A Year With A Teenager.

June 28th, 2014 marked the 1 year anniversary of Kaleb coming to us permanently (although, we finalized the adoption in November.).

Brian was working that day, but he was off the next.  So, we made plans to celebrate the anniversary at breakfast, the next morning, with my parents.  But, I still wanted to make sure to recognize the official day, of course.

So, that night, I served my kids dinner and ceremoniously stood in front of them and announced that a year ago something important had happened.  I paused while William played along and guessed a couple of things.  Then I said that it was the anniversary of Kaleb’s placement and I prepared to make a few mushy statements about family.  But, before I could, Kaleb started to argue with me and told me that I had the date wrong.  I tried to be lighthearted as I pointed out my evidence to the contrary, but, as he continued to insist, I just felt deflated, gave up, and sat down.  I was hurt beyond words that he was going to argue this, of all things.

Welcome to life with a teenager.

Several minutes later, he did apologize and I accepted, even though, my heart wasn’t in it.  We went out the next morning for breakfast with my parents and they gave him hugs and made a few mushy statements.  I went to the store for dinner, later, and bought a pie for dessert.  I thought it would be a nice way to end the anniversary weekend.  But we didn’t have it because he got invited to a party at his friend’s church and I didn’t see the point in asking him to stay.

All in all, not what I visualized.

I haven’t written in awhile.  Hopefully, there will still be people around to read this.  But, the fact is, I have been struggling with writing one of my trademark honest, but inspirational posts.  Because I haven’t felt inspired.  I’ve felt stressed.  I have four drafts of this blog post.  Each one is a little less of a downer, but they are downers.

The truth is, I think that I’ve had my own version of Postpartum Depression.  I remember struggling  a bit with transitioning to William and Antwan’s arrival and I firmly believe that you don’t physically have to give birth to a child for the child to have a similar response.  And, I’m struggling again. 

I don’t know what I thought life would be like with a teenager.  I know that I naively thought that he would be as easy-going and cooperative as he was for the first few weeks.  I didn’t think he would evolve into a child who would get annoyed by my pictures and, particularly, annoyed by my requests for smiles.  (How hard is it to smile??)  I didn’t think he would evolve into a child who would seemingly disagree with 90% of my suggestions of fun or necessary activities.  Of course, he probably didn’t think that I would evolve into a more moody mom with less patience than I displayed in the first few weeks.  Really, it’s ridiculous to think that either one of us could keep that up, anyway.

It was probably a combination of unfulfilled expectations as we both discovered that life was not like we visualized.

Meanwhile, William’s visions of the loving, supportive big brother were shattered by the teenager who has stated on more than one occasion that he doesn’t like little kids copying him or wanting to be like him.  It makes me wonder if Kaleb has ever read a book or watched a movie involving a kid with younger siblings.

This doesn’t mean that Kaleb never has his good big brother moments and that he doesn’t make ever make efforts because he does. (And, Kaleb, if you’re reading this, I have seen your efforts in the last couple of days.  Thank you for that.)  But, I am so sensitive to the not-so-good moments, and, even though, I’m told that’s how big brothers are; I have to say that I expected more from him.  After living most of his life without a secure family; I didn’t expect being a big brother to annoy him, so often.  It makes, the fact, that William was the pioneer in the “Let’s adopt Kaleb” plan, a little ironic or sad or something.

I guess we just thought he’d be a little more grateful.  Not to us; just for the situation.  I tell them, all the time, that we should all be grateful for our family.  They should be grateful that they get to grow up together and we should be grateful that we get to be their parents, etc.  All of us lose sight of that, sometimes, and that’s ok.  But, if I’m honest, I didn’t think that Kaleb would sweat the small stuff like other teenagers.  I didn’t think that he would get upset if he didn’t get the fork that he wanted for dinner or get territorial over his basketball or xbox controller (while the other three share theirs) or (again) find family pictures to be a burden (sometimes).  I know that he’s a teenager and he’s a teenager with issues.  But, it’s just plain not what I expected or hoped for.

Somewhere along the line, when I felt like I was constantly arguing with him about doing his homework or studying for his tests or sharing or hearing him say that he didn’t want to….whatever it was; I think that I started to sabotage things myself.  I started to assume things would go wrong and react accordingly.  This way I couldn’t be disappointed, right?  But, by the time that I entered the situation where I was expecting to be disappointed, I was so worked up that I had already increased the tension in the room.  So, even if he was having a good day and he does have those; I would be ready for a battle.  I would be tense when I picked him up from school, tense when I got up in the morning, and tense when I got home from work. 

You don’t have to tell me that’s no way to live and I can tell you the reasons that I felt that way.   But, really, it doesn’t matter.  Because the fact is, I’m the grown-up.  So, I have to evolve.  I think that I lost sight of that a little. 😉  This is not to say that he shouldn’t make an effort, too.  Because, darn it, he should.  (And, darn it, sometimes, he does.)  Because, wow, teenager are challenging; especially teenagers with extra issues.  But, I have to remember who I am and why I did this. 

For him and for them.

So, Postpartum-ish or not, crappy at dealing with change or not, over-thinking or not; I am the mom.

I love my children and I have to make this work.  And, I have to somehow do it without destroying us all.  Emotionally, I mean.  It’s not that dire. 🙂

So, a few days after his anniversary, I pulled out 2 pies (I love BOGO) and had him pick one.  At this point,  I have to admit that I was mostly doing it out of obligation and because I needed space in my fridge. 

But, then, Kaleb said in his own ceremonious way,  “So, Mom, is there some special reason for this pie?” 

And, I mustered up some enthusiasm and acknowledged the date again. 

I knew that he was trying to make it up to me.  And, I let him. 

And, we enjoyed our pie.  It was really good pie.

Teenagers are challenging.  I am challenging.   Life is challenging.  Love is challenging. 

My life is definitely not what I thought it was going to be.  But, it is my life.

I’ve used this quote before, but, what the heck, I’m gonna use it again!  I can get away with that, right??

“They never said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.”

Let’s do this.


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20 thoughts on “A Year With A Teenager.

  1. Yeah! Let's do this~ What especially rings true for me as a parent of a teen, is your words: \”All in all, not what I visualized.\” My feelings exactly. But that does, also, open up so many doors and opportunities! You are up to this challenge! Hugs, Pam


  2. There must be something in the air because both of my teenage boys are pushing the limits right now too. If you are having a rough day, message me on facebook or e-mail me, I might be there too. Let's be a strength for each other, it's hard sometimes for other to understand the extra struggles of adopted teenagers. My email is dkmiller@shaw.ca.


  3. I fear my post will go through twice but wiling to risk it then not have it go at all. I am holding you in my heart. Parenting is hard. I too adopted and have felt the postpartum depression. Get help if you need it, there is no shame. Also, as yucky as that teenage acting out stuff feels, it is really a compliment to you and your family. He knows he is safe. He knows he is loved. No matter what. He can be himself, even the jerky version. That's pretty huge for a year. HUGS.


  4. Bracing myself for when the honeymoon with our 10 year old fost-adopt son wears off. And, in scary parallels to your situation, he's already asking if we could please also adopt his older sister. Yikes. You're doing the right thing hanging in there again – after all, even well adjusted teenagers are ungrateful a big amount of the time.


  5. I hear you on this one. I'm a stepparent, which I think has many similarities to adoption (but with its own set of weird conditions and complications) and my eldest is 15. he's being a horrible teen this summer. He's horrible to his brother, he's horrible to his parents (all of his parents), and he's desperately trying for some semblance of control and authority when he really isn't showing the responsibility or initiative to actually MERIT that control or authority. So on top of the post-adoption post-partum, you've also got what sounds like a pretty typical 15 year old in a lot of ways. I can only imagine. I agree, though, if he wasn't comfortable with you, you wouldn't have the back and forth, the making up, and the honest emotions. I hope the rest of the summer is better!


  6. So glad to see a new post. I always find your perspective so authentic and inspiring. I hope things get a bit easier for everyone. Wish I had some sage advice, but am sending your family good thoughts.


  7. Aw, honey. You've got yourself a moody teenager. Hugs!At least you will,be prepared when the other three become teens.Hang in there.You don't have to be \”inspirational\” for us – your readers. Just be real. Which you are.


  8. Wow, it sounds like you all have your hands full! I relate to the comment about not showing the responsibility, but wanting the control and authority. In so many ways, my son is so young, but wants to be treated like an adult. I hope things get better on your end, too!


  9. Thanks for reading! Yeah, if I survive him, I am hoping that the other boys will be a breeze. 😉 Lizzie is another story, though. I know that she's gonna be rough. Right now, her moody and dramatic antics are just plain adorable, haha; they won't be later. 🙂


  10. thank you! 🙂 Like yours, mine has moments of shining loving brilliance. He's growing into a witty, strong man. He's just trying to jump over a few steps of learning first, and unfortunately for him, he's got parents who are making him stay the course and grow at a more appropriate speed.


  11. Keeping it real. I think in each stage of parenting, no matter what our situation, there is a period of grieving…of moving on….of growing up and maturing. Honestly, I think it's me that has to do the most maturing. I liked the days when asked my toddlers to sit down and they did without question…lol. We are powerful parents, powerful women. I don't know you – complete stranger but I can relate to your story in so many ways because our children are roughly the same ages. Yes, we can do this!!


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