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Mendo Lake Family Life

Teens Wear Me Out!

By Katy M. Clark

How I recall those sleepless nights when my kids were newborns. Those nights morphed into long days carrying chunky toddlers, then chasing precocious preschoolers. Yup, parenting little ones wore me out.

Things settled down a bit when my kids entered elementary school. Still, they kept me moving with endless birthday parties and after-school activities.

So it was with great anticipation that I envisioned a rest as they reached their teen years. They were more independent and less helpless after all. Welp, I was wrong! There are countless ways that nurturing my teens into adults is physically and mentally exhausting. Here are just a few.

Have Teens, Will Schlep I take way more than 10,000 steps a day mothering teens. Just a trip to the store pushing a cart loaded with groceries that my teenage son will consume in a matter of days piles up on the pedometer. Then there’s lugging snacks, water, chairs, blankets, and even costumes to their events, on the court and stage. Pacing the sidelines, jumping up and down when something good happens, or standing and clapping during an ovation surely burns as many calories as cheering. It wears out not only my voice, but also my heart, which bursts with pride over whatever amazing thing my teens just did.

Can Someone Carry This? They say your home should be your sanctuary, but as the mother of teens, sometimes it feels more like an exercise class. I’ll stand and bend dozens of times in as many minutes picking up the cups, plates, and silverware left on their desks or bedroom floors, or scooping up that wad of clothes that hasn’t moved from the corner of their room in a week.

I might leave the new pack of toilet paper or other item on the landing hoping against hope that my teens will take it up the stairs, only to find myself carrying it. Then I’ll put the mountains of groceries away as I ready myself to prepare meals and wipe down the kitchen, day in and day out. Sure, I appreciate the times my teens pitch in, but mostly I’m the captain of this ship we call home, hustling to keep my kids fed, clothed, and alive. Phew!

You Want to Drive?! I practically live in my car. There are long drives to tournaments, concerts, or to or from college as well as early morning rides to workouts and late nights sitting in a dark car waiting for events to finish.

And let’s talk about how exhausting it can be teaching them how to drive. My hand hurts from clutching the passenger door, and my right foot and calf are tired from pushing the non-existent brake pedal.

Then there is the worrying. Will they be safe? What about the drivers around them? How about when they ride with their friends? I have a permanent crease wedged on my forehead as the parent of teens. Forget sleep, too, as I lie awake in bed listening for them to pull into the driveway.

Excuse Me While My Mind Combusts Raising teens is mentally exhausting for sure. There are so many concerns: Do they have friends? Like their classes? Why aren’t they talking more? 

Then there are emails from their schools to digest, not to mention apps for their activities and portals for their healthcare.

As if that weren’t enough, there are the many requests—for the trendiest shoes or phones or whatever—to deal with. My teens are smarter, savvier, and more persistent at begging than when they were little. Sometimes I feel like I’m a lawyer arguing for the defense!

It’s Worth It Of course, while parenting teens wears me the heck out, it produces a good kind of tired, too. I might not have the energy to leave the house, but I feel content knowing I’ve loved and cared for my teens. And I might not want to get up off the couch at the end of the day, but I still buzz with happiness when my kids are under my roof, at college, or in the real world. Yup, parenting teens wears me out but loving them makes it all worth it. 

Katy M. Clark is a writer and mom of two who embraces her imperfections on her blog Experienced Bad Mom.