To Be the Mom of a Fifteen-Year-Old


I don't really remember my fifteenth year that much, but I do remember being a teenager. I had this God-awful perm that was all the rage back then, and I tried to feather my bangs using tons of Aqua Net or whatever knock-off brand I could find. My clothes matched each year's fad, too--big, hoop, neon earrings; balloon dresses; shiny blouses; black, velvety, stirrup pants. Yes, I was quite the fashion plate, which is the reason why I have not saved a single clothing item or piece of jewelry from this era. (Pictures are scarce, too.)  Combine these awesome fashion choices with a pimply face, large nose (my nose grew faster than my face), and a tall frame that was always hunched over, and boys were lined up to invite me to the prom--NOT!

I choose to forget this timeframe for obvious reasons, and yet, here's my son going through this same awkward phase. The phase when friends adore you in private but ignore you in public; when you think you know everything--from high fashion to honors biology--but come up short; when friends' opinions matter but parents know nothing; and when life seems to be a boring drag because you're too young to be an independent adult but too old to enjoy all the things you loved as a child.

I'm trying to navigate this period as carefully as I can... A part of me wants to say, "I was a teenager, too, and it sucked. In just a few more years, trust me, you will find yourself, and all the things you didn't care about or pretended not to care about will matter. Your school education will matter; the news and what's going on in the world will matter, your parents' valuable life experiences will matter, and even the vacations and family outings we make you go on against your will, will matter."

For now, because history repeats itself, and teenagers will be teenagers (even if they are Gen Z), here are some of my favorite and not-so-favorite musings about raising my teenage son.

Cologne - In the summer, one of Lewie's friends started ordering Dr. Squatch soap. (I think it was advertised on TikTok.) Before long, Lewie was begging me to buy the soap, too. His favorite scent: Coconut Castaway. (I'll admit--these soaps do smell like a dream.) Eventually, the soap led to a favorite cologne--Fireside Bourbon. 

The cologne story doesn't stop there. His friend LOVES smelling good so much that he asked for a variety of colognes as Christmas gifts, and he loves going to the mall just to test out new fragrances. Now, Lewie is rocking "Afnan 9 PM" (a cologne he begged me to buy him), but he puts on way too much. I advise him to wear less every day, but since I don't know what I'm talking about, I'm going to see if Daddy Lew can run interference.

The Mint-Green Sweatshirt - In September, Lewie and I went to Boston with his best friend and best friend's mom. We had a delightful time exploring the city, especially eating at Quincy Market. On our way to the Duck Tour, Lewie pulled me over because he saw a sweatshirt he liked. I was taken aback. Lewie interested in clothes? This was a first. He pointed to a mint-green, Boston hoodie hanging on a vendor cart. I was surprised by the color but didn't want to critique the very first clothing item my son had ever picked out for himself. "Can he try it on?" I asked the woman working at the cart. She had all sizes, so he proudly left with a large, Boston, mint-green sweatshirt that day.

As I bought the $40 shirt, I did wonder if I would be wasting my money. Maybe he was just buying something because he saw his friend buy a few things...That worry, however, is way in the past now. Since that fateful moment, Lewie has worn his sweatshirt EVERY DAY. Since he hates wearing coats, he proudly wears his hoodie instead, and I mean, PROUDLY. On more than one occasion, he's told me his sweatshirt is perfect because the color complements all of his clothes. I've reminded him that he has other hoodies, sweaters, and long-sleeved shirts, but they haven't been touched. On occasion, he might wear another navy blue sweatshirt that he designed himself, but this mint-green hoodie travels with him everywhere. 

Fast forward six months, and this hoodie is starting to pill as it's seen better days, but I can't convince him to wear anything else. At this point, only the promise of warmer weather may get him to part from his favorite clothing article of all time.

Ski Club - The answer to my prayers came in the form of Ski Club. At the beginning of high school, I was begging, even pleading, for my son to get involved in something.  I know by now my son's interests are in everything related to computers and computer applications--coding, AI, graphic design, and music production, to name a few; however, I kept telling him that colleges want to see a "well-rounded student."  They look at sports, volunteerism, clubs, and activities just as seriously as they look at grades. He'd listen to my request, promise to consider getting involved, and then put it on the back burner.

In January, out of nowhere, Lewie gave me a form to fill out for Ski Club. Say what?! "Yeah, my friends are going to do it, so I want to sign up." I was shocked. I knew he had friends that liked skiing, but anytime I proposed the idea of taking lessons, he wasn't interested. Now he was joining the high school club. After some further investigation, I learned that meets were on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at a nearby ski place, and I could pay for him to have lessons. He wasn't thrilled about them. "My friends can just teach me," he responded, but I pleaded that he take them, and when that didn't sink in, I let the club advisors know I wanted him to take the lessons, too.

Fast forward to March, and Ski Club is over. On the positive side, he LOVES skiing, and he is definitely joining again next year. On the hesitant side, during Lewie's last day of ski club, he went down a black diamond and plowed into the ski patrol building--no exaggeration.  The ski patrol heard the thud and immediately came out to examine him for any signs of a concussion or broken bones. (His classmates, witnessing him going airborne, made him into a rockstar.) He was super fortunate that he walked away from it with just a few bruised muscles, but as a neurotic mom, I will be after him to take more lessons and get more practice before he decides to go down a black diamond again.

High School - High school is continuing to be a beast. Lewie is taking mostly honors classes this year, and his three hardest subjects are Honors Biology, Honors Geometry, and Honors Spanish II. (He's only a freshman.) I had no idea that some of the material would be so advanced, and even I, at times, catch myself saying, "Why does he need to know this?" Unfortunately, I have to keep my opinions to myself because Lewie asks this question every day. Just yesterday, my son commented, "I'm going to work with computers; why do I need to know about DNA synthesis?"  

Biology definitely seems to be the hardest; in my high school and even college biology classes, we were dissecting frogs and learning about the body's eleven organ systems. Now it's learning about the cell cycle, DNA replication, and cancer and genetic mutations (to name a few). When I try to help him study, I have to learn all of this from PowerPoint slides with the hope that I know enough to be able to quiz him. A part of me wants to say, "Yeah, Lewie, don't worry about this. You're not going to need to know this level of detail unless you go into this field," but then I have to stop myself. With college looming around the corner, he has to prove he understands everything in order to be accepted and, even further, to receive some type of academic scholarship. I wish I could say I wasn't counting down the days until Lewie's summer vacation, but I would be lying.

Driving - Lewie is not able to get his driver's permit yet, but one of his friends turned 16 in December, and two are turning 16 in March. I'm not ready for this stage and am happy I don't have to think about it until August. Still, it's fun to listen to his friends talk about it. One friend has created some type of acronym to remember that the gas pedal is on the right and the brake is on the left. Another is now examining his own parents' driving habits: "Yeah, my mom is a terrible driver; she's always texting." (I know this mom. Should I be worried?!) 

Yes, to say I'm not acclimated to the life of raising a teenager is putting it mildly. It terrifies me, and yet, it also makes me laugh and see how this incredibly awkward stage is all a necessary evil. How can Lewie turn into a young man if he doesn't test the waters? How can he learn to be an individual without being free to make some of his own choices (good, bad, or indifferent)?  How can he learn how to make his own friends and learn what good friends are if Mom and Dad are always trying to protect him? in the meantime, I'll keep forcing him to participate in mandatory family fun, knowing one day, when he's all grown up, he'll appreciate it (I think).


  1. You are such a great mom! Lewie will grow up just fine. And I’m here for you once driving begins. ❤️

  2. All of this is so familiar! Zachary wears the same black zip up hoodie every day and now it needs to be sewn in one spot. He drives, but Simon is at the point where his friends can get permits. They both criticize me. Neither of them do sports but I wish they would. Skiing can be fun but scary I'm sure! Great job on all the things Lewie!

  3. Your blog is a virtual sanctuary of knowledge and inspiration for many.


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