My oldest is a teenager. The angst I write about is mine, not his. Right now it’s really hard being the parent of a teenager. He’s 14. He should be a freshman in high school performing with the marching band, practicing with his section, complaining about his smelly uniform. He should be anxious about the upcoming dances and feeling conflicted about whether or not to participate for spirit week. Planning what to get teachers for Christmas …
Instead, we are all STILL trapped in this house, trying to navigate a teenager, a 10 year old, 2 jobs and distance learning.
I’m just going to put the disclaimer here: Yes we are fortunate to have jobs. Yes, we are fortunate to have kids, YES we are fortunate. BUT …. it still can suck monkey balls.
My son has recently gone through some changes, as one would expect, but it’s not the physical changes you assume. No, it’s personal changes. Becoming a person. A young human being. A near adult, if you will.
He is my first born, so he’s still got some shine on him. Everything I go through with him is us figuring it out together. He’s the guinea pig. He and I have navigated a sea of unexpected and unanticipated challenges. We’ve made it through. Recently my husband has really stepped up and become part of everything involved in family life – thank you Covid-19 – and even with a partner, it’s fucking exhausting to deal with a teenager.
Aside from the newborn stage, this has been the most exhausting. The pushback and the debating, the arguing, the questioning and challenging and the frigging opinions based on zero life experience is d r a i n i n g !!! And we’re just 2 months into this new form.
I realized tonight that part of my angst in dealing with him is the realization that I have to start letting him go now. I can’t just simply hug it out. I can’t offer him some cookies and a chat and fix it all. My little guy is now this big, smelly, sneaky, curious, resistant, frenzied yet still dependent and unsure and tethered Young Man.
And everything he once was is no more. He no longer wants to play stuffies with his sister. He no longer needs my opinion on things. He no longer obeys what is in place for his own safety and well being.
Is it what all parents go through? Inevitably. Is this struggle unique to us? Not at all. Did I know this was coming? Absolutely. Is it still a kick in the crotch? All day.
When you find out you’re having a baby and you get all excited and you prepare and get the diaper changing table all ready, make sure you have a changing pad complete with little seat belt so when they roll off they are sure to take the changing pad with them. You get the diapers set and the wipe warmer and everything is just so … and the day they have their first blow out ….
We all remember that day.
Does it make it suck less because you expected it and thought you were prepared?
As it turns out, were you actually prepared? Could anyone really prepare for that mess?
Having a teenager has so far felt like a daily blow out. His or mine, I’m not certain yet. Throw in my age and poor bladder strength it could go either way, honestly. I’m anticipating this manic and crazed lashing out and attitude to somewhat plateau, but we are in the beginning phases of the metamorphosis and I gotta tell ya …. i’m kind of expecting him to come out of this a rabid bat and not a butterfly.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand all of this will be beneficial to him for his life. I do. I understand his pushback and questioning the rules and arguing his points, and demanding change and lack of respect for authority will all fall into place eventually and hopefully contribute to a successful adult. But in the meantime, I gotta say this has been a painful 2 months for this momma’s heart.
Distance learning, lack of adult support outside the home in the form of teachers, a peer network to navigate IRL, online access, gaming, virtual socialization … these things can make it really easy and/or really hard and sometime simultaneously. The interwebs have made this experience even more dicey and volatile.
My exhaustion is mental. It’s a nonstop battle for safety, responsibility, consequences, and psychological water boarding. It’s been really really combative for small parts of every day. I need a vacation and that doesn’t seem to jive with a global pandemic.
In summary, here’s my review of parenting my teenager so far.
1 star. I would give .5 but he still wants to say goodnight and give hugs and kisses and say “I love you.” Equipment recommended: A therapist, a flask, and Partner to tag in when needed.
If you are already under contract with a teen, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.