It’s no secret your teenager wants freedom. A familiar sentence that most parents of budding adults hear is, “You never let me do what I want.”
God knows I’ve heard that phrase countless times from my kids whenever I said no, attempted to keep them safe, or tried to dissuade them from doing something obnoxious. I said it to my parents way back in the 90’s, and realize it’s the ageless battle cry of teenage angst.
Years from now a teenager will whine to their parents, “Why can’t I go with Anakin in his flying car? We’re just going out for some raindrop cakes, I promise I’ll have the robot clean my room tomorrow.”
But something curious has happened on this often bumpy journey to adulthood that I didn’t expect.
Possibly even more often than my teenager, I’m the one left thinking, “You never let me do what I want.”
I’ve always been a person who believes people who show their authentic selves are happier, healthier, and more well-adjusted than their inhabited counterparts.
Throughout my life there were periods of time I wasn’t true to myself, but by the time I arrived at middle age all that nonsense was behind me. Unfortunately, this new found enlightenment coincided with my children’s adolescence — synonymous with sheer embarrassment and horror toward the person who gave birth to them.
Simply put, I can’t do what I want, and as a lady whose mantra is “I gotta be me,” often I end up feeling stifled.
Teenagers are a perplexing breed.
They want and crave love and acceptance while simultaneously taking delight in needing to be edgy and shocking to their parents.
A prime example of this was when my son, who like his mom has a passion for music, introduced me to a new band. He played an album by The 1975, a group from Manchester, England, and anxiously awaited my reaction.
I didn’t immediately love them.
“How can you not like them?” my son wailed, clearly disappointed.
In the months that followed I took my kid to see the band live a few times. I knew he wanted me to like them, so in an effort to connect with my son, I started listening to them on my drives to the grocery store.
Soon I was enthralled by the relevant lyrics and haunting voice of Matt Healy. It wasn’t long before I was singing along, much to the chagrin of my child, who claimed I ruined the experience for him and huffed whenever I asked when the new album was coming out.
Pretty much everything I do annoys my teenager.
I’ve gotten used to my role — an old person who knows nothing and is embarrassing. Normally it doesn’t bother me, yet when it puts a damper on freely expressing myself, it starts to cramp my style.
I’ve compiled a neat list of things I am prohibited to do by a person who’s poop floaters I used to fish out of the bathtub.
1.) Sing along to any current artist
2.) Sing along to any artist from my youth
3.) Wear a push-up bra
4.) Attempt to make myself look alluring in any way
5.) Acknowledge a cute member of the opposite sex
6.) Follow the same celebrity on Instagram that my teen follows
7.) Ask what “get that bag” means in rap songs
9.) Eat an edible, fall down a hill ripping a pair of leggings, and lie on the ground until the sky stops swirling (That actually happened to a friend, not me.)
As a mom, and critical thinker, I’ve spent time thinking what exactly it is about me having fun that my teenager finds so irksome.
The role of mother has historically been equated with unconditional love, sacrifice, responsibility, and even a holy figure. Pretty high standards to adhere to.
Only recently has society started to get wise to the fact that we are actual human beings.
Moreover, our kids are used to seeing us as chauffeurs, cooks, cleaning ladies, workers, and life organizers. There’s not a whole lot of room for fun in motherhood.
We are so good at keeping things together, often our children don’t recognize us as real people. When we act out of character it seems to freak the kids out a bit.
But mothers are so much more than mothers, and even though it’s our most important job, it’s healthy to show there are other parts to us, even if it makes our teenagers roll their eyes.
So moms, blast that music, wear that tight shirt, and eat those special brownies once in a while. The kids can either like it or lump it. Being authentic is priceless.