Ten Things I Never Expected About Raising a Teenager
There have been signs that this day was coming. But there was never one defining day that my daughter left and a full fledged teenager alien being arrived. Although the crossover would have been worthy of a UFO landing on the top of my roof. I really just wish that would have happened.
Alas, I sit, here in my kitchen, and wonder aloud (maybe the alien parents are listening), just what did I expect would happen? Why didn’t you people warn me? Oh it doesn’t count that you shook your head once and said, “Just you wait..“ while chuckling maniacally. For those with middle schoolers, and even smaller tots, you have been warned. This is what to expect that you really never expected.
Your kid that climbs on you, idolizes you, shines their bright eyes on you.. that kid will vanish. The middle schooler that holds your hand, watches movies with you, and tells you most everything… that kid will vanish. I’m not trying to scare you, because they reappear at the most unexpected times. Their little hearts are still so good, but life will come at them hard and fast—and that affects them. Their instinct will be to withdraw, no matter what you do, no matter how close you were. It’s painful.
I never expected to drive this much. Ever. You ask why I drive so much? Because I’m not ready to not know what she is doing. I will drive to school. I will pick up from school. I will drive to practice and I will pick up from practice. I will drive to the dances, and tournaments, and coffee dates, and downtown shopping, sleepovers and parties, especially the parties. I just drive all day, really.
I feel this heavier sense of expectation, this waiting for the real story, the real homework, the real reason she’s happy or sad. I never know when or how my daughter will choose to communicate with me about anything. So I wait.
An unexpected gift is when my daughter gets in the car, her heart is bursting with a giddy glee and I get to re-live the way I felt when I was fourteen and Nate Staples (a sophomore) would say something to me by the lockers and look at me with his devilish smile. I tell her, Charlie, the best feeling in the world is this moment. Don’t forget it.
I never expected that my daughter would be so astute about things she never talks about. She is so observant and so mature in her assessments of others already. Just because your teenager doesn’t talk very much doesn't mean they aren’t watching, listening and making their own determinations.
I never expected the girls she grew up with to change either. They are all going different directions and making different choices. I’ll leave it at that. No judgement. I love her friends old and new, just watching them grow into mini-adults so rapidly is a shock I wasn’t prepared for. Almost double the shock.
I didn’t know that I was so completely maddening. Most everything I say to her is wrong, as well as everything I do, and even if I glance in her direction it is an affront to her dignity. I am fairly lost without a guide that the alien parents forgot to leave me.
There are moments that my fifteen year old daughter will occasionally snuggle, hold hands and even sympathize with her momma. Because after all is said and done, she is my baby, she is my daughter she is my love. And I love it when she feels free.
I never expected my marriage to change. Well, maybe I did. In the quietest way my marriage has changed because here we are after all of these years. We have laughed, cried, traveled, fought, and loved each other through it all. Now, my heart bursts when I see my husband cheer her on during this time of her life. My heart bursts seeing my husband with her having their private conversations, often allies against me. I don’t mind, in fact, it’s more quiet time for me.
I didn’t expect time to go by so quickly. I did everything to slow it down and cherish it all. Trust me I didn’t miss a thing, but that doesn’t matter right now. What matters right now is this moment, and her mood when she walks in the door.