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He’s 13. I could stop there, and most parents would simply shake their heads, give me a look of sympathy, and simply say, “It gets better.”

My too-cool-for-school kid did a complete 180 in his seventh-grade year. Always at the top of his class academically, he stopped studying, stopped doing homework, stopped caring about grades. I tried to talk to him about it, but all I got were eye rolls, barely audible teenage slang that made no sense to this Gen-X mom, and the slamming of a door. He doesn’t even need the large “Stay Out” poster on his bedroom door, I can read between the lines. And those lines clearly state I am not welcome in his personalized teenage domain.

I miss our late-night talks. I miss our shared inside jokes. I miss the days he hopped into the car after school and chatted nonstop all the way home. Sharing every single second of every detail of his day.

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I am tempted, when he is in a chatty mood (which is not often, unless you are one of his teenage basketball buddies), to drop a bruh, scividy, rizz, or other YouTube reference into the convo. Just so I seem cool enough to warrant a whole back-and-forth, eye-to-eye (what I can see underneath those long shaggy bangs, that is) conversation. But I know this would only incense him further.

He obviously feels comfortable with me. Comfortable enough to share things I don’t necessarily wish to know—locker room talk, which I would prefer stay strictly with the guys. However, I do not want to send the message that I am not open to him sharing his life with me. Even the head-shaking, bizarre, teenage-boy details. Where is the line though? I often have to remind myself: I am not his friend. I am his mother.

Yet, I want to be his friend! I want to share in each other’s day like we used to. I want all the hot gossip he was inclined to share in fourth grade. Now, I just rely on snippets of conversation between him and his little brother, who will often fill me in on the facts later on.

However, when it comes to language, movies, video games, sarcasm turned disrespect, screen time, and social media, the line is clear. The boundaries beg to be defined. I have a job to do. A job that is not easy and seems to grow more difficult by the day.

Parenting a teenager is not for the faint of heart. I have to daily deny my desires to illicit the life lessons he needs to survive. It is hard. It is often unrewarding. It makes me feel like a woman in a toxic relationship, constantly giving of herself, only to be met with one-word answers, or worse yet, no answers.

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I know there is light at the end of this teenage tunnel. I randomly see the glimmers of hope. He will let me in on a private joke between him and his buddies. He will thank me for taking him to basketball practice. He will open up about his latest game on the long drive home. He will rizz me up (I’m not sure what that means so please forgive me if it is inappropriate) when trying to bribe me for a burger or soda.

One day, we will be the best of friends. We will get coffee together, we will have dinners, and deeply indulge in equal-opportunity communication. Heck, we may even share a bottle of wine and reminisce about his growing-up years and possibly mine as well as I sometimes feel I have learned more from my sons than they have learned from me.

We will one day be friends. But not today. Today, being his parent, his mother, his protector and guidance . . . that comes first. There will be plenty of time for friendship when he is fully grown, perhaps with a family of his own, and dare I say it, the ability to commiserate with me upon raising a teenager. Then, we will be friends. The absolute best of friends.

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Manndi Maphies Wilkins

I am a boy momma of two, who works at a School of Pharmacy and enjoys freelance writing on the side. I enjoy sharing my daily adventures as a (former) single mom with anyone who will read them. Life is full of ups…and downs…and then more ups. The joy is in the journey and if others find my journey humorous, relatable, and inspiring, I will never quit sharing it! So happy to connect with such an inspiring group of writers!

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