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Why is it that when we see someone doing the right thing we instinctively feel the need to praise them for it? Shouldn’t it be part of the human experience that we always endeavor to be kind, to ease the suffering of others, to try to be the best of ourselves that we can be? Is it because we see it so infrequently that we need to call it out? Or is that because all the unkind, awful things in the world have such weight to them that we must spend more time shining light on the moments of humanity that make us feel better? Isn’t that the reason for the popularity of  Upworthy and videos like whatever latest viral video of something heartwarming that just popped up in your social stream? Restoration of our faith in humanity.

I’m preparing to donate stem cells and because I’m a writer/sharer at heart, I can’t help but share moments along the way on social. But I’m increasingly uncomfortable with people praising me or telling me they’re proud of me. A huge hope of mine in sharing has been to encourage others to register for marrow registry by showing how little of your time and effort it takes to possibly save someone’s life. And it’s an interesting adventure to me. I want people to talk to me about it and ask questions and yes, maybe be a little geeked out about it like I am, but not to look at me like I’m doing something extraordinary. There are people who do that. Who give something it’s risky for them to give.  This is not that.

But maybe that’s just what they need to say. And I need to be okay with that.


This morning I read a funny, poignant parenting piece  on the Huffington Post that pretty accurately conveyed the constant state of doing and being one feels as the parent of a young child. After smiling my way to the end, remembering being there last about 13 years ago, I wondered why there just aren’t that many similar parenting blogs/posts from parents of teenagers. I mean, the kids are still funny, complex, exasperating, all-consuming creatures. And there are whole worlds of new firsts to be experienced, joys to revel in, and lows to withstand. But I think those lows are why most teen parenting blogs are more in the vein of how-tos and self-helps.

We see our babies in these almost-adult bodies, still possessing every amazing quality you cherish, yet also poised to make some ridiculously bad choices. Or they’ve been replaced by your child’s doppelganger, who you really dislike them for long periods of time, and you live for those all-too-brief flashes of the person with whom you enjoy spending time. Or you find that you now live in a household filled with moody, easily offended people who you have to coax into letting you help them unravel the offense and let it go. Or you fight with them constantly because you haven’t figured out how to calmly do what you need to do to teach them and keep the peace. And all of that shit is scary. And we want to fix it. We desperately want to the magic bullets listed in an easy step-by-step. (And to you folks’ whose kids have unblemished teen years, mazeltov. And stop judging the rest of us.)

And yes, there’s also the fact that older kids have something to say about you sharing information about them but there are ways to do it while respecting their privacy.

It just feels clear to me that whereas over the last 10-15 years we’ve created an open forum for parents of young children to feel comfortable sharing their foibles and finding support in a community of other parents who can admit they’re learning as they go along, when you have teens somehow you are expected to be experts. On some level it feels like, well you’ve had this child for 15+ years, you should know exactly what to do. And if you don’t, go ahead and feel like a failure. But if you haven’t tried to rear a teenager before, it is still new. (They do say it’s just like having a toddler again but since you didn’t have to deal with possibility of your toddler having sex and any ensuing pregnancies, I’m going to go with no, it’s not exactly like that.)

Yes, you have layers of skills built up and you have a great understanding of your child but their changes and changing needs are all new and once again your parenting choices can feel like very much like well-educated guesses. And as terrifying as that is, that’s okay. Because more than likely they will be fine,  they will leave and they will be on their own. And then, a whole new set of worries and concerns will set in. Because it never ends. But how about we prop each other up in that realization and laugh our way through it all? Whenever I get to talk to another parent of a teen and hear that they are dealing with the same thing I am, there’s an insane measure of relief. Because I realize, especially as a single parent, I’m faking the funk half the time and hoping I’m getting it right, alternately patting myself on the back and doubting my strategy. So yes, finding another working parent who asked her teen to text her a pic of the clean room/empty garbage/finished project they claimed to have taken care of before they could leave the house can feel immensely gratifying. Let’s try to do that for each other more often, okay?

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