Being irrelevant to my teenager daughter sounds amusing and inconsequential.

Becoming irrelevant is different. It’s heartbreaking. The agonizing process of losing my daughter’s affection and attention, although somewhat expected, has been less shocking than the state of being irrelevant as a mother to the outside world. As my daughter morphed each day into some adult-puppy-child-woman, society looked at me and said, “So what are you doing now?”

Excuse me?

Parenting is harder now. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m parenting harder.

No that doesn’t mean I’m meaner or tougher or stricter than other parents. My 15-year-old daughter has quite a bit of freedom, but she also has boundaries. Boundaries that I have to patrol whether my presence is welcomed or not. My skin has grown thick under the occasional glare of the stranger who invaded my daughter’s body and I have become quite comfortable here where I am not wanted.

It is simply harder to parent now. The homework is harder. The sports more competitive. The choices, the pressures, the social media access, the explosion of vaping in the high school bathrooms; it’s all amplified—even from five or 10 years ago. A friend of mine recently landed her dream job teaching English at a local high school and became sick from the stress. It’s hard.

I would love to teach English . . . but I digress.

Our kids who look like they don’t need us still need us. And just because I don’t have a toddler throwing a tantrum doesn’t mean I’m not parenting the hell out of my kid.

Look, there isn’t any room for me to have an ego about what I do all day. It’s MENIAL. I wake up and start driving, then laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, walking the dog, cleaning up the cat throw up, making doctors appointments, driving to summer school and back, driving to volleyball clinics and back, driving to my daughter’s friends’ houses and back, etc. That takes up MY entire day.

When society sees me walking with my daughter who looks like a woman-child who does not need any more parenting, society is utterly wrong. My daughter needed so much this year. 

She needed so much and she didn’t know it. I didn’t know it. Every day there were new challenges, new surprises, and a lot of changes. I was there to listen when she needed me most and I was there to cheer her on when she found her fire, often within minutes or hours of each other. It’s been confusing and challenging and enlightening all at once.

Society thinks I’m all finished parenting and I certainly am no longer that “young mom” at the park, and that’s hard enough. I look more tired and I am more tired than ever. And I don’t blame anyone for thinking I should have it a little more together because I didn’t know a thing about parenting a teenager when I was a toddler mom. And I still don’t really know anything except I have loved it all and I’m not done yet.

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Kara Turner

I love people like Buddy the Elf loves Christmas. I would be happiest in an elevator talking to new people all day long, even those resistant to elevator talking. What is on the inside of others is the most fascinating thing in the world to me. I want to dig in there and feel the heartbeat of unique souls.