When my brother and I were in elementary school, one of our favorite games was Life. It simulates one’s adventures through adulthood and even though it has surprising twists and turns as you traverse the board in a miniature car, it never could have prepared me for the many unexpected moments that plagued our family over the past couple months.
The devastating loss of our beloved Labrador, stress fractures that kept my daughter from playing varsity soccer for weeks, an unexpected return to teaching, and the adoption of a puppy seemed to throw our world into a tailspin. I felt like I was on a crazy hamster wheel of life that was out of control. Yet I plodded on, taking care of work, family, and managing a household even though my mental load was insane and my wellbeing was suffering.
Thankfully, today begins a new month. When I think back on September and October, I’m glad for the moments that brought much needed calm to my otherwise crazy start to fall, including time with Toyota at the New York City Wine & Food Festival.
4 Lessons I’m Learning About Parenting Teens
Given everything that was going on, it would have been understandable if I had said no to a weekend of food, fitness, fun, and hybrid vehicles. Instead I said yes to one of the best decisions I could have made for myself at the time and was reminded of some important lessons about parenting teens along the way.
There’s No GPS to Guide You Through Life
The What to Expect-type books that we bought during pregnancy and in the early years of parenting never could have prepared us for what’s ahead. Once you get past the tween years, there’s no operator’s manual or turn by turn directions to indicate what’s ahead. With two teens in our house and confronting a classroom of 8th graders each day, navigating the twists and turns might seem tricky but the journey is always exciting.
Buckle Up: Life Moves Crazy Fast
The lack of a GPS to guide us through life means we can only do one thing- buckle up! While the road may be smooth at times, when you’re parenting teens there’s always a bump, crossroad, bridge, or curve ahead when you least expect it. Sometimes life’s moments speed at you like oncoming traffic when all we want to do is hang out in the slow lane.
Teen milestones come at us, making us realize how little time we have left with before our kids reach adulthood. We’ve realized the idea of 18 summers is a lie and we’re struggling to hold on to the childhood that is slipping through our fingers. The firsts for teens are probably even more significant for us as parents as we realize what the transition from middle to high school means. In many ways, the start of high school is the beginning of the end.
When we celebrated early milestones like first steps, a first birthday, and starting kindergarten there were so many moments left to celebrate in our futures. With teens, you’re in the season of last moments of childhood as this transformation occurs before your eyes. Suddenly your child is in their last season of playing sports for the team that they’ve been with forever, heading off to their last homecoming dance as they get their driver’s license, and filling out college applications.
Suddenly we become the parents without little kids, nostalgic for what once was. We’re tempted to turn to the fellow mom in the grocery store as she negotiates with her cart terrorist in her sleep deprived state and let her know that the time really does go fast. But since we remember how we felt when strangers shared the same sentiments with us when we were in that same state, we offer an understanding smile, void of judgement, to let that mom know she’s got this parenting thing.
Take Time to Recharge
Even though we’re parents of teens and we love that they sleep well through the night and beyond (often until Noon the following day!) we’re sleep deprived too. Our sleep deprivation isn’t the same as the parents with babies because we’re kept awake with worry, wondering when our new teen driver might arrive home, praying to the college gods that our kid gets into their first choice school, and thinking about the many things on our to-do lists for the next day. We try to calm our minds knowing that an early morning wake up is mere hours away.
As we navigate the twists and turns of life and combat exhaustion, I’ve learned that it’s important to take time for myself. My dedication to regular Orange Theory classes, recognizing that I deserve a massage, and realizing its ok to say no is my way of recharging. These days I’m fiercely protective of these moments because it’s taken me years to realize how important they are to my wellbeing.
Time with Toyota at the New York City Wine & Food Festival was busy. We had a full weekend of deliciousness voting on burgers at a Burger Bash competition, sampling tacos that featured global flavors and a chance to see one of my favorite chefs- Rick Bayless, and participating in the many activations Toyota offered at the Grand Tasting signature event.
But staying at the brand new Equinox at Hudson Yards was the perfect place to stay because it provided balance in a busy city and a weekend full of events. The luxurious rooms and spaces throughout the hotel were built for relaxation.
Meals featured the freshest ingredients that were in line with how I like to eat at home and the fitness offerings were amazing! I ran The Vessel on Saturday and my Sunday started with a yoga session. It just what I needed as my time with Toyota was winding down and I was preparing for my week ahead.
Enjoy the Ride
Before my time with Toyota in New York City ended, we got to enjoy a Sunday drive. It was a perfect fall day where the morning chill gave way to warm temperatures. I hopped in a spacious Avalon Hybrid and drove north to The Cloisters under blue skies and then took a gorgeous Rav4 Hybrid south towards the World Trade Center
Since Emily will be eligible to get her driver’s license in just a few more months, we’re thinking ahead to our next family car. We’ve already decided we want a hybrid vehicle but would we want a sedan like the roomy Avalon that continues to impress me every time I drive it?
Or would we go the SUV route as the family station wagon gets passed on to Emily? I’ve always loved the Highlander and having spent a couple weeks during summer test driving the Highlander Hybrid, I wonder if my dream car is now too big for us and the Rav4 Hybrid might be a better fit.
These days I’m not only thinking about our present lifestyle with two teens and a puppy, but I’m also considering what life might be like for me and my husband when we become empty nesters.
Time in any car always gives me think time and as I was thinking about the merits of each car during my Sunday drive, I also thought about the saying “the days are long but the years are short”. This never made much sense to me when my kids were younger but now they’re older, I’m all about enjoying the ride through the next few years of parenting teens because indeed, the years are short.
Huge thanks to Toyota for inviting me to be their guest at the New York City Food and Wine Festival. All experiences were hosted but no additional compensation was received. Affiliate links are included in this post.