t be doing.
And so many of us sit in silence, not sure what to do with this new relationship we have with our kids now that they are older.
I’ve been a mother to teens for five years now. At first, I wasn’t sure why I was feeling so much angst when my oldest turned 13. I knew he was different and I had a hard time adjusting trying to be the mom he needed.
Now that I have three teenagers, here are some ways I’ve learned to cope with the loneliness:
Live your life.
This took me a while. However, I realized my kids had lives of their own and I needed to get one too. I was sad when they no longer wanted to hang with me as much, so I started going shopping or out to our favorite restaurants whether they wanted to come or not. I started new hobbies. I spent more time with friends.
Your kids want you to have a life outside of them. One day they won’t be there, and you will be glad you have things you love to fill your time.
Let them know you miss them.
It’s okay to tell them you miss spending time with them without having strings attached or expectations. Everyone likes to know when they are missed. For me, doing this made my kids aware of the changes and they spent a tad more time with me. (Hey, I’ll take what I can get.)
… But don’t make them feel guilty for needing their space.
With that being said, don’t make them feel guilty for separating themselves. It doesn’t work, anyway. They will be annoyed and want to spend less time with you. Letting them know you love them and miss them is one thing. Giving them a guilt trip for being who they are and needing alone time will make them feel like there is something wrong, and you don’t approve of them.
Think about how you would feel if you needed to be left alone, or really wanted to do something with your partner without your kids and they made you feel guilty for it every time. It’s excruciating.
Accept that this is their natural path.
It’s natural and normal for our teens to not want anything to do with us. I realized I had to accept this was the way it was instead of trying to fight it.
This was probably the biggest turning point for me.
Realize you miss who you were when they were small.
I also knew I missed the kind of mom I used to be. The one who would carpool, host playdates, and make my kids happy by making their favorite cookies.
They don’t need me for any of those things any longer, and I missed that time in my life. It also took me some time to find my footing and figure out how to be there for my kids in a way they needed now they were teens — just like I was when they were little. It wasn’t that they didn’t need me, it was just that they didn’t need me in the same ways.
Every stage of parenting has its trials — and for moms of teens, feeling lonely is a pretty common one. Hang in there, know this isn’t because of anything you have done, and pick up that hobby you’ve been wanting to try. Now is the time!
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