Next Phase

I Was Not Prepared For The Loneliness Of Having Teens

Everything I do is quiet and I have a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts.

I Was Not Prepared For The Loneliness Of Having Teens .
The Good Brigade/DigitalVision/Getty Images

When all my kids reached their teen years, I found myself more lonely than I’d ever been. My daily life went from shuffling them around to all their daily activities, afternoons filled with homework, snacks, and tales about what happened at school, to lots of quiet time alone with my thoughts. Boy, did I miss them.

When my life first shifted, I didn’t know what to do. I had allotted most of my time to my kids because they needed me as they grew up. Then they started to need me less, were barely home, and spent the time they were here in their rooms. It left a huge void.

It took some time to adjust to this new way of living, but I started to look at it in a more positive light. Yes, I missed them and of course I was nostalgic for their younger years.

But there is some good news to this stage of parenting: I was finally able to sleep. I can get up early and head to the gym. I don’t have to worry about getting kids up, packing lunches and making sure they catch the bus on time because they can get to school on their own now. I am finally able to read a book from cover to cover without being interrupted a zillion times by a kid asking me for a snack. I have been able to pursue my dream career of writing my first novel. I started to knit again and now I make scarves, hats and sweaters. Sometimes I dance to ‘90s music and jump on my sofa.

And damn, there is something to be said for that, because I have waited a long time for some mental space for myself.

The time has allowed me to rediscover who I am. It has brought me joy and peace.

My teens have noticed I have a life outside of them and they are proud of me. They like not having to worry about me. They see me trying new things and seeing a parts of my personality that’s outside my role as their mom. I’m showing them that life keeps going, and can be wonderful, even after your kids are starting to grow up.

When I was younger, I knew I wanted to get married, buy a home, and have kids. I had a timeline of how I wanted things to go in my life. There isn’t a day I don’t wake up and feel tremendous gratitude that it all happened for me even with all the bumps and turns.

But, I didn’t plan this part or even understand this was a stage too. Nobody talks about the lonely void that can come when your kids become teenagers. You feel like they are gone most of the time and you start to barely recognize their personalities.

Sure, we may think about it a tiny bit when they’re young and life is extremely chaotic and we are barely sleeping and we may wish for their older years so we have time to think straight and don’t feel like we are being pulled in several directions at once.

But then it happens. There’s a mourning period for sure, and I definitely spend some time feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t know what the next step for me was.

Then I figured it out: Having teens has been the perfect time to reinvent myself, try things I’ve always wanted to try, and figure out what I want to do with this next phase of my life.

The best part is, you can do that while you still have your babies living under your roof. It truly has been the best of both worlds. If I had not experienced the loneliness from having them all grow, I wouldn’t have pushed myself to grow, either.

Katie lives in Maine with her three kids, two ducks, and a Goldendoodle. When she’s not writing, she's reading, at the gym, redecorating her home, or spending too much money online.