I am in a difficult stage as the parent of an adult teen. My son turned 18 this spring and then graduated from high school. He thinks he is now an adult. March 24th he was a kid and on the 25th, he became an independent adult capable of doing whatever he wishes, whenever he wishes, not having to consult a parent (of course this is his perception, not mine). If only his attitude, behaviors, and work ethic matched his now-adult status, I may be in a different state of mind. But for now, my sweet boy has turned sour–unkind, sarcastic, evasive, and, at times, disrespectful. He is hard to like most of the time. I am the worst mom in the world. Anyone else vying for this title? I am hopeful that under my son’s harsh and mouthy exterior, he is still a good kid trying to find his way.
The number of tears falling from my eyes and my alcohol consumption has increased dramatically over the past several months (NO judgment people–I am already judging and regulating myself) and my sleep has decreased greatly. The lack of sleep I have during this stage is just behind the having an infant stage, but now it isn’t just physical exhaustion, but mental and emotional exhaustion and anguish like no other time in my life. I recently reached out to my mom friends that have already had their kid “adults” fly from the nest to see if my kid is the only jerk at this stage. Nope. Apparently not.
Nobody talks about how incredibly hard this stage is. SO. INCREDIBLY. HARD!! It makes me question my parenting over all the years and consider all the ways I have failed. I do remember having a conversation with my cousin a few years ago. Before the past couple of months, this was the only conversation I have had on this topic. I remember telling her how sad I was to think about my little boy leaving the nest. I could not imagine him going away. She swore to me that God prepares us for them leaving by the teen pushing our buttons making us want them to leave. She had already had two adult children by this point so she had first-hand experience in the matter. Even so, I didn’t believe her. No, no! Not my sweet little guy! He won’t ever be like that! He is so sweet, snuggly, and loving and I won’t ever be ready for him to leave. Fast forward to today and I am ready to kick him out of the nest with both of my feet and tell him to get on his way. 39 days until he moves to college, but who’s counting?!
But why don’t people talk more about how extremely difficult this stage is? My poor friends, and even my hairdresser, have had to see my tears and hear my concerns and complaints. Once I started asking, I learned that most kids are complete jerks at this point. Good to know, but that doesn’t make this any easier. My anxiety and worry are through the roof! It is hard not to be angry at him much of the time for his attitude and behaviors. He still needs some rules, whether he likes it or not (but apparently I am the ONLY parent with rules for an 18 year old). I get snippy, emotional, and yell which does not help AT ALL. I know this but I can’t seem to help myself sometimes when he is pushing every button.
I have been told by my friends that my son is still a good kid under the bad attitude and defiance. He is just trying to find what it looks like and how it feels to be an adult. I don’t like it. Not one little bit.
I guess it is good that people don’t spew on social media about the difficulties they have with their teen adults, but I have not heard this topic discussed on talk shows or in magazine articles or anywhere, for that matter. I hope that we are using our friends and support system when we are trying to make it through this complicated, trying time.
So let’s have this conversation. Let’s support one another during this hard time. Our stories connect us to each other. Not only have my friends encouraged me and reminded me that this is God preparing my heart for this change, but that my sweet boy will come back around and love me again (but it may be a while). For now, I am supported by my friends, Kleenex, pinot noir, and prayer. Friends, don’t be afraid to talk about the hard and connect with those you trust while going through crappy periods because those conversations and those connections will give us a sense of belonging and understanding. To feel understood is vital to moving us from heartache to hope. Dr. Bruce Perry in What Happened to You? states, “Your connectedness to other people is so key to buffering any current stressor.”
This stage does stink. It is hard on a mama’s heart and on sleep patterns. Ladies, use your community! Lean into your friends to help you get through hard times, such as “parenting” your newly adult child. I know I certainly need my friends right now. Thanks, friends! Love you all!