She's endured the sleepless nights of infancy, the temper tantrums of toddlerhood and the oh-so-awkward tween stage. But I checked in to see how well this full-time mama—a 55-year-old Bendite, cancer survivor and former college professor—is surviving the teenage years (14 and 18, to be exact). She preferred her name not be used.
How old do you feel?
NE: Is that before 7 am and without coffee? Much older.
How many gray hairs do you have?
NE: I'll have to ask my hair dresser. Every three months, she spends an entire hour and a half trying to cover them up. But at least I have hair.
Do you wish your kids were little again?
NE: I smile when I think of their younger days. Although the more I think about it, the more I remember how exhausting those days were. It's so true that "the days are long; the years are short." But the teenage years are still demanding, and I believe that being available is even more critical during this stage.
Are they too cool for you now?
NE: Maybe awkwardly less affectionate in public. And I must maintain a non-embarrassing distance unless needed. But I see it changing and becoming better. I had always dreaded this stage as a mom, but I've managed to maintain a high expectation of "love over superior/coolness standard."
How do they make you proud?
N.E.: They demonstrate gratitude, awareness of others and an increasing sense of self. I also get to witness their channeled passions, watch their growing independence and maturity, and see them aim for and achieve their goals.
And how do they drive you crazy?
NE: "First World problems," technology needs, and not giving back more.
What makes you the "cool" parent?
NE: It's certainly not the way I dress. But I've been informed that it's my understanding of both adult and teenage views. I'm also "cool" because I hear and respect my kids' voices now (over the "shoulds" and "ought-tos" instead). They've earned that.
And the "strict" parent?
NE: I enforce consequences, restrict phones and limit television.
What's the one rule at your house that can't be broken?
NE: NO LYING.
How have they felt about living in Bend?
NE: They were raised here, but they've had significant travel opportunities throughout the U.S. and abroad. They have seen other parts of the world; yet they love where they live and appreciate Bend's beauty, nature and outdoors.
What's something your mother once told you that you now believe?
NE: "Moms have eyes in the back of their heads." But otherwise, she really didn't give advice in clichés. Recently in life, I learned that my mom would refer to the ratty, antique rocking chair in the upstairs attic as her "crying chair." As tough as she was, she still needed the emotional escape during all stages of motherhood.