My Teens Think My Life Is Pathetic—and That’s OK

Real talk: I used to have similar feelings about my mom when I was a teen. Now I've basically become her, and it feels so right.

woman holding bouquet of tulips

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Last night I had the house to myself and was beyond excited for the great evening I had planned. I was hugging and kissing my kids as they were headed to their father's house, they could sense the thrill in my voice. While I was squeezing them, they asked how I'd be spending my evening.

And by that I mean they said, "Calm down mom, why are you so wound up? Are you going out? Do you have a date?"

I told them how I was going to spin class then coming home to eat soup and binge-watch Windy City Rehab and be in bed by 9 p.m. I was beyond elated.

They looked at me the same way they always do when I mortify them, and in that moment I was reminded, once again, how sad they thought my life was.

When I see a really beautiful bouquet of tulips in the grocery store and stand inhaling their scent and proclaim how I can't wait to bring them home and arrange them they ask me to be quiet before anyone hears me. Because God forbid we get excited about things like pretty flowers.

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And when I organized the pantry and sent them pictures while they were on a trip with their father they didn't understand why I wasn't out doing something else. I mean, how could anyone think this was a fun way to spend their time?

The things that used to get my heart pumping; the dancing, the parties, the staying up late and not spending a second organizing anything much less a pantry, no longer do it for me.

Excitement these days is finding a great new brand of shampoo or finally getting that two-year-old stain out of the carpet.

I mean, talk about satisfaction.

My teens’ comments and reactions to my lifestyle remind me there was a time I used to feel great sorrow for my mother as she was staying home to stencil a chest while I was headed out with friends, or the days she'd wake up and would talk about how she was already looking forward to bedtime.

Essentially, I have become my mother: a middle-aged woman who would rather stay in and read than go out in public and talk to people. Not to mention put on uncomfortable clothing and try to keep my eyes open past 10 p.m. because it just doesn't feel natural to me, most nights anyway.

I remember her doing such things and I'd think, I never want to be like that.

To me, she was living a life which I viewed as boring, and pretty pathetic, and I wondered how I could keep myself away from that hot mess.

Now my kids are thinking the same about me.

But looking back to my teenage years (and most of my 20s), I now realize I always felt angst; I was looking for contentment outside of myself. I always thought that friend, or that outfit, or that man was the key to my happiness.

I was wrong. What happens as you get older, you learn your happiness is an inside job. And if you'd rather stay in and read, or organize the bookshelf on a Saturday evening, you do it because it makes you incredibly happy and you don't care if others view you are boring.

You value things like a cozy sofa, clothes that feel good, plenty of sleep, and the satisfaction of knowing your sweaters are color coordinated.

I know the sentiment is lost on my teens now, but my hope for them is that they someday reach this level of life; where a quiet evening in alone or with a loved one brings them great joy, and they don't care if others think they are living a boring life in the slow lane.

That's not to say I don't still enjoy going out with girlfriends, planning a spontaneous weekend away, or participating in a polar dip. I still want great friends, fantastic relationships, and my love for finding that perfect outfit hasn't faded. I just don't hold these things to the standard that I once did. If that makes me old and boring to me kids (or anyone else), I'm good with that.

And to be perfectly honest, I am more excited about making a new Pad Thai recipe I found on Pinterest tonight and crawling into bed than I am about the date I have later this week, and I feel zero shame. I’m sure someday my kids will understand.