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What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Teenager

When I was expecting my babies, I never got too attached to books telling me what I was getting myself into.

I appreciated some of their practical advice, but they lost me with warnings like, “You may crave sweets, but be sure to limit your splurges to a scoop of frozen yogurt once or twice throughout your pregnancy.” It made me want to run straight for the cookies-and-cream, and yes I would like hot fudge sauce and whipped cream and a cherry, thanks very much.

All of which is just a round-about way of saying that I’m not going to try to tell anyone what life will definitively be like when their baby turns into a teenager. Consider this instead a guide to what it could be like. Unless it’s like something else.

Either way, you might want to stock up on ice cream.

What to Expect as a Parent of a Teenager

  1. You can expect to be amazed, frustrated, thrilled, bewildered, delighted, and infuriated by your teen, often all within the same 24 hours.
  2. Your teen may be happy, sad, moody, agreeable, relaxed, and edgy, often all within the same 24 hours (possibly all before 9 a.m.).
  3. You can expect the unexpected.
  4. You will love your teen even when you don’t particularly like her.
  5. And your teen will love you, even when he doesn’t particularly like you.
  6. Expect to blame a lot on the hormones.
  7. You will need patience like you’ve never needed it before.
  8. Expect to have a lot of conversations via text.
  9. When you are the parent of a teen, you can expect to start keeping track of every activity your teen does that in any way shows leadership or initiative or community service, in case it might someday turn into a college scholarship.
  10. You can expect to want to hold on.
  11. And expect that you will have to let go.
  12. You can expect to never have any cash on hand.
  13. You will wonder what version of your teen is going to show up on any given morning.
  14. Expect to choose your words carefully.
  15. You will think that your teen is one of the most amazing people you know.
  16. Parenting a teen means scrolling right past social media posts about college visits and graduation party ideas because you don’t have to worry about those until later…only to realize that “later” is now.
  17. Expect to be inspired.
  18. And then stretched.
  19. When your baby becomes a teen, you can expect to always be running out of groceries.
  20. You will wonder if and how you’re going to make it through.
  21. You can expect to want to slow time down.
  22. Expect to cheer.
  23. And to cry.
  24. When you’re parenting a teenager, expect to listen.
  25. Expect to think that having a teenage driver is expensive and terrifying but that if you have a good one, it’s also pretty much the best thing no one ever talks about.
  26. Anticipate that you didn’t expect to feel this tired at this stage of the game.
  27. When you’re the parent of a teen, you can expect to be bursting with pride.
  28. You can expect to look back on the years when your son or daughter was little with nostalgia and longing.
  29. You can expect to be excited about the future.
  30. And know you will spend a lot of time waiting.
  31. You will feel your entire life has become an acronym: SSN, SAT, GPA, FAFSA (SOS.).
  32. Expect to worry.
  33. And although you are a parent to a teen, you will still feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
  34. You can expect to think that no one talks about how hard this is.
  35. Or that no one talks about how amazing this is.
  36. You can expect to redefine “special occasion” as any night when everyone in the family is eating dinner together at the same time in the same place.
  37. You can expect to always be checking off a list.
  38. You can expect to finally give up on the idea that you’ll ever be caught up on the laundry (or, really, anything else).
  39. Know that you will love your teen’s true friends like they’re your own kids.
  40. But you will always be paying for something.
  41. You can expect to look at your teenager and still see the toddler she was ten minutes and a lifetime ago.
  42.  You can expect to automatically answer “busy” when someone asks how you are. Which will be a little cliché but also true.
  43. You can expect to have your heart broken and built up.
  44. And you can expect to be hit over and over again by a love so fierce, you never could have expected it.

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

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