How my Teen Years Prepared Me for Parenting


Remember those angry, awkward, zit filled years? The ones you couldn’t wait to put behind you? Once I became I mother I realized that those teen years never really go away. I am older, wiser, perhaps more responsible (HA! Who am I kidding?) but that is about it. There is not a whole lot that has changed since I blossomed into a lady child in the 90s.

You will not recognize your body.

Do you remember those awkward teenage years when it seemed your nerve endings could not keep up with the rate of growth of your limbs? I was one gawky baby-giraffe as a teen. I was constantly falling down, tripping, slipping, stubbing my toes, burning my hands. Then you grow boobs, get all zit covered, start harbouring an ass, your hair gets greasy and you start excreting weird things out of weird places. It is scary and humiliating. You silently weep into your pillow every night “WHY! WHHHHHYYYYYY!!!!!!” Right around the time you finally get tabs on this runaway train known as your body it begins the transformation again. You are thrilled to experience the miracle of carrying another life (or two…maybe three if you are really lucky!) in your belly and suddenly you are sweaty, greasy, bulging in new places, your boobs begin to sprout again and hurt like a hot damn, you have horrible purple lines riproaring across the terrain of your skin, huge zits, black whiskers, cankles, ‘roids, you burp/fart/wheeze like a geriatric aerobics class, you can’t control the most basic of bodily functions. Again you scream silently into your pillow at night “WHHHHHHHYYYY!!!!” Then the kid pops out and its a whole new ball game of sag, how to creatively roll your muffin top up into your bra so it looks like you may still have boobs after the sweet living shit has been suckled out of them. The only thing more impressive than your saggy stretch marks is the massive bags under your eyes (handy for toting car keys and an extra diaper). And if you ever forget any of this for a moment your offspring will be there to remind you that you are a hot mess when they prod your doughy gut and ask “What’s THAT?” with a look of sheer disgust.

"This pregnancy has really transformed me!"

“This pregnancy has really transformed me!”

Nobody will listen to you. And you will feel that they are all jerks.

When I was 16 I had life cased. Figured out. Down to a science. Perfected. I had an answer for everything. A precise method by which to do anything and everything with exacting, superior precision. Unfortunately for everyone else, mind you, they were all blithering idiots. Despite my best attempts those jerks I lived with would just not listen and do things my way.

Fast forward 15 years and not much has changed aside from the fact that the jerks are much smaller and younger now, and pay me even less mind than the jerks I lived with in the 90s.

Aside: I love these jerks, every last one of them. Don’t get me wrong.

"Why won't you all just do what I want!?"

“Why won’t you all just do what I want!?”

Your will ride one crazy mo-fo roller coaster of emotions.

When I was 15 years old it wasn’t uncommon for me to go from screaming giddily with glee to wracking sobs to seething rage over the course of dinner.

This has not changed.

You won’t ingest anything fit for human consumption.

As a teen I lived on fast food, slurpees, Coke and chocolate bars. Exclusively.

As a mother I live on sandwich crusts, soggy cheese puffs, baby carrots that someone has quadruple dipped and licked off numerous times, cheese strings and the occasional stolen cup of forbidden (mind-numbingly-beautiful) coffee.

The human body truly is a marvel of medical science. Can you imagine what I could accomplish if I actually fueled this beast with actual nutrition?

You will make questionable choices.

As a teen I was constantly making rash, impulsive life-altering decisions. Then second guessing myself followed by sobbing uncontrollably.

As a mother I am constantly making rash, impulsive decisions that may alter my little darlings lives forever. Then second guessing myself, feeling guilty about it and berating myself for being a substandard mother.

Repeat ad nauseum.

Feel free to make questionable choices. Just be sure they are not permanent.

Feel free to make questionable choices. Just be sure they are not permanent.

You will long for a sweet ride.

I longed for a sweeeeeet ride when I finally got my license. Maybe an old school pick up truck painted electric blue and all chromed up. Ohhhh yeah. The rough and tumble sassy farm girl. Reality: a 1984 diesel Jetta that would sound like a tractor and puff plumes of black smoke in case anyone in high school didn’t notice you trying to covertly park in the back lot.

Nowadays I long for a sweeeeet ride. Something fast and shiny that purrs like a kitten. Reality: you can’t fit 89 carseats into that ride. Guess I will be rolling mini-van style til I’m 78.

I could really see myself behind the wheel of this bad boy.

I could really see myself behind the wheel of this bad boy.

You will fantasize about running away.

When I was 17 I would dream about leaving this shithole town in the dust, moving to the big city where I could enjoy the nightlife, party like it was 1999 (which it was) and be an independent woman.

Now I dream about living in a bachelor apartment in a big city where I could enjoy a bubble bath and a full night’s sleep as an independent woman.

In 1998 Rachel was living my dream life. Actually, in 2013 I still fantasize about living Rachel's life. Single gal, inside out cat, nice apartment. BAM!

In 1998 Rachel was living my dream life. Actually, in 2013 I still fantasize about living Rachel’s life. Single gal, inside out cat, nice apartment. BAM!

People will have unrealistic expectations of you.

In high school I was expected to get good grades, show up for classes (LAME), hold down a part-time job, work on my extra-curricular ambitions, help around the house, chauffeur my brothers around and contribute to my family. THE NERVE of people to expect so much!

Now I am expected to cook good meals, get my kids to school on time (bathed and dressed no less), volunteer for 65 different extracurricular activities, sell 19 different brands of crappy fundraising junk for said-extra-curricular, make time for myself and my Hubs*, clean up the house, chauffeur my spawn around and contribute to my family. THE NERVE of people to expect so much!

You will get out alive.

My teen years sucked. They were not glorious, nor fun. I couldn’t wait for them to be over. I honestly felt like I was trudging through a torturous stretch of life that no human should be expected to bear. I couldn’t really imagine life after high school.

Some days motherhood feels that way. You just put one foot in front of the other, keep on trudging along with your head down slogging through the mud and the blood and the beer (ok, if you are literally slogging through mud, blood and/or beer you probably need to re-evaluate your parenting techniques). There are some very, very long days and some very, very short nights. You will be exhausted, smelly, weary and bored out of your mind. Your lovely children will hit you and tell you that they hate you and you are the WORST. They will refuse to eat your cooking and sprinkle Lego liberally in the dark. They will take 24 years to potty train and spend your life savings on orthodontia. You will burn supper and slam the dog’s tail in the door, snap at Hubs, forget your debit card when you have already filled up with gas. Some days will really suck. You can’t imagine life after parenthood.

But one day you will look back and remember singing karaoke in your pajamas with your girlfriends at a slumber party. You will remember playing Truth or Dare with that cute boy with those bad ass giant 80s glasses. You will remember charades night with your equally gawky siblings and infinitely patient parents. You will remember the smell of that tiny downy head (well, giant melon if we are talking one of my kids) when they finally pass out after crying their heads off. You will savor that chubby little hand in yours when you visited the elephants at the zoo one last time. You will remember that sweet breath on your neck as a tiny voice whispers “I love you mama”.

My first baby 7 years ago *sniff*

My first baby 7 years ago *sniff*

Be thankful for all the zits, the heartbreak, the physics midterms, the poopy diapers, burned chili and the tears. Without those we wouldn’t know how blessed we are to be living the best years of our lives.

*Not his real name.


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