The Teen Years Are Hard but I Love Them More Than the Younger Years

For Valentine’s Day, my daughter ran into the house from her dad’s and handed me a container of chocolate covered strawberries that she had made. To go with it, she made a card and gifted me some of her products from a makeup subscription box her father buys for her.

mom with girls
Parenting teens is hard but I love these years. (arek_malang/Shutterstock)

At 15 my daughter is my friend and companion

At fifteen years old, I know I have more than a daughter. I have a lifelong friend. I have a soul who will always watch out for me just as much as I watch out for her. I see it in the way she makes sure I’m at my boyfriend’s house safely. “Text me when you get there,” she says. She’s become my shopping buddy, my cooking partner, and someone who can tease me. We can be our true selves around each other and not worry about being judged.

My sons are now seventeen and fourteen. I used to have to watch their every move. They both have big personalities and I had to hover over them. My oldest was loud and as a young kid he would interrupt anyone who talked to him. His younger brother knew how to squiggle away from me at a very early age and was constantly running toward the street and throwing temper tantrums.

His kindergarten teacher told me at our conference that she used to watch me struggle with him every single day and she hoped he wasn’t gouging to be in her class. Of course, she fell in love with his “big eyes and sweet demeanor” when she did have him for an entire year, but I wasn’t offended when she told me that.

Now my sons look out for me

They have gone from two kids who used to exhaust me, who couldn’t leave my sight, to two young men who look out for me. “I don’t think you should run today mom, it’s too icy,” said my son yesterday while I was looking out the window contemplating whether I should get out there or not.

He constantly asks if I need anything while he’s in town, and he always makes sure I’m doing something fun if he’s with his dad on a holiday. I thought parenting would become easier as they got older. These years are harder though.

Just the other night my oldest was late for his curfew- something that never happens — and I was worried sick. Having him on the road, driving to work, and seeing his girlfriend has me missing the days he was tucked safely inside.

All of my kids have struggled in school

All of my kids have struggled in school. The social pressure gets to them. My daughter especially. I worry about her and her mental health. Especially lately when she’s been so isolated. It feels like everything is really hard for her and I want to make sure she’s taking an active role in her life as she prepares to be a young adult. She’s had bouts of cutting herself, she’s been in therapy a few times, and she struggles to make friends.

They’ve all been caught smoking pot and I’ve had to make some hard decisions about some of their friendships. Our teens make some good decisions but they also make some bad ones; decisions that keep us up and night and leave us wondering how we’re going to get through the teen years.

When they were young I feel like I had some control, not anymore

When they are younger we know that they will eventually get potty trained. We know they will sleep through the night at some point. We know the tantrums at the grocery store will fade away. The teen years have been hard for me as a mother because the illusion of control is gone.

I miss my kids even though they are still living at home. They love staying in their room and I long for the days when we’d all park ourselves on the sofa and watch some obnoxious cartoon.

The teens years have been harder for me because one minute it feels like we are on track. Then the next there’s a crack in the ice and I wonder what I could have done better as their mother to guide them in a more positive direction.

Although these years are hard, I love them

The teen years have been harder for me for so many reasons. But, I love them more.
I adore the bonds I’ve created with my kids. I get so much out of talking to them and learning from them. There are Friday nights when we are sitting around the island eating pizza and laughing about something one of them did a long time ago.

I didn’t feel this kind of connection with them when they were young. And although those moments are far too infrequent, they have the power to make me realize that the struggle of being a mom to teens has been my favorite part of motherhood so far.

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

More to Read:

Dear Mom and Dad, Stick With Me

The Kids Are Not All OK; Maybe It’s Time To Let Them Grieve

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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