Letter to My Second Teen: You Have a Better Version of Me

When you were born and weighed just a tad more than a bag of sugar, I lifted you up and fed you like, well, an expert because I was. At that point, I’d nursed your brother for a year so I was armed with the best nursing bras and plenty of lanolin. I didn’t worry if you didn’t latch on or you turned your head and didn’t want to eat.

mom and two daughters
My second child has a better version of me. (Twenty20 @Hayley_Alexander)

By the time you came along, I had the nursing thing down

I didn’t have the whole leaky boob thing down to a science but I was pretty close. No one could have prepared me for that hot July day when you were six weeks old and I was in your aunt’s wedding and you started to cry just as I stood next to her and held her bouquet so she could say her vows. But, I made it through and was able to strategically hold my flowers just so, and no one knew I was lactating in front of a hundred people.

If that scene had happened with your brother, I would have frozen, then panicked, then probably cried.

When I dropped you off for your first day of work the other day and you were visibly nervous and when you told me you weren’t sure if you could get out of the car, I wanted to keep driving. I wanted to tell you that you didn’t have to go in.

You will find one day, no matter how old your kids get, when they are struggling, nervous, or scared, all you can see is the baby version of them, and the Mama Bear version of yourself.

Experience has helped me be a better mom

However, I was able to handle a situation like that better with you than I was with your brother. I was able to talk you through it in a way that kept us both calm, and I saved my own anxiety about the situation for myself.

You see, I know now that you all need me to put my game face on for you and give you a little push without being critical and I know how to stop my emotions from getting the best of me.

I experienced so many firsts with your brother. He was the first to go to school, to spend the night at a friend’s house, to work, to have a girlfriend, to drive, to get in trouble at school. All of these experiences taught me lessons, as have all of the many mistakes I’ve made along the way.

I wish I could have a do-over with my oldest

I wish I could take back those mistakes for your brother’s sake. I’ve learned that it doesn’t help to hover when my kids want to be left alone. It doesn’t do any good to really freak out when you’ve made a mistake or to force you to talk about it before you are ready and before I am calm.

I realize it seems unfair at times that he gets to do more and stay up later than you do. But, the fact that he broke me in has helped me realize which battles are worth fighting. It’s made me realize what’s important. It’s taught me how teenagers like to communicate and how to love them without smothering.

When you were young and learning how to ride a bike or when I had to explain that Santa Clause didn’t exist, you had the seasoned version of me. You got the mother who had been there before and had practiced handling herself and had learned how to handle many situations.

My younger two are getting a better mom

You are getting a better me. Yes, I may seem exasperated and so tired my bones hurt, but I’m so much better at this than I used to be. I know life with teens is a constant roller coaster and I’ve stopped trying to fight it. I’m here for the ride.

Not only can I detect lies a lot better, I know the tricks of the teenage trade, and believe it or not, you will be better off for it one day. I know how to do this mother-teenager dance a lot better than I did just a few years ago when your brother was breaking me in. You are who is reaping the benefits.

You get someone who realizes it’s not effective to fly off the handle about every little thing. I know your room isn’t always going to be clean, you aren’t going to like me most of the time and I should always buy more food than I think we will need.

So, to my second teen, you are the lucky one. I know you don’t see it that way but one day I’m sure you will realize how much more “chill” with you and how I overreacted to everything your brother did. Then you will realize that being the second in line to be a teenager under this roof really did have a lot of benefits.

More to Read:

How Parents Can Spend Time With Their Teens Right Now

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

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.