And Then They Became Teenagers

So, it’s official. I’m a blogger.

Not one of those sit-in-your-room all day bloggers. I’m too busy for that. But as much as I have going on externally, I have even more going on internally. My mind is constantly churning, constantly thinking, wondering, analyzing. Ok, maybe I give myself too much credit. Still, I want to share my experiences, my ideas, my if-only-I-had-a-do-over moments. I don’t proclaim to be an expert, but I do know I have experiences that ought to count for something.

Oh sure, there are lots of people like me out there in blogger world. Tips on everything from gardening (which I could definitely use) to how one might become a tight rope acrobat are easily accessible to even people like my mom (who still prefers a type writer over email). I still think I have some good stuff to share. And so I will. Even if nobody cares to read about it. I’m going to consider it “therapy”, because we all could use a little (or a lot).

MY STORY:

I’m a wife (my husband is awesome), I’m a mother, I’m a step-mother, sister, aunt, teacher, student, soon-to-be-grandmother (we’ll save that for another post)….so I think I’m rather qualified. I’ve messed up more than I care to admit. I think I’ve done some things well, too- like getting my master’s degree in education and leading my church’s children’s ministry program. Oh, and how about that time I gave birth with no painkillers? 18 hours of pure hell. That was epic.

 And then they became teenagers.

“They”, meaning my kids. My two step children first, and now my bio son too. Not overnight, but gradually. I thought I was prepared. I thought I knew a good bit about parenting already. After all, I read a ton of parenting books, starting with the most famous one of them all, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I piggybacked that book with the What to Expect in the First Year. After year one, with two-step kids already showing me the way, I figured I was an expert. It was getting fairly easy. I had been crapped on, screamed at, I dropped them once or twice, forgot the wipes, helped him walk, taught them how to ride a bike. I could pack a diaper bag in 5 seconds flat. I saw every imaginable horror while teaching 8th graders in public school (no way was any of that ever going to happen to my children!). I WAS an expert.

I was tired though, too. I was looking forward to when they were more like adults. When they could bathe themselves, cook a meal now and then, clean up their rooms. Boy wouldn’t that be great? If I could just get through the first decade or so. And I did, and there was a brief moment when motherhood was bliss. I could go do things without them. I could work on my own social life. I could date my husband again. I volunteered in their classrooms and showed them all off like trophies. I enjoyed their company, too and took those quiet moments alone with them to give them all the worldly advice I had. And they listened. And they nodded their heads. And I knew I was good. One of the best.

And then they became teenagers.

See, every parent knows the first few years are tough. Obviously, because there are a million and one books and websites and support groups to help you along, right? You take birthing classes and lactation classes. People come visit you as soon as you come home with that little bundle of joy, and they help. Lord, do they help. You join the baby-and-me [insert whatever-swim, gymnastics, clay pottery] club, the MOPS group (for those of you totally clueless, that’s Mother’s of Preschoolers- the know-all organization every good mom joins) invites you to their weekly outings. You scour Pinterest for the best ideas on homemade baby food, and you read every (pause) single book on how to be the best parent ever. You might not know it, you might feel overwhelmed or hopeless sometimes, but you have lots of help. When they’re young.

And then they become teenagers.

The help disappears. Vanishes. Poof. You’re alone, with no real advice to be found. There are some books, geared toward the worst-case scenarios (when your child starts killing animals sort of thing). You can find some stuff online, too. But mostly, you’re alone. Oh sure, you hear other moms of older teens say things like, “just you wait” (and you never dare ask what that means), but seriously, there’s not much else. It’s like everyone assumes, since you mastered diaper changing and onsie snapping, that now you now know exactly how to respond when son #1 tells you he smoked his first cigarette (this happened to me), or daughter #1 tells you the love of her life hit her, hard (this happened to me). Sending them to their room to “think about what you’ve just done” somehow has lost its effect. Especially when that beautiful face you once rocked to sleep in your arms uses words like “You don’t know what you’re talking about” and (gasp…tear) “I hate you”. It seems the available advice is always hindsight. So she drank at a party? Ok, this is what you should have done. So he quit sports and his grades are slipping? Ok, well obviously you missed these signs. There’s no What to Expect When They Turn Into Monsters (and they will) book anywhere, on any shelf, in any store, period. You’re on an island, and you run the gamut of emotions. Shame, confusion, anxiety, exhaustion and yes, even joy.

Because they WILL bring you joy, too.

And so comes this blog. A blog from the depths of my own despair. From the annals of my own experiences and insights. From the pages and pages of my own research. I’ll tackle a lot. I’ll challenge the conventional way of raising teens (is there even one?). I’ll touch on the joys and the pit falls we will all go through, one way or another. And I welcome your feedback and gentle encouragement along the way (haters not allowed-ever).  Image

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