I’m not entirely serious, but maybe I am. You’ll never know. Or you will. Maybe.

It’s funny how much advice exists about how to deal with small kid issues.  Books, magazines, blog posts, television shows, radio podcasts . . . it’s abundant.  How do you stop the pacifier habit?  What do you do about nap-times?  What’s the best age to potty-train?  Everyone has an opinion and a solution and facts to help the new mother.

But we old moms?  Those of us who have teenagers whom we can’t really discuss because they have Internet access . . . well, we are the ones who truly need help.  We have questions without answers and worries that can’t be addressed with a time-out and a reward chart.  We’ve been mothers long enough to know that we really don’t have a clue and that everything that unfolds will unfold with or without our permission or guidance.  What we want is assurance but no one can assure us of anything.  I liked being a mom of a two-year old better.  I felt more competent back then.

Oh, the old days of struggling with overdoses of apple juice and tantrums on the kitchen floor and picky eaters seem like a fairy tale compared to now.

Part of the problem for me is that I was one of those teenagers who had no interest in causing trouble or wreaking havoc.  I was a careful young person, determined not to make mistakes.  I babysat on weekends and spent time in the library looking for more reading material.  I was independent from a young age and focused on the future.  So I have no idea how to relate to teenagers who aren’t me.

Well, maybe you know what I mean.

Parents of teenagers who are really troublesome keep quiet.  No one wants to admit defeat.  And you can’t really talk about your teenager without it getting back to your kid.

Of course, there are parents of teenagers who are thriving, who are Mr. Homecoming and the Class President and who have found a cure for cancer already while rescuing unwanted kittens and writing classical music for the cello.  Those kind of parents make me feel like a failure . . . even though I know that their parenting has little to do with their kid’s achievement . . . because some kids are just like that.  Someone has to be Mr. Homecoming and the Class President, after all.

I believe most behavior is genetic.  It’s pre-programmed, just as inevitable as brown eyes or knobby knees.  But that doesn’t stop me from thinking maybe I can change the course of a river with a few gentle suggestions and raised eyebrows.

I wonder if someday I’ll look back on this phase of life with something resembling nostalgia.  I kind of doubt it.

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I’m not entirely serious, but maybe I am. You’ll never know. Or you will. Maybe.

6 thoughts on “I’m not entirely serious, but maybe I am. You’ll never know. Or you will. Maybe.

  1. Vivian says:

    my youngest about drove me crazy. i was on the verge of packing the car and leaving without notice. she is now 32 and the best mother of my 3 girls.
    she was a teen mom…and i thought…holy cow i am going to have to raise this grandchild…not to be…that baby changed her life and she has never stopped since.
    he is the teenage boy who has a goal in life and nothing will stop him from being the best he can be.
    it really is all in God’s hand…just keep praying.

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  2. Elizabeth says:

    Amen! I don’t care what any still-unjaded young mom says about how terrible the toddler years are, the later years are harder and much, much more complex. I’m so glad I didn’t know that 10 years ago. But seriously, I think you should write a book to help the rest of us with these crazy teen years!

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  3. Alicia says:

    Oh my heavens. You are not alone, that I can assure you. I have asked myself so many times “What have I done wrong?!”. My daughter was so sweet, smart and athletic when she was young. Then we moved back to our hometown when she was in 3rd grade. She completely changed, and not for the better. She stopped playing sports, struggled in school, and made bad choices in friends. All we can do is stay strong and steady, providing guidance without being suffocating. My daughter started finding her way back on track when we relocated to another state a few months ago. This has been a fresh start for her and she is thriving in her new high school. She won’t be homecoming queen or 1st in her class, but she’s focused on school and acheiving her goals of college and life. You will make it through their teen years. We all will. It’s not easy. And you’re not alone.

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  4. Claire in CA, USA says:

    I’m praying you find support from a person who understands, and that said teen(s?) straightens up and flies right. Big hugs, Mel.

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  5. I’m on my 5th teenager.. This boy has been easier than the others.. but he still has some issues. He’s my step son so I try not to bug him too much.. but when something is blatant I have to say something. I have my husband do most of the talking to him but a lot comes from me through to him. My own 3 were rascals and gave me a run for my money.. but they were raised right just as I’m sure your kids are. They are now all happy, healthy adults and doing well. The two boys I have had for the last 11 years are very different from my kids.. I’ve trained them to be polite, have “some” manners and behave. They do for the most part but I can sense an underlying disrespect for me. We had an issue last night with the 18 year old. Nothing horrible but just ignoring things I had asked him to do. I brought it up in front of his Dad.. and thankfully, Dad backed me up. It’s hard being a Mom to teens.. I feel your pain.. and I’m looking forward to this stage being over. I had a goal to have all my children by the age of 30.. which I did.. and then what did I do? Married a man with young kids. I never thought I would be raising them but I am.. I’ve done my best with them but it’s been hard.. Hang in there.. you are a good Mom and eventually they will get past the teen years and go back to the roots you have instilled in them.

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