These teen years aren’t what you thought they would be, are they?
Everyone warned you about the teen years when you had a chubby little toddler with big eyes, long lashes, and a giggle that turned heads.
“Just wait until he is a teen!” you heard more times than you could count.
The more they warned you, the more you determined to prove them wrong. You would be a compassionate listener and an understanding discipliner. Your home would always be open for their friends. You would show those parents it didn’t have to be so difficult.
Stinky clothes, dishes growing mold under the bed, eye-rolling, curfew arguments, and everything in between—bring it on!
All went smooth when the candles were blown out that thirteenth year. The teen years officially began, and no monster emerged. Nothing more than the usual friend drama that had always been. In fact, this newfound independence was making life easier on the whole family.
Life went on with small ups and downs, as you had anticipated.
Then the unthinkable happened. Mood swings. Insecurity. Anxiety.
Teen angst and rebellion you prepared for, but anxiety? That came out of left field. It wasn’t planned for. No one had even mentioned this. It wasn’t part of the dreaded warnings.
It’s like navigating a dangerous minefield—blindfolded. Oh, and some days, carrying your child on your back as well. Never knowing where the next trigger is hidden that turns them into the Hulk or huddling in their bed.
It’s painful, I know.
You see other parents and wonder what it’s like to parent that sassy teenager you had mentally prepared for.
I know how awkward it is when other moms talk about their kids hardly being home, but you know where yours is. Home in bed. At 3 p.m. Unable to cope with the world again today.
I know what it’s like to hear words like: 1 in 5. Mental health disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder. Depressive symptoms. Unhealthy coping methods. Medication. Safety plans. Counseling.
I know what it’s like to worry constantly. You worry about leaving them home alone on bad days. In fact, you cancel plans to stay home when you see the darkness in their eyes. You worry about why they didn’t answer your texts. Even worrying about their sleep while they’re in bed.
I know what it’s like to be consistently scheduling counseling and doctor appointments.
I know what it’s like to discuss medications you never thought you would have to think about.
I know what it’s like to be nervous for the bus to drop them off. Which kid will you get today? The cheerful, but tired one? The one on the verge of a breakdown? The one who pushes everyone away in anger?
I know what it’s like to sit with them in their bed in the middle of the night as they ask you, “What’s the point?” “Why should I keep trying?” and “When will this end?”
I know the fear, the questions, the lack of answers (and sleep), the desperation, and the regrets.
I know how unfair it is to watch your child struggle while others blossom.
But, I also know what it’s like to see them smile (not the fake one you are used to, but a real one from the soul) and to treasure it like the first newborn smile many years ago.
I know what it’s like to see them excited about plans with friends and how you blink back tears of happiness as you volunteer to drive them.
I know what it’s like to see them embrace something they didn’t even dream of doing just a few short months ago.
I know what it’s like to hear them talk about the future without convincing them that they actually have one.
I know what it’s like to leave those dark days behind and see them dream of new possibilities.
I know what it’s like to finally meet the real kid again. How thrilling it is to rediscover the true personality after it was disguised by poor mental health for so long.
I know because I am you.
So, keep going. Make those appointments. Find friends who encourage you while you care for your teen. Keep an open discussion about medication and therapy. Find those who will speak light and truth into their lives. Build a team of supporters. Share your struggle. Ask for prayer. Educate yourself and your family.
The light at the end of the tunnel is possible.
The mom who cried those tears, too—and made it to the other side
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