My house is full of sass, raging hormones, and too many people who want to be in charge. Rebellion runs down my walls, and as soon as you walk in my house, it reeks of confrontation. I took my youngest son’s phone away the other day for the simple fact that he was disagreeing with everything I said, just for the fuck of it.
If you’ve ever seen a mother driving down the road straight-faced, with a teenager sitting next to her that looked as though they wanted to invest in a time portal just to get the hell away from her, I bet you wondered why she was putting up with it, or why that kid was such an asshole.
Or maybe you are her, and you know that on most days, regardless of what you do — or how much you try to love them — it’s as if they’ve sprayed themselves with mom repellent.
If you are a mom of teenagers, and you feel like everyone is looking at you thinking you are doing it all wrong, that their teen will never act like yours, and you are on the edge because you’ve had enough and literally don’t know what to do, I feel you.
We are good mothers who try as hard as we can, and do the best we know how. It’s so easy for someone who isn’t currently raising teens to clap back and point out all the things you are doing wrong, but they have no idea.
I’ve changed the WiFi password in my house more times than I can count. I’ve taken phones away for weeks. I’ve found pot in their room, caught them in lies, driven down the street to get my son who stands six inches taller than me into my car after I told him he wasn’t allowed to leave the house.
I’ve stood behind his car when he was trying to leave during this pandemic after I told him not to. I’ve spent hours on the phone with teachers. I’ve racked my brain trying to help them with physics homework. I’ve laid down with them when they couldn’t fall asleep after a broken heart. I’ve spent every day trying to teach them the value of being aware of others. I’ve nursed them back to health after losing pets, and I’ve had to rush out of the house in my robe to get my son after a car accident.
One of my teens struggled with anxiety and depression and was cutting herself.
Another one has a mold collection in his room because he refuses to bring dishes downstairs after he sneaks food in his room when I’m not home.
But on the other hand, I’ve watched them bond with each other, or stop what they were doing to help me with something, and felt so proud I could burst.
Teenagers are amazing, resilient, and I’m so thankful for them. But damn, they are exhausting. And there are times when I feel so strung out, I literally don’t know what to do.
When they don’t do their school work, I could do it for them but I’m not going to do that.
When they screw up, I could step in and fix it, but I’m not going to do that.
When they are disrespectful to me, I could ignore them and let them get away with it, but I’m not going to do that.
Instead, I am going to fight the fight and lose sleep along the way.
I am going to keep trying and keep letting them know they are loved.
I am going to let them know that they can choose to break the rules, but there will be consequences.
What else can I do? I can’t follow them around. I can’t live their lives for them. I have to somehow figure out how to let them take the wheel and realize I am only the supporting actress here.
But damn, I am tired. I’m at a loss sometimes. There are days when my feet hit the floor and I get an email saying one of my kids is missing work, or I see a towel on the floor and I’ve already had enough. Days when I’ve looked at the pile of overflowing trash after asking them to take it out five times already, and feel like I can’t handle one more thing.
Teenagers are these creatures who have a mind of their own, and a lot of times, they don’t like to play by the rules. And letting them feel the wrath of their own choices and taking responsibility while trying to keep them safe is a dance, one that drains my soul and never lets me fully relax.
To the mom of teens, I see you. I know how hard this is, and just because your kids are doing stuff you hate right now, it doesn’t mean you aren’t trying or they won’t find their way. All we can do is get through the next moment, the next hour, the next day.
Just please, promise me you will cut yourself a little slack and give credit to the fact the teen years are the true trenches of parenthood. And there are lots of us fighting the good fight right alongside you.