Ushering in the Teenage Years, While Managing All of the Mama Feelings

Like any mom who’s been in the game for a while, I’ve gained some street cred over the years. I know my way around crying babies and explosive diapers. I’ve navigated the terrible twos and the reign of a threenager, all while questioning if I’d ever sit down for a peaceful moment again. I’ve potty trained, transitioned to big kid beds, welcomed siblings, and seen my share of school days. And, while I hold no legitimate medical credentials, my accuracy for diagnosing strep throat, swimmer’s ear, and the need for stitches is shockingly impressive. 

But, I don’t feel like I’m #winning right now. 

I have a thirteen-year-old.

I vividly remember sitting in my daughter’s middle school open house before she started sixth grade. The counselors told us over the course of the next three years, our kids would change – A LOT. As hormones took over their sweet little bodies, they would pull away from us. Their friends would become a priority. They would have unpredictable mood swings, and most likely, become more disorganized and unfocused. They would develop a penchant for arguing and discounting any and all parental advice. They were going to change… and every bit of it was actually very normal. 

I recall thinking to myself: “I can’t even imagine this happening to my sweet girl.” 

For close to two full middle school years, it didn’t. Sure, I saw some tween glimmers of these developmental changes, but nothing like the picture the counselors described.

But, dang if thirteen didn’t roll around, and a switch flipped. 

Yes, my daughter is still my sweet girl, but she isn’t the same eleven-year-old who entered those middle school halls. She’s closer to high school, driving, and dating than she is to the elementary years I hold so dear. Most times, she does prefer to be with her friends over us, and she pushes back…often. I have to regularly remind her there is a world outside of herself, full of others who have their own set of feelings and needs.

Things have changed. And, goodness, do I struggle.

Sometimes I wonder why this has hit me so hard. Is it a “mom thing?” A mother-daughter thing? A me thing? I watch my husband manage these changes with much more ease than me. Sometimes he laughs off my daughter’s teenage “moments,” while other times choosing to deliver her a swift dose of tough love. But, this foreign version of our little girl never seems to settle in his heart quite like it does mine. He is quick to remind me we, too, were like this when we were her age. He’s right. But, it doesn’t make me feel any better. 

I can’t imagine anyone on this parenting adventure who wouldn’t agree it’s the most magnificent, yet challenging, ride a human being will ever take. I also understand no one can become a grown-up without taking a pit-stop into these pivotal years. With teenagehood comes a brain that matures in its own slow, sweet time. And, all the boundary-testing is actually setting the stage for the independence that our babies will need to “adult” well one day.

In my heart, I know my job as a mom is to guide, love, and…let go of the reigns a little bit…on this part of the journey. 

It’s just hard – and I know it only gets harder. 

My girl is still who she’s always been at her core. And, I recognize that my greatest joy in life may actually be waiting for me on the other side of this evolution. In the meantime, I will simply continue to do the best I know to do as her mom. I will pray, a lot. And, I’ll patiently watch her develop into the beautiful grown-up person she is destined to become.