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The Teenage Years: They Happen to the Best of Us

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With Mother’s Day this month, I find myself taking a look back through all the years I’ve been a mother. I’ve officially decided that once you have children, time moves at double speed. I can so vividly recall those precious, magical days when my teenage daughter was a toddler – heck, I have SHOES older than her – that I can’t really believe I’m coming up on my 15th year of motherhood.

People always joke about how hard it is to raise teenagers, and I’d like to set the record straight on that: I had NO IDEA. In addition to my oldest, I have two sets of twins who are seventeen months apart in age. I had four kids in diapers for YEARS. I have a child with autism. In other words, I feel like I’ve earned a few Mommy Merit Badges! But among all the parenting challenges I’ve faced, nothing compares to dealing with the drama and angst of a 14-year-old girl. I only hope that when my four little ones all hit their teens around the same time, I will have gained a substantial amount of wisdom in this area.

When my daughter was a little girl, she was the most well-behaved, mellow child. I remember seeing mouthy teenagers and feeling relieved – smug, really – that MY daughter would never be a disrespectful little drama queen. Oh, how wrong I was. Like all teenagers, she speaks fluent sarcasm. She fights with her best friend over petty, ridiculous things, and when they don’t speak because of it, she acts as if somebody died. Then they make up by saying “hey” to each other at school and sharing a bag of Skittles, like nothing ever happened. She has crushes on boys based on how they wear their hair and what they have on their iPod. And if I gave her the choice between spending a weekend at Disneyland with her family or hanging out at the mall with her friends, I guarantee she would choose the mall.

I’ve tried to convince my daughter that I’m cool enough to still hang out with occasionally. I’ve even reminded her that I listened to Green Day before she was even born, but she’s not convinced. My sweet little girl has abandoned me to join a gang of Twilight-obsessed adolescents in skinny jeans – which is exactly what she’s supposed to do at this stage of her life. She has to test boundaries in order to learn life lessons. She has to occasionally fall down and skin her knees. And as hard as it may be for me, I have to let her. I discovered it was much easier to understand and truly enjoy my daughter once I realized that this behavior is age-appropriate and pretty much normal. I believe nature creates teenagers this way on purpose. They HAVE to torture their parents for a few years, so that when the time comes for them to spread their wings and fly, we can boot them right out of the nest without falling apart.

I turn to my own mother pretty often these days, looking for a little guidance and reassurance that I’m not failing miserably at this whole parenting gig. She just laughs, and reminds me that I was once a teenager, too. I was mouthy, sneaky, and manipulative. I made fun of her taste in music. I questioned everything she asked of me and defied her on a regular basis. I made mistakes and I learned from them. Somehow, we both survived it. She forgave a lot of bad behavior, because she knew that the goodness in me would eventually rise to the top. In fact, one of the greatest gifts my mother gave me was allowing me to run away from her, knowing that I’d make my way back. Things turned out just fine for us in the end, and I have complete faith that things will turn out fine for my daughter and me, too. For now, I’m taking lots of pictures, because the purple-hair-skinny-jeans phase of life really does go by too quickly.

Guest Blogger Laura is the mother of a teenager and two young sets of twins. She’s a stay-at-home mom, but finds the title misleading as she seems to spend most of her time in the car. You can find Laura at lalagirl.org, where she shares stories about her life, raising multiples, and parenting a child with autism.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amy May 13, 2010

    I completely agree that our teenagers (how *did* this time sneak up on us so fast?) are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing: rebelling, discovering, testing their wings. They are about to take flight into a world that can seem (and often is!) pretty scary. I can vividly remember being simultaneously exhilarated and frightened beyond belief at the possibilities of the big unknown future that lay before me. No wonder I acted out! Those are some strong emotions for anyone to feel, let alone a tender-aged teen.

    Your realization that these years are just as fleeting as the infant, toddler and young child ones that came before them is right on. When my teens are trying me, I remind myself that this, too, shall pass. And oh, how quickly.

    I believe my job now is to provide support, compassion, gentle direction, safety, and most of all: love. They’ve never needed it more.

  • comment avatar Melissa May 13, 2010

    There is a lot of wisdom in what you wrote Laura. I am thankfully I have friends at different stages of motherhood to come along side me in the journey.

  • comment avatar Kim May 13, 2010

    You have such great insight! And I’m feeling so thankful at this moment that I have no teens anymore. It definitely is a stage of development that I don’t miss.

  • comment avatar Deb May 13, 2010

    I love how you put this into words…I’m going through something similar now, and it’s crazy sometimes. I remind myself I was this way too. Brace yourself – you have to go through this a bunch of more times, but thankfully as we get older as parents, we mellow too, so it gets easier and easier to roll with the punches.

  • comment avatar Barb May 13, 2010

    Truer words were never spoken: “They HAVE to torture their parents for a few years, so that when the time comes for them to spread their wings and fly, we can boot them right out of the nest without falling apart.”

  • comment avatar Joseph May 13, 2010

    Your humorous perspective of the world has only evolved since I knew you as a teenager. Your blunt delivery and wit is the same, but the content is profound. I read your blogs and it feels like we are just chatting over lunch again in high school – except now we’re across the country from each other.

  • comment avatar Tracie May 13, 2010

    I love this, Laura! And I totally agree with everything you’re saying. Especially since we’re on our 4th teenager now… I only wish that what I’m going currently going through with my 14 year old was “age appropriate”… It’s not unfortunately. It certainly is gut-wrenching though and keeping me awake at nights.

    Hopefully “this too shall pass” SOON! 🙂

  • comment avatar Mama Bird May 13, 2010

    Thank you for the insight into what lies ahead for those of us with little girls. I’m bracing myself for, and trying to embrace my angel growing up and becoming independent. Like you said, it’s all just a normal part of spreading their wings. Beautifully written!

  • comment avatar A Mama's Blog- Heather May 13, 2010

    This is a great post- I am in denial and think *MY* boys will never be teenagers. I know it will be here before I know it though. Makes me think of those sayings like as moms we have to give our kids wings, and then let them fly… You do a great job Laura, and you are an awesome Mom!

  • comment avatar Jill May 13, 2010

    Truer words were never written!

  • comment avatar Cindy May 13, 2010

    How right you are! I too, had a dream child…and while she’s still pretty dreamy..oh my, the attitude!

    It’s actually been a little bit of a relief to finally see my daughter doing “age appropriate” things; she’s been “off the charts” in so many other ways. But now that I’ve seen she can be age appropriate, I wouldn’t mind if she just moved on from it, lol!!!

  • comment avatar Kelley May 13, 2010

    I loved reading that. All true. These words I remind myself each and every day: “She forgave a lot of bad behavior, because she knew that the goodness in me would eventually rise to the top”. In all teenagers that is a goodness that will surface! Some sooner than others…..but is there!

  • comment avatar JoAnn May 13, 2010

    This is a great post, Laura!

    Right now, my 4yr old is in the phase where she can’t even IMAGINE living apart from us. She routinely says, “I’m NEVER moving out, Momma. NEVER.” I chuckle knowing that the day she can’t WAIT to leave is just around the corner. 😉

  • comment avatar Leslie K May 13, 2010

    I know that I’ve still got years of teen years to go, but so far I’ve decided that God’s reward for me not having a daughter is the LACK of drama that having a teenage son involves. Of course, this same teenage son is pretty sure he loves a teenage girl, so there is most likely drama in my future, huh? I just hope I handle it as well as you do, Laura!

  • comment avatar Annisa May 13, 2010

    Love, love this post Laura! I may not exactly be looking forward to the teen years my children have ahead of them, but I have faith as your mom did that their ‘goodness will rise to the top.’

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz May 13, 2010

    OMG — I just realized that I was your daughter! How could I forget all that drama?

    Loved this line: “she speaks fluent sarcasm.”

  • comment avatar Loretta May 14, 2010

    Brilliantly worded, Laura! We’re just approaching teen years now, my oldest just turned 13 and we’ve got a 12th birthday coming up next week for the next one. It’s scary ground, but it’s fun too.

    It’s funny how our daily conversations used to be about Blue’s Clues and why we shouldn’t flush rubber balls and batman action figures down the toilet and now they’re about girls at school and algebra class.

    Most days I enjoy their individuality and their growth, but some other days (you know the ones) I would gladly exchange my 13 year old for the 3 year old version of himself.

  • comment avatar Aimee Greeblemonkey May 20, 2010

    :))))

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