This week I’ve been musing on the raising of teens and just what a dangerous endeavor it can be. I suppose parenting in general, really. It’s this seemingly never-ending cycle of need and rejection that starts in infancy, cruises along, and really hits its stride in the preteen or teenage years.
Teens are funny creatures. No longer children, yet not quite adults, they reel you in with need and vulnerability, firing off every nurturing mama-nerve you possess. When one’s baby is struggling, it’s a visceral response that comes out. We want to help. We want to offer wisdom. After all, we have a lot more life experience to draw from.
So we start momming.
With the purest of intent (or so we believe), we offer our benevolent guidance and WHAM! The rejection strikes hard and without warning. Suddenly they are independent geniuses who, lightning-quick, chop you up and throw you overboard like so much chum, leaving you dazed and wondering if getting ravaged by a pack of hungry sharks may just be easier than this parenting gig.
I have two female teens in my home now and some days I feel the whiplash of trying to track the inevitable hormonal swings. One moment we’re enjoying a heartfelt conversation, discussing friends and fashion, memes and the meaning of life. It’s beautiful. An hour later their heads are spinning around backwards and they’re speaking in guttural tones through cracked, dead lips.
Then, just as you’re looking up ‘Exorcism Services’ in the yellow pages they get all soft and dewy-eyed, once more tweaking those mama strings. And thus, the cycle begins all over again.
I have been mothering teens for a decade now, having anywhere from one to three at any given time. No wonder I’m perpetually exhausted!
Seriously though, I can’t complain at all. By and large, my kiddos are fantastic people, loving and respectful. Rationally I understand this season won’t last forever. I’ve survived two already and my grown children are a joy, both of whom I count among my closest friends.
But some weeks, like this week, the combination of two teen girls and a menopausal mother creates a cauldron of miscommunication and hurt feelings, which is why I’m pondering all this in the first place.
As I started writing this in my head yesterday I was intending to encourage you all to find another mama out there who is in this whole need/rejection cycle with her kids and reach out, and indeed, I am going to tell you all to reach out and let a sister know she’s got this. That she’s doing great, and that you’re on her side…that she’s not alone.
But that’s not all. There’s a whole other side to this.
After a couple of days feeling chewed up, my daughter came to me and in all humility said, “I’m sorry, mom, that I’ve been snippy. I don’t mean to be. I’m really stressed out about…..” And she proceeded to share, with tears in her eyes, all the pressures she’s feeling this week. Interestingly, the biggest stressor for her was the emotional swings. She knows they’re normal but she hates them nonetheless and in that moment of vulnerability I was vividly reminded of how danged hard growing up can be.
As I held this precious child for a good long moment, I was grateful for the honor of being her mum. Even as I knew the clashes aren’t over, I also know my Father will equip me to navigate each one with dignity and an extra dose of grace.
So my challenge includes the teens in your life. My friends, they too need to know that they’re doing great, that you’re on their side…that they’re not alone. Oh, and it can’t hurt to remind them (and ourselves!) that the roller coaster of hormonal emotions won’t last forever.
Momming is hard, but so is growing up. May we remember both sides of this and offer love and grace to all. Amen? So, my friends, if you too are feeling like shark feed this week, let me assure you that you’re not alone in the chum bucket. By God’s grace, we’re gonna make it out of this just fine.
Grace and peace,
Photo by cocoparisienne, courtesy of Pixabay.