Never in my years of parenting teenage girls, with four more long years to go, would I have thought I would write these words. I believe in hormones. Teenage hormones and adult mid-life hormones. With all of their incredibly painful and messy consequences, they are nonetheless the catalysts of major positive changes.
Consider my older daughter, whose hormones must have kicked in at age three when she refused to talk to me for nine months after her younger sister was born. This was a mere prelude to what began when she hit sixth grade and discovered boys. Life became chaos, with explosions over every possible request – pick up clothes, be civil, do homework. You would have thought I was requiring her to build a new house by herself. Come to think of it, that might have defused the energy.
Mid door slamming and screaming, we have finally made it to her departure for college this fall. Again, she is not speaking to me, unless a crisis develops: “Mom, mom, I was in a car accident and I don’t have my insurance card. What’s the phone number?” or when she breaks up with Boyfriend Number Infinity Plus One.
But she got it together to fill out applications on her own (“I don’t WANT your help, Mom, I can do it WITHOUT YOU”). When I gripe to my mom, she laughs and says, “Well, you wanted to raise strong independent girls and you succeeded.” Without the hormones prompting rebellion, she never would have broken away from me, not an easy task. She and her sister have lived primarily with just me most of their lives, and I am not exactly the meek, mild, and submissive type of mom who makes cookies: “MOM – why can’t you be like the other moms???”
Her younger sister did not hit the hormonal years until ninth grade, when she metamorphosed overnight from a child whom I thought would never turn into a tiger into an MTV Frankenstina. The first two years were the worst (and during those years, my older daughter became Little Miss Sunshine), but the train of boys gets more educated and accomplished all the time. So does she. I had always thought of her as my baby – never again.
Who am I to criticize? Hormones put me into a disastrous relationship with someone whose career I envied. I now have a similar career, but no disastrous relationship. And they led the girls’ father out of the closet and into the right life for him. Were any of our hormonal manifestations user-friendly? Definitely not, but we all grew into what we were meant to be. I’m proud of us – all four of us.
The Buddhists, who most likely don’t believe in hormones, say that emotions are the truth that lies beneath the narratives that hold us back. I believe those emotions are hormones.
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