What is it about parenting an 18-year-old that you liked the most?
There is an excitement and novelty to watching your teen discover the next stage in life whether it is the city they will live in, the school they will attend or what they will study. But then they go off into that new life, and for many parents this is a moment tinged with sadness.
When did you know your child was a teenager?
The first time he didn’t tell me something. Children share unimpeded. Teenagers edit.
What do you wish you knew before you had a teen?
That patience in waiting for stages to pass is rewarded. Never assume that a haircut, a behavior pattern, an attitude or outlook will last.
What advice do you wish you could tell your former self about mothering an 18-year-old?
Eighteen-year-olds need to push us away. Leaving home can be as painful and frightening for them as it is for us. Once they have settled into their college life, they can quickly become the wonderful son or daughter they once were.
What about motherhood inspires you?
My husband. I have learned so much by watching him. He is so unlike me and opens my eyes every day to a different ways of parenting our sons.
What do you hope readers will take with them from your piece?
That it is easy to become overcome with some of the sadness of our child’s last year at home. But it is a bittersweet year. And many of the loveliest most heartfelt moments occur as we watch with pride our children making their way towards adulthood.
Purchase Brain, Child’s Special Issue for Parents of Teens, which includes the This is Adolescence Series – Eight essays from America’s leading writers on ages 11 – 18.
Read an excerpt: This is Adolescence: 12