Big kids, big problems.
That’s the quote we all laughed off when we were knee deep in poppy pants and toddler tantrums.
When the hardest thing about parenting was the fact that you were up at 4am because Daylight Savings ruined your life.
In 6 days, Dude 1 will be 16.
Six. Teen. Years. Old.
As I sit here waiting for him to call me at 11pm for a ride home after a “get together” he went to, I actually long for 4am wake up screams where he is nestled safely in his crib wailing for me to come release him.
Because raising teens is scary.
Exciting, interesting, awesome, and scary.
I guess it’s the loss of control. And the idea that this person who has so much of my heart is just out in the world, doing things that I am not a part of –experiencing things I want to experience with him, enjoying things I want to enjoy with him, fighting things I want to beat into oblivion for him.
But I also want him to be brave and independent and have experiences that are unique and exciting and fulfilling just for him.
I just want him to come home and tell me everything.
Who was there, what they did, what they ate, what they drank, what kind of music did they play, was there dancing, did anyone give him a dirty look, who was it, where do they live?!
It sounds crazy when I type it out, and I know it is (because that’s just not real life when raising teens), but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop it, because I probably can’t even.
And I’m not sure I want to.
Being his mom is my thing –it is who I have been for most of my adult life. And, when he doesn’t need me to mom so aggressively, to be in control of his daily everything, what will I be?
I’m still trying to figure that out.
And I’m learning along the way.
Raising Teens: 8 Things I’m Sure of as a Mom to a 16 Year Old
It doesn’t get easy.
It just gets different. Raising teens is actually a lot like raising toddlers. You still work hard –you’re just doing different things. You still sleep little –just for different reasons. You still worry and wonder and doubt and fear –it’s just less about whether your child is meeting their developmental milestones or ever going to learn to poop in the potty, and more about if there will be drinking at the party they are going to after homecoming and if their SAT scores are going to get them into the college they dream of (or any college really).
I’m actually convinced at this point that, no matter what, parenting will never be easy. Even when they are living in their own homes with their own jobs and their own families, I imagine I will be rocking my nursing home fretting over him and the grand babies he better have given me by then.
Sometimes they surprise you.
With hugs. Or kisses. Or random stories about something that happened at school, with details that are so good they make you not even want to take a deep breath for fear that they will realize they are talking to you and not one of their friends.
And, sometimes they pick up their socks.
Not all the time, but sometimes. Without being reminded. Without being nagged. They just do it. And when they do, you kind of realize that you haven’t been wasting your time entirely and some of the stuff you’ve said over the past 16 years of life actually stuck. Go ahead and high five yourself for that one.
Life is as exciting as it is scary.
Driving is a great example. I want Dude 1 to get his license so much –I am super excited about him getting to drive. But, at the same time, I AM SO SCARED! Like the idea of putting him in control of this massive machine of death when he can barely control if his pee lands in the toilet is SO SO SCARY. And so many things are like this: going to parties, getting a job, dating, traveling alone, going to college. All of it, crazy exciting and super scary.
You don’t want to let go, but you also don’t want to hold on.
It’s a weird feeling. It’s like I can’t get right in my mind with the whole idea of him going out into the world and being a person away from me. I want him to be a person away from me because I want him to have a beautiful life of his own. But I also want to have him in his room forever and always so I can go in and jump on his bed and interrupt his video gaming sessions with his friends. Because I don’t want him to date, but I want people to want to date them. And I don’t want him to go to parties, but I want him to be invited to parties. And I desperately don’t want him to want to leave me, but I also want him to leave me so he can learn and grow and be whatever it is he wants to be with me behind him -cheering the loudest, jumping and clapping and waving him on -instead of by their side.
But, you know they still need you.
Even if they try to act like you don’t know a single thing about a single thing. They need you to be the voice of reason, the pillar of support, the disciplinarian, the chauffer, the cook, and the cleaner. They need you to be the person they come to when all of the people they thought were soooo important are nowhere to be found. When they need a hug or a high five. When they need to lay on the couch and have their back scratched without having to say a word. When they need to figure out how to tie a tie on dress up day before their game and the YouTube video they tried is just making them sweaty and frustrated.
And they love you a lot.
They don’t always show it in the way you want them to, but you know it’s there. Hiding among the “how they think they should act” and the raging hormones is the same love they have felt for you since the cuddled into your side and feel asleep on your chest as a baby.
Learn more about my life with teens here: 20 Things You Should Say to Your 13 Year Old and 10 Real Things I Love About Being a Mom to Teen Boys