The Hardest Years

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I have been saying this mantra over and over, every time my teenage boy/man exasperates me:

“These are the most difficult years of his life”. He is 15.75 years old, and it is the most selfish, most exasperating frustrating years. He is a freshman in high school, the bottom of the totem pole, the pimples are too many, the girls are too few, AND the teachers are “mean”.

“These are the most difficult years of his life”. Finally today, my friend Julie came up with the most awesome response to that: “Yeah, and they will make sure to make them the most difficult years of your life too!” Hahahahahahahaha. I fell out of my chair laughing. It is so true! I got sore nipples breastfeeding, it hurt sooo much. And potty training was the shits (pun intended)- I got so sick of cleaning up accidents, getting poop under my fingernails, and finding pee-smelly clothes hidden in clean clothes. Starting kindergarten, and well, every first day of school I cry and cry (still) over my babies growing up and my need to let them go. But this stage, this sarcastic, I-hate-you-and-you-never-do-anything-for-me-ever-can-I-have-some-money-I-love-you” stage is the most difficult so far. And I have awesome kids!!!

You might think I am complaining about my kids, I am actually complaining about me. This is a difficult stage, and these are hard years. I need a walrus coat, and courage and strength and fearlessness. I ask for it every morning, and usually it shows up.

My friend Liz suggests we shut the door to their rooms if they are too messy, because “that is not the hill we are going to die on”. That off-the-cuff remark is still re-playing, helping me to choose just which hill would I die on? Leaving dirty dishes on the living room floor? C’s in math and english? Eye rolling? Muttering as he walks away? Sneaking beers? Smoking pot? Sexting? Everyone chooses. Everyone chooses their own boundaries with teens, and sometimes the eye rolling is just as bad to me as sexting would be.

The point of this post is to let you know that you aren’t alone on this rollercoaster of raising teenagers as a single parent. It feels like a FunHouse, but it ain’t fun!! There will be hard days, and there may not be many easy days between them. Luckily there are endearing moments, such as when my son says “I love you Mom” before he walks out the door to ride his bike to school, and when she gives me a sweet smile and tilts her head sideways from across the track field (when she sees I brought food, water and her favorite warm sweatpants to the track meet). So I won’t strangle them tonight after all.

3 comments

  1. hi, i love the “walrus coat!” having parented 3 teens, i hear ya.
    and, hey, thanks for visiting plucky umbrella
    and
    nice to meet you, Mary
    oh, and i never made my teens clean their rooms – just closed those doors…

  2. hahahaha, “Relax”. I can’t wait!

    I want to add an addendum to my post. I went to a parenting lecture last night given by Michael Vladeck (youtube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sKDob2lSzo). He raised quite a few wonderful concepts:
    -Our children are our best medicine. They present to us exactly what we need to learn about and deal with within ourselves.
    -We can be better parents by having emotional transparency with our children.
    -We may not ever have been told we are enough and unconditionally loved by our parents, but that is a crucial concept to get across to them. They are perfect just as they are.

  3. Sometimes I hope that these “most difficult years” won’t be, that the most difficult years will be when my girls have their OWN teens, with all the eye-rolling, attitude, and new-fangled problems that will exist then. THEN perhaps I can relax… 🙂

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