As Summer winds down, I’ve been reflecting a bit on how different of a summer it was. As a mom of two teenage boys, 14 and 16, not only did they not need me the same way that they used to – they didn’t want me around in the same way either! So, let me explain. Seven years ago, I left the corporate world to create a more balanced life for my family; one where I could still provide a great income, but do so on my terms around my kids’ schedule. The summer I started, my boys were 7 and 9. We had a theme for the summer – “Camp Kara.” I would work early in the morning, for the bulk of the day I was theirs (beach, pool, hikes, touring our city), and I’d wrap up my work-day in the evening. And for the past several years, we’ve spent a few weeks in the month of July in the mountains of Colorado. This year was different; no vacation due to their insane sports schedule. No beach, no pool, no hikes and certainly no “Camp Kara.”
The one that really punched me in the stomach was planning my entire work-day to get home by 3pm to take my younger son to his first high school football practice to only be told, “Mom, I don’t need a ride – my brother will drive me,” and off they went without looking back. Ouch! I thought to myself, “they really don’t need me right now—at least not how they used to.”
What they needed from me had changed. They now needed food (and lot’s of it), a space to “hang out” with friends, advice on personal hygiene (e.g. skin care), and for me to be present all of their games. I’ve seen no less than 30 baseball games this summer and I wouldn’t change a thing. They needed my trust, which at times these days can be hard. Not that I don’t trust my kids, but I don’t trust the unknown. It’s uncomfortable to watch your two teenagers drive away together. It’s uncomfortable when they have a whole set of new friends and you don’t know their families. It’s uncomfortable when you’ve heard what goes on at parties but trust they will make good decisions. And it’s really uncomfortable when they start having “girls over.”
So, here’s what I’ve learned (so far) from having two teenagers as I enter this next stage of motherhood; writing it down helped me, and maybe my observations will help you, too.
1. Communicate with your kids. Have clear ground rules and expectations.
2. Have something for yourself. I see many women who put their careers on hold to raise kids and are now left feeling a void when their spouses leave for work and their kids don’t need as much from them. There’s great value you to develop a workout routine, join networking groups or start a new business; just find your passion—something that excites you every day. And if that passion ends up being work that you love, it won’t feel like work at all.
3. Reconnect with old friends.
4. Get to know your spouse again.
5. Create a space for your kids that they are proud to invite friends to. Have things for them to do – basketball hoops, pool table, ping pong. There are lots of resale websites – you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on these things. Make your house the social hub – so you can get to know their new friends.
6. Always have a stocked pantry and refrigerator.
7. Trust your kids until they give you a reason not to. If they are driving, install an app such as Life 360 – helps to know when they come and go, how fast they are going and if they are using their cell phones. Make sure they know you have it and will only check it if they give you a reason to.
8. Enjoy them while you can becausem, before you know it, they’ll will be leaving forheading off to cCollege.