In Her Words
Lessons from the Frontlines
Finding common ground with your teens
By: Mary Beth Sammons
As a single mom of three teenagers, I’ve been around the parenting block. (And these days I’m “riding shottie” in the passenger seat, with my 15-year-old daughter Emily at the wheel. “No, Mommy” has been transformed into “Please, you’re embarrassing me” or sometimes just a very dramatic eye roll. I’ve worn many titles – working mom, stay-at-home mom and, most recently, “Sandwich Generation,” a term that was coined because I’m part of a group that is “sandwiched” between parents that need my help, and kids who are not yet totally on their own.
My life is fast-paced, overscheduled and very busy. I find myself constantly pulled – racing from the tennis courts where Emily is mid match to the hospital, where the ER doctors know my dad by name. I’ve also mastered the art of struggling to maintain a career via cell phone and laptop, and I text message or IM to remind my son, Thomas, to remind me to be where I’m supposed to be, which is where I’m usually not. When my daughter Caitlin queried on a Saturday night: “Do you want to go to a movie tonight?” I assumed she was on her cell phone with a friend, as I instantly had a flashback to her freshman year when she insisted that I not sit in the same theater after chauffeuring her friends to the movies. It would embarrass her.
The last book I remember curling up with is Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Some days I feel marooned in my own living room. Yet I try my hardest because, like every mom, I love my kids tremendously. I want the best for their lives, even if some days I feel like I am barely hanging on. Next week, I will share the secrets I have found for keeping on keeping on.