"Am I doing a good enough job?"
"Are my kids going to be okay?"
"Will I ever feel close to my kid again?"
Every mom of teenagers asks questions like these at one time or another. I know I did. Often, it's after a *discussion* of household rules, or social media use, or whether or not a movie is suitable for their age. Yes, I know you're mature for your age, but you're not seeing an R-rated movie. Ever. Come back here when I'm talking to you.
Even though you can remember how it felt to be a teenager, and you knew it would be a challenge to have teens of your own, nothing could really prepare you for the emotional drainage and self-doubt that sometimes hits you like a freight train.
"Am I too strict?"
"Am I too permissive?"
"Should we move our family to a remote island, one without internet access?"
All the books you read when your kids were wee mites don't seem to help much now. The issues are harder, deeper, and more complicated than you expected. You have so little control, and you feel your babies slipping away from you as they become more independent, and less connected to you. That old saying about apron strings coming loose darts through your mind.
Oh, those teens. They roll their eyes. Sigh a lot. Exasperate you with their logic. Push you to your limits.
And then, in a split second, they make you laugh with their antics. Your son delights you with a kind gesture. Your daughter invites you to help her pick out an outfit. You grab a burger together. You share an inside joke. They show you just how terrific they're turning out. And you are in awe.
It's that up-and-down emotional roller coaster that makes you question yourself.
"Did I say the right thing?"
"Will we ever get through this?"
Yes. You will.
You will get through this.
Because the roller coaster ride of parenting teenagers is supposed to be this way. You grip the safety rail for dear life, and feel your heart jump into in your throat, and you wonder how anyone ever convinced you to take this motherhood journey.
But hang on. Because, even though you might not believe it, you're doing a great job.
You really are!
Look. All of this is normal. You're supposed to give rules. And teens are supposed to chafe at them. You're supposed to wrap your arms around them, and they're supposed to shrug you away. You're supposed to check their phones for inappropriate texts. They are supposed to tell you that you should trust them. You're supposed to try and find things to talk about. They are supposed to think you don't know what you're talking about.
Just because there are conflicts and rocky moments, doesn't mean you're failing.
In fact, it means exactly the opposite.
It simply means your teens are trying to find their way. They are trying to separate themselves from you enough so that they can figure out what they think and believe. They already know what you think and believe.
It means that it might be time for you to give them space to become who they are going to be...and to not be so hard on yourself. This is part of their preparation for life.
I know you're doing a great job, because I can see it in the way you question yourself.
I can see it in the way you are willing to talk things out. The way you listen to your kid's heart, not just the words he is saying. I see it in how you lay awake in your bed and wonder if you blew it. I see it in the way you ask others for advice. I see it in the way you get up the next day and do it all over again.
Because there is something greater than self-doubt, and greater than all the mess-ups you make, as you navigate the teen years.
And that is: LOVE.
Love overcomes all the times you said the wrong thing. It overcomes the moments you didn't keep your cool. It overcomes the hurt when your kid shrugs off your affection, and it hangs in there when you feel like running away. It overcomes the fear and the anxiety and the weariness in the job you're doing.
Your love makes you keep going. It makes you apologize. It helps you make rules. It helps you bend rules when you see they need bending. It makes you forgive when your kids messes up. After all, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and your kid will mess up. Love makes you compassionate.
And love makes you strong.
You're doing a great job because your kid knows he is loved. Your son knows he can always count on you to be there. Your daughter knows you have her back. They know that no matter what happens, their mom–you–are always on their side.
You are giving them a gift that so many kids can only dream of: knowing, truly knowing, that they are loved.
This, more than doing everything perfectly, is the best thing you can do for them.
That's how I know: Mom, you're doing a great job.
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