I wish someone would have told me what raising a teenager was like.

I wish someone told me there would be days my heart would break in half for them, that my soul would be crushed by the weight of their sorrow.

I wish someone told me that I would experience doubt at every parenting decision, confusion over choices, fear at every juncture.

I wish someone told me about the extreme highs they experience because of victories and achievements and simple pleasures, and also the extreme lows that come on like a slingshot in the opposite direction.

I wish someone would have told me how deeply teenagers feel, and that sometimes it can be terrifying to watch, so much so that you sleep next to them like you did when they were small just to get to the next sunrise.

RELATED: When it Comes To Raising Teens, It’s All Personal

I wish someone told me that there would be times when you didn’t like your child, when you wondered where you went wrong, when you sat up late into the night worrying about who they may become.

I wish someone told me the passion they can feel for their interests, their friendships, their life, and how important it is to help them find healthy pursuits so they don’t fill their time with drama or mindless tasks.

I wish someone told me that staying close means letting go and that teenagers need so much space to grow.

I wish someone told me how very smart, very funny, very enjoyable they can be—when they are in the mood and the stars are aligned.

I wish someone told me how forgiving they can be when their parents make mistakes, how compassionate they can be when you give them a chance.

I wish someone told me how much hope these teens would give me in the darkest of times.

RELATED: Raising a Teenage Girl is a Thing of Beauty

I wish someone told me that despite their behavior and attitude, teenagers need structure and rules and discipline—they even want it so they know where they stand in this crazy world.

I wish someone told me that nobody knows what they are doing when parenting a teenager.

I wish someone told me how lonely it could be when facing problems with your teenager, how hard it is to respect their privacy, how their stories are not yours to tell.

I wish someone told me that watching your teenagers chase—and, if lucky—achieve their goals and dreams would be infinitely better than achieving yours.

I wish someone told me that you will get through the challenging times, and your relationship will be stronger because of it.

I wish someone told me how much they eat, how much they sleep, how much they want to be driven places at all hours of the day and night.

I wish someone told me how they will listen to other people more than their parents—and how hard it is not to say I told you so. I wish someone told me how hard it would be to bite my tongue at every juncture.

I wish someone told me the importance of choosing your battles—and that some battles aren’t worth fighting.

I wish someone would have told me how much I would laugh and how much I would dance, how many movies and YouTube videos I would watch and shoes I would buy, how I would go without sleep to pick them up and get up early to get a goodbye kiss, how I would suddenly look up into their eyes and they would be the ones to comfort me, instead of the other way around

RELATED: The Teenage Years Will Break You

I wish someone would have told me what parenting a teenager would be like, but I probably wouldn’t have believed a word they said.

It’s so much harder, so much better, so much more beautiful and terrifying and love-filled than anything anyone could describe.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Originally published on Playdates on Fridays by Whitney Fleming

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Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

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