Mornings with a Teenage Daughter

How the routine has changed over the years

Each morning, my 18-year-old daughter Melissa's iPhone alarm rings at 5:45 am. As for me, I enjoy those last few moments of precious sleep until my clock radio shakes me awake a mere 15 minutes later.

As I stumble into the bathroom to embrace my routine, she's already downstairs eating breakfast.

Occasionally, our feisty feline will try to convince me that his favorite human (Melissa) neglected to serve his morning Friskies.

"Did you feed the cat?" I croak, standing at the top of the stairs, barely concerned that this question has replaced the much more loving, "Good morning, sweetie," as the first words spoken to my teen at the break of day.

"Yeah," comes her barely coherent response.

Satisfied that the cat has simply feigned starvation, I ignore his plea for more food and force myself into the shower. It is here that thoughts of the day ahead fill my mind. Work deadlines, errands to run, appointments to make…all while washing and rinsing my hair.

It is when I am finally toweled and dried, standing in my robe, blow dryer in hand, that I actually see my teen for the first time each morning. She pops in and gives me a hug, yells goodbye to her still sleeping dad, and as the echoes of my "have a great day" wishes reverberate down the stairs, she closes the door behind her and gets in the car, ready to start another day of school.

Our mornings weren't always this devoid of emotion.

As a newborn, Melissa's days were met with diaper changes and bottle feedings followed by snuggling with mommy for her morning nap. Kisses and hugs were in full supply as I unwillingly got her ready for daycare a few months later and made the transition to working mom.

The toddler years involved picking out outfits and getting her dressed and combing her hair and squeezing her tight. The elementary school years came with more independence, yet I still helped her pick out her clothes, fed her breakfast, smothered her with kisses and watched as she climbed on the bus, waving goodbye as she started her day.

The middle school years found me hiding in the living room, a paranoid mother peeking out the window to make sure she safely boarded the bus.

Now she is in high school—senior year in high school, and our morning interactions are nearly non-existent.

But we make up for it at night.

For it is bedtime when my daughter seeks me out, hunts me down and tells me about her day. We talk about homework and teachers, tests and college applications, friend drama and boy crushes, youth group meetings and school play auditions.

I realize that these days are fleeting and the nearly non-existent interactions that provide the foundation for our days will be all but gone by this time next year, as she'll be getting ready each morning inside a dorm room instead of the bathroom down the hall.

But if my cherub needs to talk, to seek me out, to hunt me down, I will always be there…just a phone call away.

Lisa Weinstein is a South Jersey mom who blogs about parenting a teen, coping with middle age and celebrating nearly two decades of marriage. This post was adapted from her blog, The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein.

Categories: MomSpeak