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My 13-year-old daughter literally cringes when I touch her. Any attempt at showing affection to my once cuddly and affectionate daughter is now met with resistance. You know, the I’m-a-teen-and-I’m-way-too-old-for-this attitude that consumes our children sometime between the ages of 11 and 16.


When I fall victim to this melancholy temperament, I’m quickly driven into a mental frenzy, trying to determine what I did wrong to deserve this. Is she still upset that I said Piper couldn’t sleep over this weekend? Is it punishment for the divorce that was finalized six years ago? Did I forget to say I love you this morning or did I say it too loudly as she left for school?

As a self-admitted control freak, I take the obvious next step to getting my desired outcome of capturing a small hint of the younger, softer version of my daughter: I try too hard. I ask too many questions and the tension grows.

“Who did you sit with at lunch today?” I don’t really know what else to say to get the conversation started.

“I don’t know, Mom,” she replies.

“Well, did you sit with Megan?”

“Mom! Why do you care?” Her agitation grows.

She’s on to me. I’m trying too hard. Reel it in, Mom, reel it in. New approach: bribery.

“Do you need something new to wear to the dance this weekend?” Bribery always works.

“No, I have something.”

Damnit.

“Who wants to go get ice cream?” I ask, thinking if I excite her two younger siblings with promises of hot fudge sundaes, she may lighten up too. She agrees. Ice cream it is.

I turn the music up and think how lucky she is to have a mom who listens to Selena, Taylor, and even DJ Khaled. Does she know what other moms listen to? She doesn’t have a clue just how cool I am. I sing loudly, dance as I drive, and think about what a cool mom I am. I may be 40 in age, but I’m only 27 in spirit.

“OMG Mom, that guy is watching you dance. Stoooop!” She says at the first red light.

Hey, I’m trying here! Doesn’t she realize that everything I’ve done since I picked her up at school was an effort to feel like her mom again? The mom who she would crawl into bed with every night at four years old? The mom she used to dance with in the living room? The mom she used to ask for help with homework? What has happened and how can I stop this? I want my daughter back, now!

I often view the symptoms of adolescence as evidence that I’m doing something wrong. I think I can control my daughter’s actions and reactions. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that the more I try to control her, the farther away I push her. Teens are unpredictable. One minute, they are chatty and happy and full of laughter and the next they’re sulky, withdrawn, and lethargic. Overnight, our precious and dependent children transform into mini-adults, struggling to become independent thinkers who desperately want to rely less and less on Mom and Dad.

My daughter is coming of age. This is a crucial time in her life and, though I may not recognize the 13-year-old whose shorts are getting shorter and legs are getting longer, I realize that I must let go and embrace these transformative years. They are, after all, practice for adulthood.

When a simple conversation feels more like pulling teeth, remember that this is not personal. It’s more likely that your teen feels safe with you, and she’s testing the boundaries of independence while asserting her individuality more. It’s not about your parenting skills or lack thereof, it’s not about the clothes you wear or the dance moves you bust out in the living room. It’s simply a symptom of adolescence. This is a good thing. When the going gets tough, remember these tenets:

This is temporary

This will not last forever. Your teen will mature into an independent adult. It’s inevitable. One day, you will look back and laugh at the moodier days and how it all went down. So when it feels like the storm is too big to battle, hold strong, Mom and Dad, for this too shall pass.

You are enough

It’s very intimidating to witness your child morph into a teen and young adult before your very eyes. It can feel like the entire relationship has changed. It’s okay to feel lost at times. Do not overthink it. Do not force conversations. Quiet air is okay. Distance is okay. Just be you. Discipline and love with consistence. Tell your corny jokes even if she rolls her eyes. All she wants you to be is the person she loves: you! She may not say it or show it, but she loves you unconditionally for you. Do not believe anything less.

She wants to be loved

She may cringe when you hug her or never be the first to say “I love you” anymore, but don’t stop on your end. Say “I love you” just as much as you always have, more if you’re brave. Find new and creative ways to show affection if hugs don’t do it anymore. Put post-it notes with words of encouragement on her mirror. Text her jokes or riddles from work. Let her pick the menu for dinner.

Find ways to express your love that don’t require a formal acceptance from her. It’s tempting to back off when your attempts at affection are met with resistance, but challenge yourself to find new methods of expressing your love. Respect her boundaries, but never stop showing her you love her just as she is, moodiness and all.

Put your fear aside

Underneath my parental anxiety is fear: fear of losing the relationship as I know it, fear of losing her unconditional love, and fear of failure. Fear is a liar. You will not lose your teen or her love. As she matures and learns life’s lessons, your relationship is sure to go through its own transformation, but trust the process. Trust that the love and bond you share will survive whatever is to come. Believe with conviction that you are a great parent. Recognize your underlying fears and put them aside. Offer your daughter the space and unconditional love she needs to become her adult self.

Your teen is on a journey to independence. You are her coach, mentor, and number-one fan. Love her with all you have and trust your parental instincts. The bumpiest journeys offer the best lessons, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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