Thirteen is Ugly

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ThirteenWe hear about how hard teenagers are, how ugly those years are, but we don’t fully understand until we get there. It doesn’t matter how many times we’re told, or the stories we hear. Until we get there, and live with it right up in our faces, we don’t understand.

In the middle of dealing with teenagers, there are more than a few moments where we wistfully wish we could trade back to the toddler troubles. Up all night with an infant sounds wonderful. Teaching them to write their letters is something we can rock. Partly because we’ve already passed those stages and know what it takes to get through them, and partly because as they age our children challenge us more and more. Not just emotionally, but they make us work harder and harder. The problems become harder and more complex, the consequences higher. We have to work hard to parent and guide them through those years.

The teen years bring lovely personality changes…

My son got quiet and withdrew. My daughter got in my face. Yelling was not uncommon in those years.

A friend was in my home recently and commented, “Wow, you have a great relationship with your daughter. I wish I had a relationship with mine like that.” I just looked at her and smiled. My daughter is now 19. Hers is 13. And thirteen is ugly.

When I laughed and told her that, she asked if 14 was any better. Nope. Neither is 15 or 16. Maybe not 17 or 18.

She was seeing something completely different than the relationship we had when my daughter was 13. Thirteen was ugly, but now we are like best friends. We laugh and enjoy each other. But that wasn’t always the case…

At thirteen, she would get in my face and scream that she hated me. That she wished I was dead.

Thirteen is NOT pretty.  Thirteen is ugly.

She was angry at the world, and took it out on me.

It was a lot of rough days where I held on by a thread. Days when I wasn’t sure I would survive her teenage years. Days when I wasn’t sure if she would. And days when I counted down the number of days until graduation and she would go—even though I knew when the day came, I wouldn’t want her to go.

In many ways, those teenage years were an endurance test.

We survived.

It took years of therapy, lots of talks and support and forgiveness, but we made it. We have a great relationship now, but it took a lot of work. It wasn’t just handed to us. We worked hard for it.

So, no, you can’t compare now to when she was 13. Thirteen is ugly. Thirteen is brutal.

But if you’re lucky, if you keep an eye on the end goal, if you keep in mind that it’s a phase, if you keep in mind that they don’t really mean most of it, if you can keep all of that in mind and keep your cool, then you can end up in a really good place.

Because teenage daughters grow into women that can be beautiful treasure. But like the most beautiful diamond, you may have to get through a lot of dirt to find it and see it shine.

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Once Upon A Time, in another life, Kristin graduated from the University of Michigan with a plan to teach high school math. But then, life happened when she wasn’t looking…. She married an Army guy and 23 years, 3 kids, a few dogs, 7 homes, and 2 continents later she’s now a single mom living here in Colorado Springs. Along the way she volunteered for the Army, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and several schools; managed volunteer organizations, coached judo, trained to be a whitewater rafting guide, biked down Pike’s Peak and even managed to teach some high schoolers a little math before forging new trails writing, teaching and financial planning. She never knows what’s coming around the bend, but she’s learned to handle whatever life (and the Army!), throws at her with a smile and a laugh. She’s pretty sure you can get through anything with those, even if you have to fake it occasionally!!