Like so many other women who planned on having kids, I imagined myself getting pregnant and announcing it to my family in a candle lit room as we all held hands and sang a celebration song. I could picture my baby shower; it would be lavish, I’d be glowing, wearing a slinky dress and carry every ounce of baby weight in my belly.
I would give birth and walk out of the hospital room wearing my favorite pair of jeans I wore before I was pregnant. The baby years might be little hard, sure, but I’d handle it because how hard can it be to take care of a tiny human who sleeps for about fifteen hours a day?
My house would be spotless at all times and when friends and family stopped by, we’d enjoy tea in pretty cups as the baby slept soundly in their ruffled bassinet.
My daydreams about my growing family didn’t match reality of course, not even a little bit. I’m not sure they do for anyone. I don’t know a parent out there who has ever said, “This parenting gig is way easier than I thought.”
Being pregnant, childbirth, and those first few years are incredibly messy. They have their beautiful moments, sure, but let’s face it, they are few and far between. And I have to admit, for me, the teenage years have been the messiest of them all. I literally have no idea what I’m doing most of the time despite being a teenager and a mother for over 14 years. Just because I’ve been at it for a little bit, doesn’t make it any easier. I literally do my best, then pray, and hope it all turns out okay.
They are still constantly changing as they grow, and when you get used to one stage, you better not get too comfortable, because like those younger years, teens will change on a dime and it’s impossible to keep up with each stage.
So why I imagined my children as teenagers who would walk in the door say, “Hello, Mother, how was your day?” as we sat at our kitchen island and exchanged pleasantries before we started making an exquisite dinner, is beyond me.
I mean, I knew there would be trials and tribulations, people talk about it all the time. I knew we’d have to have to all the serious talks about drinking, drugs, and sex, and I would worry a bit more, but that’s as far as I let my mind go.
I realize now, that when my kiddos were little and we were in the trenches, I wasn’t able to hear the message “Little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems” despite people saying it over and over. Messages like that don’t sink in until you’re actually going through it. Kind of how we never know how hard it will be to take care of a child (or slide our old jeans on postpartum), until we’re in the moment.
During the teenage years, when you child is on their way to breaking free from the nest, it can be hard to watch. You know it’s for the best, they feel capable and are wanting to explore a new life on their own, but when you look at them you still see your young child. And that can be what makes it so hard to set our babies free.
It’s not easy having a child who used to tell you every detail of their life and couldn’t get enough of you, change to solely communicating with you through shoulder shrugs and grunts.
It’s hard to tell when your teen is having a few bad days, or is really struggling with something and needs your help. I’ve realized my kids don’t always have the words to tell me what’s going on with them, even if they want to.
There are wonderful things about these years, but I had no idea it would be like this. I didn’t know I would struggle so much. I knew I would worry, but you don’t know the emotional toll raising teenagers can have on you until you go through it.
But I hear form fellow moms of teens (thank God for them), this is how it’s supposed to feel. It means you are a good parent; it means you care; it means you are doing something right.
And I am going to hold onto that sentiment, because honestly, it’s the only thing getting me through it all. I literally feel like if I can get through raising three teenagers, I can do anything.