I have just entered the rebirth of motherhood, “phase two,” if you will. Defying all elements of time, biology, and my own sensibilities, they sprouted from tots to teens in the literal blink of my eye. It was so quick, watching these little baby bombs explode onto our scene, consuming all our time, attention, and love.
Then, a myriad of experiences, moments, and tears made up a decade or so. Suddenly, I am eye to eye with a large human who resembles a kid I used to know. It is gut wrenching and wonderous, thrilling and sometimes nauseating; it is parenthood.
I have never been the type to give unsolicited advice on motherhood. I do not assume to have all the answers, and I am not the type to commune with other moms over our “job.” I have been known to accidentally keep the kids home from school on the wrong days, send both lunches in with just one kid, etcetera, etcetera. But, in the end, my husband and I have parented two human beings to the teen years, and that is something to be celebrated. We did it! I know there is more to come, thankfully. But getting to this point was not easy and so I have decided to share a few things I now know about life with teenagers.
Food-For any mom or dad wondering if your picky wee-one will ever eat anything beyond a chicken nugget, just wait. Once your kid becomes a teen, their voracious appetites make you think back to their birth when you had to feed them every two hours. Your teenager will assume this same feeding schedule, regularly invading the fridge and pantry and eating anything viable. Sure, they will leave things like flour and soy sauce, but if you really want to hang on to tomorrow’s lunch, you learn to store it in the veggie crisper.
Shelter-I remember when my boys were just toddlers and my dad said, “You won’t have anything nice in your house again.” I was offended at the time but now I see the merit in his statement. Two gangly boys engaged in brotherly brawls equals broken chairs and scuffed walls. I knock on my broken wood table that they have not physically harmed each other, at least as of the time of this publication.
Love-When they were small enough to scoop into your arms, you could multitask your care by kissing away the tears and hugging away the pain. As they transition into teens, they hide that vulnerability in favor of their new-found sassy attitudes. It is a fine line of knowing when to step in with advice or a hug and when to back slowly out of the lion’s lair. But all that time you spent staring lovingly into their eyes while holding them as infants will serve you well when they are teens. You will be able to decipher the glint that says, “I need to process this alone” or the glimmer that cries “I need you, mom.”
Well, that’s all I have for now. Since mine are just 13 and 14-year old boys, my parental knowledge bank is light. I hope to expand on this over the next couple of years and something tells me this will happen. If forced to give just one piece of advice to a new mom or dad, I would say this: There can never be too much hugging, smiling, or playing. Get down on the floor, get eye-to-eye and immerse yourself in this time you are in with your little ones. It is a fast ride to the teenage years, hold on.
Photos courtesy of Jodi Schwarzenbach and DepositPhotos.