Today I am officially the mother of a teenager. She is our oldest, so we are treading on uncharted waters. Of course, I already went through the teenage years myself, but this is the first time as a parent. I was a teenager in the 80’s. Today, things seem to be so much more advanced then they were back then.

My daughter was nice enough to come on her due date, which was an unseasonably warm day. I remember walking out to get the mail and I told her it would be a nice day to be born. It was the first and last time she listened to me without an argument. We were pleasantly surprised that our first baby came out healthy and after only 3 1/2 hours of labor. We were blessed.

My daughter is a sweet girl. She is very polite, kind to others, easily makes friends, does well in school and has a passion for music. She is very responsible and cares deeply about the people in her life. Like the 3 1/2 hours of labor, I hope this is a sign that these next few years will be easy for us.

Being a fan of the arts, I can already see the extra drama she has brought into the house. Overreaction has become a way of life. She has become proficient at stomping up the stairs while carrying her laundry, books or an open laptop, all the while claiming that no one understands her/loves her/wants to listen to her.

Always a big talker, she has opened up even more as a teenager. I know every detail of the drama that is going on in her friends lives as well. I know who likes who, who got a detention and why, and what everyone’s plans are for the weekend. Don’t get me wrong. I would much rather her share the details of her life then to clam up about them. It is just hard to follow sometimes. She talks in a teenage language now. She uses “like” too much and a lot of acronyms which I can only accredit to texting. I think if she cut those out of her sentences they would be much shorter. It is hard to find the point of her stories. I often have to ask her to repeat it or ask a lot of questions because they are filled with so much fluff.

I worry about her getting through these teenage years. I know that girls can be mean and boys can break your heart. She will have to make choices during these years that will effect the rest of her life. I don’t know what is scarier – the choices or the fact that she has to make them herself. We give our kids all the tools we think they will need and send them off into the world. Imagine giving your child a chain saw and watching her use it for the first time. I would be terrified that she would hurt herself or someone else in the process. I already feel myself tensing up. The teenage years are filled with new tools that come with lots of instruction manuals. These manuals are read to them by their parents, teachers and peers. As parents, we fear that, like us, they might skip the instructions and try to figure it out on their own.

Two days after my daughter was born, they sent her home with us. We did not know what we were doing and made lots of mistakes. Looking back, I wonder how she even got to be a teenager. Yet, here she is, starting another chapter in her life. I pray her teenage years are filled with happiness, great friends and first loves, good choices without regret, and success to whatever her heart desires. Happy Birthday, honey!

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