I’ve always heard about the loneliness that comes while raising teens.
Most days, I don’t understand it.
I don’t understand it because my life with teenagers seems so full, so loud, so in-my-face 24-hours a day.
My schedule is packed with sports meets and dress shopping and book ordering. I constantly shuttle long, lithe bodies across town while stopping at the grocery store every day. Someone always wants me to write them a check or texts me to pick them up or yells down the stairs to say we are going to be late.
But in the moments when I’m in the thick of it, in those times when one of my children is talking back, is acting like the world ended, is lying to my face—the truth is I’ve never felt so alone.
Because no one wants to highlight their kid’s screw-ups on social media. No one talks about their poor decisions at curriculum night. No one wants to admit that you may have messed up this parenting gig. No one wants to make their teen a target or have them judged.
So, you wonder, “Why is my kid treating me like this?”
You ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong?”
You worry, “What kind of person am I raising?”
You feel alone in murky, shark-infested, unchartered waters, drowning in a sea of teenage angst.
You want to know more about the details of your teen’s life, yet it often seems like you are watching a television show on mute. They decide what information to share and when to provide it to you, if at all.
And it is painful to know that your child is carrying around a heavy weight and knowing you are helpless to fix it, that at times they don’t even want you involved.
When my kids were younger, I could strike up a conversation with another mother at a playground or a friend at a school event. I could easily share my parenting dilemmas and almost always find someone who could relate, which meant it was something I could solve.
But now, the problems are distinct, personal, and sometimes taboo. They are issues I don’t want to be shared and don’t need additional judgment.
I crave time with my friends, my tribe, the people who love my kids like their own, yet it seems impossible to find a date that works.
Whereas you once caught up at playdates and birthday parties, or the occasional mom’s night out starting at 7:30 when all of your kids were in bed, your life is now constantly apologizing for not being able to get together because of football games or band competitions or debate tournaments or college trips.
The irony is the heavier stuff we are dealing with our teens requires trust, privacy, and connection, yet it’s so hard to make that happen.
But most of all, I miss my kids before they are even gone, knowing that they are breaking free a little more every day.
They are the work of my past, but they have their own future. The end of their childhood is now closer than the beginning. And even in the midst of their breakdowns and snarkiness and eye-rolls, even when I wonder if I screwed this entire parenting job up, I know I will miss these glorious, sarcastic, messy, magnificent creatures. Every part of them.
The loneliness of raising teenagers is constant, palpable, perhaps even unavoidable.
And maybe even necessary to prepare us for what’s coming next.