That’s It – I’m Going To Start Talking About My Teenager
I started this post months ago and there it sat, unpublished. Not that it wasn’t (more or less) done, not that I didn’t have plenty of stuff to write about, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to put our business out there. And then a friend of mine sent me this link: “Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About Raising Teenagers. I’m Lost AF” Ha – sounds like something I’d write and definitely something I’d read. So I clicked over and read it. Gotta tell you @renegademama – you’re totally right. Parenting teenagers is hard AF and no one is talking about it. Based on the fact your post has been shared 150,000 times in just two week – clearly we’re not the only ones raising teenagers and looking for some support.
It’s rampant. My Book Club crew was over the other night and inevitably the conversation turned to kids, but this time not the littles and the tweens, this time it was all about the teenagers. I’m the only one who actually has one and with the reputation that proceeds them, no wonder my fellow moms are terrified of what’s lurking around the next corner – those teenage years. Well I’m here to tell you, they should be afraid – very afraid. Because raising a teenage boy is hands down the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing things about having a teenager, especially a teenage son. Yes, I said amazing, and I mean it! It’s fun having a kid who gets my jokes, a kid who I can have a real conversation with…when he’s in the mood. It’s awesome having a kid that can mow the lawn, take out the trash, pick up his brother and help his Dad carry the heavy stuff. It’s amazing to see your kid use his manners and hold down a job. It’s fun having a kid who you see turning into the man you hoped he would be. But it’s not all sunshine and roses. And when it’s not, it’s scary as hell.
It’s scary to wake up at 3:00 a.m. and find out he’s not home. Trust me, nothing good is happening at 3:00 a.m. Thankfully those nights are few and far between but when they happen I go from he’s fine to full blown planning his funeral in just 2.3 seconds. And the worst part? When he finally came home that night he couldn’t understand why I was scared.
Why was I so scared? Because I was a teenager once upon a time pushing the limits of my own parents’ house. Because I know how lucky I was that those dumb decisions turned out okay. Because I know what lurks in the shadows of 3 a.m. Because I know how much I love that child and how wrecked I would be if something ever happened to him.
It’s out of that love that one of my favorite Mom mantras was born. All three of my boys know it. That mantra? It only takes one bad decision to ruin your life. They’ve heard it over and over and over again because I know it to be true. Which is why I’ve raised my boys to be independent, to make their own decisions in hopes that I’ve given them enough guidance along the way to not only make decisions, but to make good decisions. I repeat the mantra over and over again in hopes that when they are forced to make a decision it’s my voice they hear over all the rest.
Sadly, I know mine isn’t the only voice they hear when faced with a decision to make. Suddenly I’m competing with the popular kids, Snapchat, YouTube, laundry pods, Juuls, Mary Jane, Jack Daniels, Captain Morgan – that’s what makes it scary.
It’s not just my kid and his friends I worry about, it’s all of those other guys as well: the close down the bar crowd, the after hours crowd, the out all night crowd. The I’m okay to drive crowd, the racing crowd, the macho frat boy, hazing crowd, the just try it crowd. Those are the guys who worry me the most, those guys whose moms I won’t ever know and who may not hear their mom’s voice in their ear when making a decision between driving or not.
It’s not just the curfew drama that scares me, it’s the sex, the drinking, the drugs, but worst of all? The silence. It’s him retreating to his room following some kind of mumbled greeting and me not knowing if he’s mad or sad or feeling bad and with no clue when he’ll emerge again. What goes on in that bedroom? What goes on in that mind? Toddlers are open books, teenagers are more like a vault with eighteen different locks whose combinations change every two minutes. What happened to that kid who used to share things with me? The one who used to invite his friends over whose giggling brought a smile to my face?
While his silence is sheer torture, there’s something worse – the silence among the moms. No one talks about this stuff. Ever.
As a parent of a teenager, I feel so isolated sometimes. And I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a really good kid, but he’s still a teenager. He’s still pushing those boundaries. And I still worry about him. Sure, I can talk with my friends, but most of their kids are younger. Sure, I could talk with his friends’ parents, but I’ve never met many of them now that the kids all drive. Sure, I can turn to social media, but that only makes it worse, all of those sports and prom photos, awards and what not, isn’t anyone else’s kid blowing curfew, sulking in his room, or skipping school? Getting suspended? Drinking? Smoking pot? Having sex? Watching porn?
I get it, it’s embarrassing and we want to protect our teenagers’ privacy and our own pride. But man, oh man, it sucks. Seriously, there’s no help out there for Moms with teenagers.
We’ve got to start talking about all things kids, even the big teenager kind of kids. Seriously, teenagers – they are no joke. I say it all the time, the bigger the kid the bigger the problem. There’s so much more at stake with the big guys – college, drinking, driving, drugs, bullying, sex, depression, anxiety – big stuff for our babies to navigate, for us Moms to navigate. And there’s no handbook, no help, and no one talking about it.
So…I’m going to find a way. I’m sorry #2, but I have to. This is one of those times where loving you just isn’t enough. I’ll do my best to keep you out of it, I really will, but I make no promises. Trust me, it’s not just for me, but for you and for your friends and for their moms who are all just doing the best we can and hoping it’s enough.