Parenting teens is hard. So f*cking hard.
But it’s also delightful.
Sometimes I’m so deep in the hard times that I forget about the soft moments.
That buried under the knee-deep clothes on the floor, the defiance, the backtalk and ‘the face’ (parents of teens will know ‘the face’), is a savviness and know-how that is exclusively teen and completely covetable. There’s joy there, and pride, and all the good stuff that makes up a brand new person, emerging into the world to say ‘look at me, I made it, I’m here’.
Rough around the edges, sure, but still whole. Remarkably, beautifully, perfectly whole.
When they’re delightful, there is nothing more delightful. More joyful, more critical, more energetic, more carefree, more insecure, more hopeful, more daring, more enthusiastic, more wicked. Youth isn’t wasted on the young at all.
So, this year I vow to be a better mum. To look for the delight behind ‘the face’. To know that my boundaries are being pushed to ensure they are sturdy.
I vow to be the safe place where they can let out all the frustrating, anxious, angry, tortured emptiness that this existence can bring.
I’ll listen more and lecture less.
And sit beside instead of stand over.
I’m going to show up more and speak up less. Prove by my actions that I’m worth listening to. That I’m worthy of their attention and their pride.
This year, I vow to be a better mum. To hold my children’s fragility with gentle, careful hands. I will check on the vulnerability hidden behind the sneer and listen closer for worries that mumble quietly under words.
I won’t dismiss or know better. I won’t try to jam my opinions inside, as if my children are an empty vessel waiting to be filled with my endless opinions and values and expectations.
Instead, I will cherish what is already inside.
I’m going to ask more questions. What do they think about religion, money, politics, society, the path of the sun, the feather of a bird, the murmur inside?
Where do we go when we die?
And where do they go when they feel like they might?
This year, I vow to be a better mum. I’m going to remind my children, every day, that they matter more than matter. That there’s nothing quite like them and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
I’m going to hold them up like the prize that they are. Glistening from within, even when times are dark.
I’m going to ask if maybe, just maybe, I could share a little of that light, too.
Feature image by Rhys Kentish