So here’s the thing about parenting teenagers.
It sort of makes us into liars.
Like when someone asks how our tall kids are we say things like:
Great! They’re starting football in the fall!
They just got into a great school!
They’re doing the play right now and it’s so much fun.
All this may be true, but we are all only telling one side of the story.
Because our tall people now demand privacy we can no longer spill our guts and instead we only show our shiny side.
Plus what would people think of us if we said:
Actually, they’re failing two classes right now and we have no idea why.
Well, I just found a giant bottle of vodka in their closet so I’m pretty freaked out.
They’re being treated for depression and anxiety and it came out of nowhere.
Not only would that lead to a conversation that’s way too long to have in the aisle of Aldi, but we also would tell a story that’s not really ours to tell.
Just like we wouldn’t spill the story of a friend who’s having marital problems or who’s dying to quit their job, we can’t share so much of what’s going on with our kids.
And yet we’re supposed to parent them through unchartered waters and we desperately need to tell the hard truths to someone who can support us so we can support our kids.
And so often I just want to yell . . . is anyone else experiencing this madness? What the heck am I supposed to do? Help me out here man because it seems like all your kids are just fine and we are a hot mess today my friends.
The truth is . . . we are all a hot mess even if we can’t tell each other why.
So when that friend answers you with the shiny side of their lives . . . telling you about the honor roll and great job their kid got, remember there are things they are not saying.
Just like there are things you are not saying.
So after sharing our shiny side, I say let’s look each other in the eye and give a little wink to show behind the scenes things are so hard you’re not sure how you’re standing. Although I tend toward the awkward so maybe that’s weird.
Maybe instead, just know in your heart their kids struggle too so be extra kind just in case. Maybe open up about the hard parts where you can. Maybe have coffee with people who you trust with your own private life to help you navigate your kids’.
And always, always know no matter what you are hearing, you are not alone.
Life is hard for everyone and these years spent parenting teens are no joke. No one is making it through unscathed.
Let’s not forget that fact, even in the middle of the night when we’re staring at the ceiling. Know there’s bound to be another parent just a few blocks away doing the same thing.
We’ve got this and we have to have each other . . . let’s be there, friends, even when we don’t know the story because we don’t have to know the details to know it’s probably darn hard. And we parents of tall kids need a village more than ever.
Originally published on Hiding in the Closet with Coffee by Amy Betters-Midtvedt