It seemed the moment the pregnancy test showed a positive result, the loads of advice from well-meaning parents appeared as well. I get it. Now, I’m a seasoned parent, so I often feel compelled to pass on my wisdom to the newbies. One particular thing the established parents would say was, “Oh, you have a girl. You just wait!” or “Just wait for their teen years!”
The moment I’d think my 8, 9, 10, or 11-year-old daughter was being sweet, there’d undoubtedly be a sour-looking, worn-out mom of teens, lurking in the shadows ready to burst my bubble.
“Oh, you just wait. Teenage girls are horrible,” they’d warn, heads shaking, their wide eyes telling a story of my impending rough road ahead.
So, I braced myself. Waiting. But something inside me said . . . It can’t be that bad. Can it?
Well, it’d better not be, because I was a mom of two girls! I could not spend a decade-plus in sheer misery, fearing my own flesh and blood.
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Well, I ventured into the early teen years, holding my breath, waiting for the dark period. Of course, we stumbled upon some natural rough patches–navigating friendships, the usual middle-school angst, and perpetual messy rooms. But, there’d been plenty of tough spots in the early childhood years too (I still have PTSD from the temper tantrums in Toys”R”Us.)
So, I relaxed and began to feel good about mothering teens. But I often wondered if I was like the naïve female in a horror flick taking a midnight stroll through the woods with a masked murderer poised behind a tree ready to let me have it. Because any time I’d mention I had teen girls, I’d get the look. That same annoying, dreadful look.
Well, here I am, celebrating my daughter’s 19th birthday, and we’re weeks away from sending her off to college. My heart is heavy because her teen years are almost over, and she’s ready to decorate a new room 150 miles away.
I keep thinking about how I’ll miss seeing her sweet face at our kitchen table every day, how I’ll miss our adult conversations, our inside jokes, helping her make lunches and daily decisions. I’ll miss greeting her every morning in her baggy flannel PJs and messy bun and discussing our plans for the day. I’ll miss her looking up at me from her phone, wide-eyed, anxious to report to me the recent friend-drama, who’s-dating-whom, or share the latest Bachelor breaking news.
I’ll miss her hugs. The ones I never had to ask for, but the ones she offered freely.
And, I may even miss the occasional grumpy moods, eye-rolls, mile-high stack of used drinking glasses on her nightstand, and even the scattered dirty clothes across the bedroom floor.
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So, now I’m waiting once again. This time for her to be a horrible teen in these final weeks so I’ll want to kick her out of my house and happily send her away. But something tells me the only horror I’ll soon face is seeing her empty room the morning after drop-off day.
So, my advice now to new parents, or parents of pre-teens, is don’t worry about the future because while having a teen comes with piles of smelly clothes, it also comes with piles of blessings.
I sometimes add my personal recipe that worked for me: put in the time before they hit the teen years, demand respect, get in their face and up in their business, and insist on quality time. Then, hopefully, all the work will pay off and one day during that summer before college starts, you’ll find yourself sharing stories across the kitchen table with your new best friend. And if I do happen to say with a pained expression, “Oh just wait for their teen years,” it’s only because I know what comes with it–the eventual ending of their childhood.
And new parents, don’t anticipate unfolding horror. Well, at least not until you have to say goodbye to your teen on college drop-off day. And, I’m hoping that’s not as bad as they say either. Because along with the messy stuff of raising children, comes the blessings.