When my kids were younger it seemed perfectly acceptable to ask for help.
Can you watch my kids for an hour while I go to the grocery store?
Can you give me advice for my picky eater?
Can you show me how to swaddle, I can’t get it right?
What do you do when you’re about to eat dinner and your child starts crying?
It’s hard at the time, you are exhausted, but asking for help or advice feels okay because there seems to be an understanding that small kids are a handful and we can’t do it alone all the time.
As my kids have gotten older and more self-sufficient, I’ve realized something I didn’t think about when they were small: I still need help. I figured once I was out of the trenches, I would be in the clear. I wouldn’t be as tired and I’d be able to handle more without reaching out for help from my village.
I certainly didn’t think I would be texting my sister in the middle of the afternoon telling her I was at my wit’s end and I needed some help with my teen. But here we are – I still need help. I still need my village. And I need them now more than ever, I need to talk about how hard it is when your kids hit puberty and turn into different people.
I need to be honest about how there are times when I don’t even recognize my own children and how lonely that can feel. I honestly feel like I’m doing a horrible job lately.
I constantly wonder if I’m missing something. I’m always thinking of ways to be a better mom. This has been something that isn’t easy to admit. Not for me, not for my mom friends. We somehow think we should know exactly what we are doing at all time – we are seasoned moms after all. We should know how to adjust our kids’ attitudes without questioning ourselves. But it doesn’t work like that. Not even close.
When our kids are small we can talk until we are blue in the face about the struggles that come in the early years: The difficult bedtimes, the tantrums they throw in public places, and it’s somehow acceptable because all kids go through difficult stages and behaviors when they are little.
But it continues as they get older. And I’ve found it’s harder to talk about the problems I have with my teens and tweens and other moms agree. It’s not easy to let our guard down and talk about the reality of life with a teenager. The mood swings and disrespectful tones.
It’s heartbreaking when we don’t see them living up to the potential we know they have. It can feel lonely when we see them pulling away and showing lack of interest in activities they used to love. A lot of teens are going to experiment with sex, alcohol, and drugs. They are going to break the rules, drive too fast, and throw back talk at you.
So many of us are left wondering, What am I dong wrong? How is it that I am raising this person?
Which is why it is important to talk about these situations and be real about what parenting a teen can be like. There’s a stigma attached to it too, I’d love to say everyone meets these problems with compassion and understand but they don’t.
But that isn’t a reason to feel ashamed or try to pretend like everything is fine in your world. No one raises a teen and says, “Well, that was easy;” at least no one I’ve met anyway.
As moms, we still need our village when our kids grow up. We need safe places to talk without feeling judged. We need help and support just like we did when we first brought our babies home.
This journey doesn’t end just because our kids can pack their own lunch and remind you what day they have soccer practice. Parents of teens have to be on all the time. We have to watch for anxiety, depression, and what our kids are doing on social media.
They still have to be reminded to bring their best every day. They are going to test waters so often we are going to wonder when they are going to get tired of challenging us.
And it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes that will look like dropping off your son to do chores at someone else’s house for an afternoon, and sometimes that will look like getting together with your girlfriends to talk about the struggles you and your kids are facing.
Either way you are doing it, be sure you deeply love your children. So don’t ever think you shouldn’t need or ask for help just because your kids are taller than you and mostly self-sufficient. Parents of tweens, teens and beyond need just as much help and understanding as new mothers do.