There are plenty of times in my life when I have felt I was walking on eggshells. It always involved a situation when I was with someone older because most of my memories of those moments involve me being young. I did not want to anger anyone. I was scared to fall out of their good graces, so I would find myself always going with the flow and being extremely polite. I would be quiet and try not to be visible yet still have a shadow.

As a 40-something-year-old mom of two boys—a teenager and a preteen—I find myself reverting back to that younger version of myself I thought I had left behind like my obsession with Aqua Net hairspray. I did not want to revisit that age when I was constantly scared of offending someone with a hello instead of a hi. My acid reflux is on the rise just like the anticipation that builds when you are slowly going up a roller coaster. You know there will come a point when you will stop for a brief second, and then boom!—it is all downhill, a million miles a second. This is my life lately.

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Every morning, I find myself wondering what mood will come from my boys today. Will one be happy and the other hopefully follow suit? Or will they both be in a mood where all I want to do is beg my husband to take a leave from work so I can go on sabbatical to a tropical island where COVID does not exist but an endless supply of wine does?

I miss the age when it was all cuddles and sweet kisses. These days, asking them if they want toast or cereal can bring on the Cold War.

I tried to prepare myself for puberty, but no matter how many mantras and affirmations I try to tell myself, I am not prepared for all the mood swings.

Even the dog has picked up on the craziness and goes on hunger strikes if he does not get eggs mixed with kibble in the morning. Is it the antibiotics in the dairy causing this? I wonder if Mercury has decided on an extended stay in retrograde. I have seriously gone down the rabbit hole of endless Googling trying to figure this out.

I am constantly walking on eggshells on their moody days. Maybe they feel they can only be their true selves around their mom. They know deep down that mom is the one person in their world who will not hold a grudge. I forget they are growing up during a pandemic and they miss all the normal activities that come with teenage years.

I know the days are long and the years are short. Alas, I have resolved to try to embrace this phase.

Besides an endless supply of self-help books, the thing that keeps me going is the fact they are still both great kids. They find different ways to volunteer while maintaining safety precautions during this pandemic. Both of them always say goodnight even if I make them leave their video game abruptly, and they are avid readers. If they get an attitude when I ask a question, they will apologize after that imaginary, post-Cold War treaty has been signed in their head. I still get hugs and homemade cards. On the days that it feels like all of us are on the same cycle, one of them will ask if I want to split a chocolate bar.

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I am the only recipient of their moodiness, and I will take it. I know I am blessed to have my kids and family. My self-help books are big on gratitude, so I am learning to be grateful for all the hormones and puberty. As for my husband, I am hoping to make up for all the mood swings he does not experience with the kids during my menopause years.

Zeel Patel

Zeel Patel lives in North Carolina with her family and sweet puppy, Theodore Roosevelt. She works in healthcare but her passion is writing. When not working, you can find her volunteering at her kids' schools, typing away on her laptop, or reading well into the night. Her motivation comes from those who were not granted enough time to finish their story. Follow her on Twitter @zpatel24