A couple of weeks ago one of my dearest friends sent me a text asking me if I’d like to go on a walk. It was a rare sunny, warm-ish day here in Oregon and I couldn’t say YES fast enough! We met at the park and set off at a brisk pace. It didn’t take too long before our conversation, as it inevitably does, turned to the topic of our children and the current challenges we face in this particular season of motherhood.
After a few laps around the park we decided to sit down on a bench for a bit and just let the glorious rays of sunshine soak into our pasty white Oregon skin while we continued to chat. “When you are young and you picture yourself as a mother someday, it’s always with babies and toddlers, you know?” she said. “I know, right?!” I replied. “No one really talks a lot about this stage with tweens and teens. And there are some things I should have been warned about!” I added indignantly. We went on commiserating with each other before heading out to pick up from school the aforementioned tweens and teens.
As I sat in the pick-up line, I couldn’t help but think over the conversation. This is a weird season of life I’m finding myself in. I’m out of the ‘little’ kid phase and just entering the teenage kid phase and there are so many things that are taking me by surprise. So many things I wish someone would have told me I might experience.
So, I thought I would do all you mamas who are a little bit behind me a solid.
2o Things About This Stage of Motherhood That No One Warned Me About
- No one warned me that I would STILL be getting pimples when my teenager started to get pimples.
- No one warned me that I would look wistfully at the mom at Target shopping with her little ones and that she would look wistfully at me shopping without little ones.
- No one warned me that when the kids with the mom at Target start screaming I would walk away feeling really thankful I’m not in that stage anymore and smile smugly as I sip my latte in peace because I paid my dues people.
- No one warned me that older kids stay up later and want to hog the TV and totally cramp your style when all you want to do is hang out with your husband or do “other” things with your husband and you just want them to GO TO BED for Pete’s sake!
- No one warned me that it would feel just as satisfying to get a chuckle out of my teenager as it did to get one out of him when he was a baby.
- No one warned me that I wouldn’t be able to decide which is worse, going through adolescence myself or going through it with my kids.
- No one warned me that I would stare at my kids while they were sleeping and still see glimpses of them when they were babies.
- No one warned me that a roomful of middle school kids would smell so bad…so very, very bad.
- No one warned me that I would alternate between really loving having my kid sitting in the front seat of the car by me and wanting to lock him in the trunk because he thinks he knows how to drive better than me at the ripe old age of 13.
- No one warned me that my heart would sometimes actually physically hurt when I think about my kids not being little anymore.
- No one warned me that I would love talking with my teenager about life and faith and politics and cultural issues.
- No one warned me that I would be slightly traumatized the first time I had to buy underwear for my son in the men’s department. Pretty sure it was all of those packages with the pictures of…ahem…‘packages’ on the front that did it.
- No one warned me that I would walk past a playground and not miss spending time there one little bit. #paidmydues
- No one warned me that my kids and I might all be hormonal together but one of us has to suck it up and be the sane one because we can’t all be crazy at the same time. Guess who has to suck it up?
- No one warned me that it would be so bittersweet to see less and less of the amazing little kid they used to be and more and more of the amazing adult they are going to be.
- No one warned me that my teenager would actually dare to call MY music ‘oldies’ music. They are called classics, son!
- No one warned me that hearing how my daughter was mistreated by a friend would bring up all of my own insecurities and struggles with friendships.
- No one warned me that it would feel so strange to enter the decade where you know that you will be launching your kids into adulthood and also facing your own mid-life reality.
- No one warned me that I would feel so incredibly grateful that my husband and I didn’t neglect our relationship when the kids were really little because we are reaping the benefits of that now.
- No one warned me that as much as I miss my sweet babies, I wouldn’t trade this season of motherhood where I am watching them grow into these incredible human beings for anything in the world.
The other day I was talking to a mom who has very little kiddos about how each stage has it’s really great parts and it’s really hard parts. On the one hand, I’m very happy to be out of the stage where I would have to hold down their wiggly bodies to put pajamas on. And yet, on the other hand, I’m terrified about having a teenage driver in just a couple of years. But, this roller coaster ride of motherhood is one that I am so beyond privileged to get to be on and I wouldn’t trade a single second of it.
Except for the smells….yeah…I might trade the smells. 😉
love this….. especially #20.
Calypso in the Country says
Yeah, those smelly boys…I have two boys 13 and 10 and I can relate to so much of this! I still go in each night to make sure the lights are out. I kiss them on the cheek (because it’s the only time I can steal a kiss from my 13 year old these days!) and I stare at them for a moment. It really does go way too fast. I am painfully aware of that and try to cherish every single moment…even the stinky ones! Great post!
Oh I love your list…hold on because it gets better! In 7 short weeks our youngest is getting married! Our daughters are 13 and 10 years OLDER than our youngest, so the nest will truly be empty! Where oh where have all my babies gone! My husband and I are not sure how it’s going to be as we enter this phase of parenting. Enjoy those tweens and teens, time really does go by fast…
Well, I’m here to tell you…wait until they leave the first day to go off to college or university. We have twins and they both left the same day! My husband and I were both balling..lol…Yes..lots of stages, but “we” all learn something every single day, I think, and no matter what people tell you, it will never prepare you for the way you feel. I’ve always said, enjoy every moment of their growing up because once they get to high school, it’s amazing how fast those years go and then you’ll be just like us…waving goodbye to them as they drive off to college. And might I add, for us, one of them never ever came home and lived with us ever again after she got through university. They are both 28 now..our son is married and our daughter still lives 3 hours away from us.
feel your pain on not coming home. My son’s bride is from MN so we share what little visiting time they have with them. My youngest has five more years of grad school ahead of him. Fortunately they are both in Nebraska so when we make the drive it is easier.
Its hard to fit into their schedules because they are on opposite ends right now with their grad studies and the daughter in law is busy with residency work in medicine.
Never thought I could have so many tears.
Oh yes..and I forgot…once you have the “empty nest”, you and hubby will pick up right where you left off and you will find your identity again…😊
With six kids sometimes I really do feel like I could write “the book”. I’ve gone through so many of those seasons. Here is my solid for you…and then grand kids arrive.
Absolutely! So very well done! Sharing this one, friend! Praying you make it through those teen years…and then they become adults. No one prepared me that my heart would break leaving them at college. My husband has always said about our first son’s wedding…”and we are just supposed to give them away! You watch over them, provide, protect, guide and love them and then one day…you just give them away!” We were NOT prepared for that season!! Your life as parents is eternal. No one told us that. It never ends. Just moves into different stages. And each one has its difficulty and magic! Thankful when each difficult moment passes and sweet memories are made.
Your post brought tears to my eyes. I remember years ago Family Circle running an article about Stinky Socks.
It was a mom’s recall of missing the stinky sport socks.
Every season of motherhood is special. I too miss those early baby days and I had my family later in life at 38 and 41. They are now 23 and 27 and are independent and thriving on their own in grad school out of state.
I will say that season…tough. But what makes them happy makes me happy. Our oldest married an amazing woman last year and we love her like a daughter.
Someday the hope is that they are all back in Minnesota. For now, I savor our time together, miss them daily and sit in their bedrooms or reminisce with my hubby about their childhood.
Enjoy each season…it goes by very quickly.
One more thought…when our oldest got engaged I gave our future daughter in law a card from me. I told her how much we loved her and that when he was a baby I would hold him and wonder who he would fall in love with and who he would choose to share his life with. I told her how much he meant to me and shared how we struggled so in conceiving…but that I could not of hand picked a more amazing woman to give his heart to.
We are so blessed.
Rose L. says
What a lovely post, with a twist of a smile. I am 65 so it has been so long ago, but this could cheer and bring smiles to most mothers still going through the stages. You should submit it to Parents Magazine, or one of those, or Family Circle or Woman’s Day.
Michele (Finch Rest) says
Kathleen Grace says
Great post, now here’s what you can expect when they hit the late teens, early 20’s
1. You no longer know anything. Anything.
2. No matter how close you are to your kids they want and need to start on their own lives. This means they will be sassy, insulting, break rules and do things behind your back. Sometimes, I think the closer you are to your kids the MORE likely they are to do those things because it will be harder for them to separate their identity from you .
3. They will make really bad decisions, and you won’t be able to influence those decisions. In fact, the more you try the less influence you will have.
4. You will cry.
5. Somewhere around their mid 20’s you will start to look a little smarter to them.
6. Somewhere around their late 20’s they will once again start asking your advice and actually listening to it.
7. As they grow up and learn some things the hard way you will start to recognize your kids again and will build deeper, more loving bonds again. They WILL come out of it!
Have fun with those teens and tweens because some day you will wish you still had them under your roof. So bad. 🙂
Michele (Finch Rest) says
Ahhhh…..well done, very, very well written.
You totally hit the nail on the head with this list! I loved reading it. (My boys are 15 and 17.)
My ‘boys’ are now 55 and 49. No one even talks about what that feels like.
I remember those years like it was yesterday… but the best is yet to come! My daughters are 34 and 38. My relationship with each is incredible as well as their’s with each other and ours as a threesome! And then there’s the added bonus of son-in-laws and grandchildren. It only gets better, you’ll see.
Oh wow. I also remember those days. The last fifteen and a half years have sped by. It –time– does that and now I’m a Grandma twice and soon again. My two are independent thinkers. But not hostile to me. I long for more family gatherings like my friends do with their kids but I realize that just isn’t how my family dynamics is. Please accept how your life is however it is! I enjoyed being the summer hangout house for Christian college kids which meant kids here til 4 AM. Such joy. And seeing my daughter fall in love ❤️. Fun. But careers take up their time and I’m glad they are both happily married. They don’t really need me! It is a good thing. God directs our paths. I’ve finally started to accept how life is. And it’s okay to let them live their own lives now too!! And yes, it is best to remember it is not your life all over again. It is their unique life and oh it’s a ride! You may still drive the car but you’re their passenger to their tween and teen lives. They are learning to fly solo!!
Shirley@Housepitality Designs says
No one warned me that time goes by so quickly…before I knew it my son was off to college, got married, had a beautiful little girl….now that little girl is almost a pre-teen…not playing with her My Little Ponies or Lala Loopsies anymore….no one warned me not to wish for my child to hurry and get out of diapers…to hurry and be able to drive his own car to ball practices…sometimes I wish I had those days back….of pushing that grocery cart with my son reaching out for that sugary cereal…or my granddaughter cuddling up on the sofa with me saying that “you make my heart happy” …. But no one warned me that my life now is filled with beautiful moments with my hubby…just he and I snuggled on the sofa and he saying “you make my heart happy” …. Love this post Vanessa!!!
Very well said! Each stage of motherhood definitely has great and not so great parts! I still have two (now young men – 21 and 24) living with me! Yikes!!! I never in a million years thought of that happening when they were babies – I got married at age 20! But, I love having them around! Praying for them to meet the girls God has for them (soon) ha, ha!!!
No one (maybe everyone) warned me about 13 year old girls! Can I get an AMEN?! So sassy! I wasn’t like that at all when I was 13 😉
My daughter talks about the smells of middle school students all the time as she is a teacher! I must admit that I enjoyed every phase of my daughters and grew with them. However, the adult period is the hardest! You need to be a friend, mom, grandmother and mentor, but YOU are still the Mother in your heart. It never gets any easier, only harder, in my opinion!