I admit it: Mine sometimes do. And I am in my mid-thirties; those teen years are long gone. But something about parenting can do that to a person, and I believe it has something to do with cracking under pressure. Society expects millennial parents to be perfect: Why shouldn’t we be? Every resource is at our fingertips with the click of a button. But it’s information overload, and I for one am done trying to keep up. I am letting go of the ‘angst’ and focusing more on what works for our family — ya know, the things that keep the kids smiling as they learn and grow into good humans.
All of this parenting pressure got me thinking about some parallels between navigating life as a teen and then doing it all over again when one becomes a parent. Both time periods challenge us, and ultimately, they help us to grow — but not without growing pains. Scour the internet and you will find no shortage of articles on teenage angst, but what about parents? Maybe we have a newborn, a toddler, or hey, even a teenager with their own angst, and it can make it tough to handle everyday stressors.
Does Parental Angst Even Exist?
Well, if you ask me, yes.
This is my tongue-in-cheek guide, if you will, of how Teen Angst can rear its ugly head in the form of Parental Angst, mostly in those early parenting years. (Plus, sometimes a little parental vent-sesh is what we need as parents, to know we are not alone. This is a tough job. Worth it? Absolutely! But tough.)
Teenagers are notoriously bad sleepers. I know I was back in the day. I would stay up all hours of the night, either chatting on the phone with a friend or watching TV (smartphones were not a thing yet).
Sigh…how I do miss those days when I was able to choose sleep deprivation vs. merely suffering from it.
Nowadays, there is no choice in sleep deprivation. It’s inevitable. When you have a newborn, it’s probably at its worst, but the lack of sleep continues to be an issue for parents long after the newborn stage. When they are toddlers, they wake you up with a tummy ache, with nightmares, or they just want an extra snuggle — I happen to have two toddlers, and I welcome the snuggles from them in the middle of the night; we are no longer in that stage where they scream and you have no idea what they want, but sleep deprivation is still a thing at the toddler stage, nevertheless. And I wager that parents of teens would say they lose sleep, too, staying up late and waiting for their teen to return home from a night out.
And can we just talk about this headline for a hot second? Six years of sleep deprivation. I’d say that is cause for angst. Yep.
Cue the endless stream of daytime coffee, please.
Lack of Control, Anyone?
In your new life as a parent, a lot of things are out of your control. And that alone is cause for concern among the type-A parent population. You can’t control a colicky baby, you can only try different approaches in feeding to lessen the symptoms. You also can’t control the never-ending barrage of well-meaning advice about how to feed your baby. And you certainly can’t control how many times a day you will try to avoid being hit with a spit-up bomb out of your baby’s mouth. All of this is to say — when things are not in our control, it is jarring and can make one, um, irritable.
FYI: While irritability is to be expected in new parents, for mothers, it can sometimes become postpartum rage. (Even though it can be scary to admit, don’t be afraid to seek help if you suspect you don’t feel quite right.)
Teenagers like to rebel. They are under pressure to stay on a schedule; early wake-up times, sitting in a classroom for hours, followed by after-school activities — all of this while also maintaining a social life. And so, teens sometimes just want to break free.
As new parents, I believe we face a similar struggle.
Of course, it is so important to get children on a schedule. By implementing a schedule at any stage of life, babies and children know what to expect, and it helps us as parents, too — it gives us slight control in some otherwise out-of-control situations. But let’s be real, it’s tiring to do the same things day in and day out.
Just as teens do, we also have to balance our social life with our everyday life (that is, if socializing is important to you. I don’t know where’d I’d be today without my close friends by my side. I value those friendships and want to keep them). And no, I’m not going to rebel against my life. My children are my number one priority, but there’s that little voice every so often that lets me be a little bit rebellious. I mean, it’s in the form of date night — going to a concert and maybe waking up with a hangover — but those tiny acts of ‘rebellion’ (obviously doing all of this responsibly, come on people…) allow me to feel like I still have that pre-baby life. And parents — we deserve to have fun! If you don’t believe that, I’m giving you permission to let loose every once in a while.
Happy parenting, and may your coffee be strong.