Why Parenting Teenagers Wears Me The Heck Out

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.

As my kids grew, things settled down a bit when they entered elementary school. Still, they kept me moving with endless birthday parties and after-school activities like scouts and art class. I even recall a six month stint playing goalie in front of our backyard soccer net as they practiced their skills.

So it was with great anticipation that I envisioned a rest when 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 exhausts me, physically and mentally. Here are all the ways that parenting a teen wears a parent out:

They keep me moving

I take way more than ten thousand steps a day as the mother of teens. There are the steps I take behind a cart loading it with more (and heavier) groceries that my teenage son consumes in just a few days. And all the walking I do behind my teens as they cruise the stores at the mall.

I’m always burning calories trotting to their events, too, whether it’s a concert in the school auditorium or claiming a seat at a game. Not to mention lugging snacks, water or costumes as well as a chair or blanket, depending on the activity and the weather.

Then I pace the sidelines, jump up and down when something good happens, or stand and clap during an ovation. I wear out my voice cheering, not to mention my heart as it bursts with pride over whatever amazing thing my teens did just on the court or stage.

Around the house

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. I scoop up that wad of clothes that hasn’t moved from the corner of their room in a week.

I’m the one taking items, like the new pack of toilet paper, up the stairs that I’d left on the landing, hoping against hope that my teens would do it first. Plus, there’s putting the mountains of groceries away, cooking the plethora of groceries for meals, and wiping 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 them fed, clothed and alive. Phew!

Driving me crazy

There are long drives to tournaments, concerts or taking them to or from college. Early morning rides to workouts and late nights sitting in a dark car waiting for your teen to finish social events after which you can finally take them — and yourself! — home to bed.

Photo from Unsplash.

And let’s talk about how exhausting it can be teaching them how to drive. My hand hurts from clutching the passenger door and I think I’ve worn out my jaw from all the clenching. My right foot and calf muscle are tired from pushing the non-existent brake pedal from where I sit on the passenger side while my teen practices driving.

Then there is the worrying that driving produces. Will my teens 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 pull into the driveway.

Mental workout

Raising teens is mentally exhausting for sure. There are so many emails from their schools to digest, not to mention apps for their activities and portals for their healthcare.

And their requests, too, like for the trendiest shoes or phones. Not only do they want things, but my teens are smarter, savvier and more persistent about begging me than when they were little. Sometimes I feel like I’m a lawyer arguing for the defense!

Then there’s the mental load that comes from loving your teen and wanting what’s best for them every day. Do they have friends? Like their classes? Why aren’t they talking more? Oh, wait, maybe that’s because they are tired, too.

The best kind of tired

Of course, while parenting teens wears the heck out of us, it produces a good kind of tiredness, 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 knowing all the care I’ve poured into them. Yup, parenting teens wear us 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.

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