What it’s Like to be “In the Trenches” Parenting Teens

As I was getting a breast exam thirteen years ago for my 6-week postpartum appointment after birthing my third child, I was sobbing to my midwife. I didn’t care that my breasts were exposed, that I was lactating, or that I hadn’t showered in a few days. I barely knew my name and hadn’t talked to another female adult for almost 2 weeks—this was my time to vent.

Parenting Newborns is Hard

“You’re in the trenches” she said. “It won’t last forever.”

That term was new to me. I’d never heard it before, but when it came out of her mouth, it felt so right. In the trenches was exactly right and I literally couldn’t even see a speck of light at the end of the tunnel. Her words kept going through my head over and over and over. Honestly, they’ve been on repeat ever since.

I walked out of there that day like a zombie thinking, I’m in the trenches, this won’t last forever.

Then, I got home and wrestled two toddlers and a newborn into their beds for a nap and thought, I’m in the trenches, this won’t last forever, before inhaling a bag of chips and cracking open my third Diet Coke of the day.

A few years later, I was in the midst of potty-training. My youngest son said to me “I poop in my diaper forev-o because I don’t like you.” while my daughter started peeing on the kitchen floor and I thought, You’re in the trenches, this won’t last forever.

I still have not woken up from that zombie-like state. Telling myself, “this won’t last forever” has been my mantra and I’ve needed to say it every day since that afternoon of sharing breast milk issues and tears with my midwife.

She was right by the way— I am in the trenches. But, she was wrong about something: I’m pretty sure it will last forever.

mom with teen boy
This is what it feels like to be “in the trenches” with my teens. (Twenty20 @JulieK)

Parenting Teens is Really Hard

When you have kids close together, you are warned about a lot of things. You will be tired and broke and unshowered. The thing no one tells you is that there are teen-trenches too and at some point you will be there. I’m here to tell you it’s really a thing.

With three teens living in my house, there is always a strange smell floating through the air. My nostrils don’t catch a break.

Sometimes they’re filled with musty foot odor, others times I can literally taste the Axe spray. Or as my oldest son likes to call it “Shower in a can.”

You are always worried about someone. Whether you’re waiting for one of your kids to get home safely from work or a night out with friends, or one of them goes silent and won’t talk to you, your mind doesn’t get off the worry wheel. Like, ever.

There is always a person who needs you. What I mean by that is they need a ride, they need money, they need you to find a school paper they lost but was due a week ago, or they need new socks because they 45 pairs you bought them two months ago are MIA. They always need something.

Teens still have tantrums. Maybe they aren’t the same style of tantrums they used to put on full display when they were three, but let me tell you something: They still know how to throw down like nobody’s business when they don’t get their way.

Only now it’s worse because they know bigger words, are bigger than you, and say things like. “I don’t care.” when you threaten to take their phone away for life in the hope that you can get them to shape up and do their chores.

I’m in the Trenches Parenting My Teens

Just a few minutes ago I went upstairs and saw my entire glass and silverware collection scattered throughout my kids’ rooms while my oldest was yelling at me from the kitchen asking why we never had “any clean dishes or food in the house” and I thought, I’m in the trenches, this won’t last forever. 

I sure hope my midwife was right.

You may also enjoy:

I Thought Having Three Toddlers Was Hard, Then I Had Three Teens

Eight Things We All Feel In Our Forties

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

Read more posts by Katie

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