For Five Years I’ve Lain Awake at Night Exhausted from My Teens

Parenting teens has straight up exhausted me. I had heard the stories of this age for years, much like the terrible twos, and I have even seen it first hand for two decades while teaching high schoolers, but NOTHING ON EARTH has prepared me for the experience I’ve been living for the past five years. NOTHING. As a parent of two teens. 

Parenting my teens has exhausted me. (Twenty20 @DimaBerlin)

Parenting teens has utterly exhausted me

I’m so, so tired. Tired mentally. Tired emotionally. Tired physically because the mental and emotional exhaustion physically hurts me. I feel like a fraud, a failure, because I feel like I haven’t had much enjoyment parenting these last few years, and I am mourning the time I will never get back with my children.

I am sure social media hasn’t helped these feelings, unless most parents (mothers) are putting up that happy facade like I have been, in order to push down the anxiety and stress that parenting teens has put upon them as well. 

I have never second-guessed myself more as a human being than I have for the last five years; I have lain awake at night beating myself up on the mistakes I’ve made as a parent. Did I do too much? Not enough? Is this all normal?

I lie awake at night worrying

I have lain awake at night worrying about how my teens are handling these years, and I have had my worries and fears affirmed with the struggle I see them with every day; the struggle for their mental health, their happiness…their well-being. Yet I have also seen those worries and fears fester, die, and never come to fruition; as there have been wonderful moments and periods of time through these last five years. I have learned to lean into those when I can’t cry anymore. 

I have lain awake at night wondering what I did wrong when I think about my peers and their teens and see the happiness that isn’t there for us. And then I lie there wondering if they are thinking the same thing about me and our family; do we look happy and thriving? Do we project that inaccuracy as well? 

I wonder if I am alone in my struggles

I have lain awake at night wondering if I am alone in my thoughts. I silently scream when I think about how there is literally nothing I can do but watch them make mistakes and let them learn the hard lessons, and I know it must be done, but that doesn’t help the anxious thinking and worry and fears that come with having to sit and watch. 

I have lain awake at night wondering if they have ANY idea what I am feeling and thinking, and if they do, do they care? Does it register? Do they have ANY IDEA about the fear, worry, and anxiety I feel every day? How I worry about their happiness and joy; and doesn’t every parent worry about their kids’ happiness and joy?

And then I lie there wondering if I am overreacting…if I am worrying for nothing…if this is just really how parenting teens is, it’s the ugly, fearful side that no one ever talks about. What would be different if they knew how much I worry for them, about them, and how I want them to just put all their struggles on me so I can shoulder them and fix them? What would be different?

I berate myself for wishing the early years away

I lie awake at night silently berating myself about stupidly wishing those infant, toddler, and preschool age years away because they were so stressful and worrisome (am I doing this right? Am I failing them?), when I would give anything to go back and stop time and do so much over.

I lie awake at night, praying. I pray for strength and peace. I pray for clarity and answers. I pray for my teens and their strength, peace, clarity, and answers. And I lie there praying for patience and faith.

I lie there and pray for the anxiety to pass and calm to enter me. And I lie there praying for all the other parents out there who do the same and who are afraid to or can’t talk about the last five years of parenting teens.

So if you too are a parent lying awake at night, unable to sleep for reasons only you may know about, know that this mom is as well. I see you. I know you. I am here for you.

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

More Great Reading:

Is Every Mom of a Teen This Tired?

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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