Don’t tell my teenagers I wrote this.
No, seriously…don’t tell them.
Have you ever seen an angry teenager?
Now multiply that times two. It could be really bad if they see this. I mean BAD.
I shudder to think of it.
I remember standing in an aisle at Target. I had a two week old and a two year old with me. My lady parts were still aching from the birth…I was still doing a bit of the straddle walk. My baby slept but only during the day so I hadn’t slept for more than an hour in weeks. My then husband had been out of town for weeks due to an unavoidable work crisis. And my two year old had just come down with “one of the worst cases I have ever seen” (doctor’s words) of something called Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Who knew there was such a disease. I could have gone my entire life without knowing. She had blisters all over the bottoms of her feet, the palms of her hands and hundreds more inside her mouth. The doctor advised just to keep the baby away from the two year old, to which I replied through my tears, “How the fuck am I supposed to do that…I’m all alone here, asshole.” He gave me the name of several therapists. Thank you, doctor.
Suffice it to say, it was not a good day. Not a good day at all.
I was at Target to gather supplies for my toddlers horrific disease. She couldn’t eat much of anything and at two she weighed about 25 pounds. She was a tiny little thing and couldn’t afford to lose weight. I was sweaty and my head was swimming with fantasies of dropping both kids off at the nearest fire station. (I have heard you can do that, it’s totally legal.)
So I am standing there with bleeding mouth and her little brother sleeps all day and parties all night, trying to remember what I came there for. I may have been a little on edge. It’s possible I came across as slightly grouchy. A woman, about twenty years older, was nearby and she eyed my two little demons with glistening eyes and told me that I should enjoy this time with them.
“It’s so short. Enjoy every little moment.”
I may have replied rather curtly, “it better be fucking short.” It’s possible I used the F word. I wasn’t at my best that day.
She looked at me, shocked and said…
“You think it’s hard now, just wait until they are both teenagers. That’s when it gets hard.”
And with that she stormed off. I fought the urge to chase her down and punch her in the face. It was difficult but I managed it. I left the store, went home, survived that blip in the parenting radar and moved through all the other ones that followed.
Fast forward to now. Mr. Sleeps all day, Parties all night is 13. He still isn’t a big sleeper. He loves soccer and video games and school and his friends. He is incredibly passionate about things. The testosterone that flows through that kid on a daily basis is record breaking. I mean, he has some powerful boy energy. Get three or four like him in your car after soccer practice and you better bring some ear plugs and a big can of febreeze. It’s worse than a carload of giggling teenage girls.
Speaking of girls, little miss HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE is 15. She’s all woman now. At least her body is. Her mind hasn’t really connected yet to the powerful appeal of her fully developed body. Short shorts are in and she is clueless as to what message that booty hanging out can send into the world. My friends and I have discussed this period in our daughter’s lives. Bodies that have developed more quickly than the minds that inhabit them. It’s a dangerous time.
And Target lady who made me so mad that I wanted to punch her in the face I totally get it now. I hate that I get it, but I do. Those days were physically exhausting. These days are mentally and emotionally exhausting.
I plan a fun outing but my teens don’t want to go. When a teen doesn’t want to do something…good luck having any fun at all doing it. Force them to go and it will be miserable. Leave them at home and you feel guilty.
A teenager’s energy fills a room. If it’s negative energy and it often is (hello, hormonal changes) the ability to not be affected by it is pretty much impossible. I am working toward thicker skin but it’s a process. A very long process.
When they are mad at you….omg…it’s a lot to overcome. I remember hating my mother…hating her…the sight of her…the smell of her…her nagging, annoying voice. Not all the time, but some of the time, a lot of the time…from about 14-18.
That’s me now. I am that annoying, nagging, stinky, high pitched voice, mom.
My brain knows that’s my job. But my heart, my heart, my heart….it’s missing my sick little hand, foot and mouth toddler who practically suffocated me with her need to be close to me during that illness. Or my little newborn boy who could nurse for HOURS and smiled and laughed at 3AM while I watched Oprah for the second time that day. Anything to avoid the disapproving eyes of my teenagers.
Daughter: “Can you drop us off at the mall?”
Daughter: “The mall. Please?” (insert sweet smile)
Me: “But I had planned…” (seeing smile, the one I miss, the one I long for…her voice that I haven’t heard in three days because talking to your mom is totally lame and she is too busy texting or checking to see how many likes she has on her last instagram photo) “yeah, sure”.
That’s my job. The nag, the driver, the tutor, the reminder, the annoying voice through the door.
I won’t even describe a conversation with my teenage son. Suffice it to say, he’s very intense. He enjoys challenging me…often. He gets under my skin like no one I have ever met. He is a lot like me. Full of fire and when that fire is directed at you, it’s tough not to get burned.
So yeah, teenagers suck.
But not all the time. Allow me to shift for a moment and say…
I love my teenagers. I do. I also like them, a lot of the time. I like watching them work through things in their minds. I like seeing them develop and discover and become. The are full humans now. Their energy is as big as an adults energy, perhaps even bigger. I can have real, deep conversations with them. They are beginning to understand the complexities of the world. We can discuss politics or gender stereotypes or sex. My daughter is learning to drive and that’s another source of anxiety and excitement. I can’t believe she will actually operate a motor vehicle and thank god she will because I can’t stand another year of spending three hours a day in a car driving them around. And my son is turning into a man, right before my very eyes and it is fascinating. He uses AXE body spray now. He enjoys chasing me around the house with a can of it, trying to spray me down. That little jokester.
SO don’t get the wrong idea from this anti-teenager rant. Generally, I think parenting is the hardest in whatever phase you are in and it’s also the most beautiful. I just happen to have two teenagers living in my house right now.
And it’s awful. And wonderful. And I hate it and I love it too.
That’s a pretty good description of parenting.
Lady at Target, I understand what you were saying and I get it. But I also think you were wrong. You were remembering things better than they actually were and we all do that. It’s always hardest when you are in it.
It’s easier to reflect and see the happy moments.
I look forward to reflecting on this house of teenager energy with rose colored glasses.
Besides, I still have a third child who wants to cuddle and tells me he loves me and will I play legos with him or swing him on the swing.