So your kids have reached the so called “magical age”? The easy stage of parenting you’ve been waiting for?? They’re teens and tweens and can all dress themselves, feed themselves, bathe independently, and buckle in and out of the car (hallelujah!).
You are free! Right? Maybe not.
As a mom of five, ranging in ages from 3 to 17, I am not one of those moms that forgets the exhausting days of toddler tantrums and toilet training. I am still right there with you. But I am also the mom of a 17 year old who will be graduating and heading to college in a year.
I’m not going to lecture you on making sure you soak up every little moment of your kids being little. I’m also not going to tell you that you will miss those crazy days (even though you will), but I am going to tell you that unfortunately it does not, in some ways, get easier. While your days of midnight feedings and wiping butts may be over, you have other challenges ahead.
Here is why parenting tweens and teens is not really an easier stage
- You no longer worry about your baby sleeping through the night.
Now, you lay awake at night, worrying about what you did right and wrong all those early parenting years.
- Thought you might take on a career when your children got a little older?
Now, regardless of what you wanted to be when you grew up, you now know that you were destined to be a taxi driver for your teens and tweens. I know you guys probably hear this a lot, but I AM NOT KIDDING. You drive, and drive, and drive some more.
- You are no longer the milkmaid (your body is yours again!).
Now, you spend approximately 90% of your life buying groceries, cooking, and watching all the food disappear . . . just to do it all over again.
- No more annoying electronic kids toys making noise around the house?
Now, your teens and tweens all have phones, laptops, ipads, etc. and you spend A LOT of time making sure you are keeping your kids safe online.
- No more endless buckling kids in and out of car seats.
Now, your teens are driving and you panic every time your phone rings from one of them, as you expect the inevitable accident.
- You may not be as physically exhausted as when your kiddos were babies and toddlers.
Now, you’re all in the midst of the emotional exhaustion – yours and theirs.
- When they were little, you worried. A lot. Thankfully you were there to guide them and they (mostly) listened.
Now, you worry. A lot. And you’re not always there to guide them (because they’re out there in the world). With teens, so many of their bad choices can have a life altering affect on them. Drinking and driving. Sexting. Pregnancy. Don’t get me started. You just hope they listened.
- You used to spend your days listening to your toddler talking NON-STOP.
Now, it is your turn to talk a lot. With teens you have to talk every chance you get. Talk about all the important stuff and then talk about it some more. By this point in their life, you have poured your advice into them and hope the decisions they are making reflect all that you have taught them.
- When they were little, the mistakes were little, and the consequences usually were too.
Now, many of their mistakes they make at this age are ones you just have to let them live and learn from. You can’t save them from it all.
- You used to be able to hug and kiss the hurts away.
Now, you see them hurting and you can’t just kiss and hug the hurt away. Teens are emotional and being a teen is hard but I never realized how painful it was for parents to watch their teens go through all that hard stuff.
- Toddler tantrums caused by the inability to communicate their needs are over.
Now, you are left to interpret eye rolls and shoulder shrugs as your teen’s primary form of communication.
- Remember the tears sending them off to kindergarten?
Now, you’re thinking about sending them away to college. I still have a year to go and already I am a mess.
- You used to be excited about all the independence that came with each new stage,
Now, you know that the independence means eventually they are going to leave. Dr. Laura once said “To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you means you have done your job.”
- You no longer have to wonder what in the world you are doing and if you really suck at this parenting thing.
Now, you have growing and maturing humans going out into the world. You’ll find yourself in awe, wondering how they are turning out to be such wonderful people, in spite everything you did or didn’t do just right.. (Okay this parenting gig has it’s upsides too).
I used to think that parenting littles was the hardest stage, longing for the future easy stage of parenting to come.
Now, as a parent of teens and tweens, I know that none of this gets easy, it just changes.