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Hello Teenagers, Goodbye Romance

Mar18

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I see you snickering, over there. You with the little kids who are on you, literally attached to your body like koalas, every single minute of the day. You dream of a time when your children will be self-sufficient, when wiping someone else’s butt will be a distant memory, when no meal requires you to cut food into tiny squares, when the chorus of “Mommy mommy mommymommymommy MOOOOOOMMMMYYYY!!!”s is no more and you will have some of your own life back.

You’re snickering, because how can I possibly say that having teens is harder on a healthy love life than little kids? Do I just not remember what it’s like to having living, breathing, endlessly-wailing appendages of needy need?

I remember. I really do. What I can tell you is that there’s a magic age range—a sweet spot, if you will—when your children are old enough to be less needy and more predictable. Tweens can do things for themselves (lots of things, really) and they’re starting to have their own lives, but they still go to bed early, and they sleep through the night when they do. There’s some years in there where you’re lulled into believing that children don’t kill romance. “Why, this isn’t so bad,” you think, as you and your significant other break out some wine and cheese one night after the kids are tucked in. “I can work with this!”

But then… they turn into teenagers. And that’s the end of romantic evenings. Sorry.

Let me tell those of you who aren’t there yet what it means to have teens in the house when it comes to, um, getting cozy on a regular basis. Having teenagers means that they never go to bed. I mean, yes, I do enforce school-night bedtimes, on account of I am a giant meaniepants (and also because teenagers are chronically sleep-deprived and grumpy, and I am losing many battles here, but I’m still waging war), but even those bedtimes are… not early. And—let’s be honest—they’re not even really enforceable. Really all I can do is insist that the kids are in their rooms at a certain time of night, and then if the lights are out and they’re quiet, we just call that a win. Their regular bedtimes aren’t that much earlier than I would like to be in bed. (And by that I mean the time when I would like to be sleeping, because I am old and the alarm clock goes off early.) Thanks to that magical circadian rhythm shift that tries to happen in the teen years, both of my kids suffer from insomnia (read: their bodies want be late night party animals, and there is no alarm clock they can’t sleep through), which also means that—much like toddlers—one or the other of them may appear couch- or bed-side well after bedtime to announce that they can’t sleep, too.

Oooooh, baby. That’s so nice. I love it when you… oh, hang on. I have to go get some melatonin for this whining teenager. (Mood. Killer.)

Let me tell you something else about teenagers, lest you think, “Well hey, no problem, be flexible and just forget about evenings, maybe.” Teenagers have sixteen different places to be and they need rides to all of them (and money, too, though that’s not as germane, here), and you would think that would mean you’d have plenty of time without the children around, but you would be wrong. In reality, if you’re lucky enough to have a parenting partner, that simply means your shared Google calendar is a twisted mass of transportation negotiations (you take this one here, I’ll take that one there), and the chances of having a significant chunk of time with no kids around (if you have more than one child, anyway) is somewhere between slim and none. And when the kids are home, it’s not just your kids. I was so eager to be The House, you know? I thought I was being smart. Oh, we’re The House, alright. I gave birth to two children, but I can’t tell you the last time there were only two kids here. I’m okay with telling my own kids to go amuse themselves for a while and sneaking off with my husband, but when other people’s kids are here (and when there’s a kid who has similar designs on one of my kids, *ahem*), I need to behave. And stay clothed. So that I can pop into the room every so often to make sure everyone in there is also behaving and clothed.

This is where I should tell you the solution—wrap it all up with a few scintillating tips on how we manage to “keep the flame alive” or whatever, right? Well, we’re still figuring it out, I guess. A well-placed, “Oooh, baby, do you come here often?” in the aisle at the grocery store can be a good intimacy-builder, even if all it does is make you both burst out laughing.

Also, we’ve discovered that if a teenager is protesting an exhortation to get on up to bed, it can be useful to point out that you’re planning to take your pants off, and sure, they can stay, but things are probably going to get awkward. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen it (several times) with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe someone could scuttle up the stairs so fast while doing a face-palm.

Hey, romance is hard to come by once they get to this age. We make it any way we can. We try to cling to the knowledge that those kids will be out of the house soon enough, and then we’ll never even have to wear pants.

About the author

Mir Kamin

http://wouldashoulda.com/
Mir Kamin began writing about her life online nearly a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she's become one of those people who talks to her dog in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she's continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she's bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.


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15 Responses to “Hello Teenagers, Goodbye Romance”

  1. Sara Mar 18 at 1:30 pm Reply Reply

    This, this, oh a thousand times, this!! (Can you tell I can relate?)

  2. Amy Mar 18 at 1:37 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t have children yet as you know. But I would suggest that you start wearing dresses more and that Otto should start wearing a kilt more and then boom, no need to remove pants, wham, bam, thank you ma’am.  

    You’re welcome for the sage advice.

  3. Paula Mar 18 at 1:44 pm Reply Reply

    Truer words have never been spoken. Also? I think Amy may be on to something! ;D

  4. Katherine Mar 18 at 1:59 pm Reply Reply

    My teens pretty much just live in their rooms and luckily for us, they don’t tend to appear in our room after the lights are out. Very occasionally we’ll get a knock on the door (but we can’t actually CLOSE the door all the way or the cat scratches at the door until someone gets up and lets her in). 

    I’ve given up on enforcing a bedtime, though I do remind them that it is late and they should be heading towards bed. and remembering to BRUSH their teeth. My nearly 18 yo will be off at college (somewhere, who knows where yet) in less than 6 months, so I figure he needs to figure out how to get enough sleep on his own. He recently started showering in the morning and was being tired, so he finally started putting himself to bed earlier. I was still surprised to find him in bed, lights out at 8:30 one night!

  5. js Mar 18 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

    I just want to say that I am envious of all the grown ups out there having sex for the fun of it instead of for the purpose of trying to make a baby, however infrequent it may be.

  6. Stacy Mar 18 at 2:38 pm Reply Reply

    My parents married when I was 3 and the last kid they had was when I was 12.  My husband and I have a 5 year old and he has 2 teenagers.  He’s also in the Navy.  Sex sucks, or rather, trying to find time when we aren’t exhausted (and we’re both home), sucks.  My mother assures me that sex after the kids leave the house is absolutely amazing.  I’m holding on to her words, while trying to let that vision go!

  7. Jenni Mar 18 at 2:47 pm Reply Reply

    What about when you have the occassional teen (lives with her mom, here every other weekend) and a 5 yr old AND a 2 month old?

  8. RL Julia Mar 18 at 3:02 pm Reply Reply

    Got two words for you – Saturday Morning. I can almost always count on 6:00 am (hey sleep in a little and go for 6:30 or maybe even (gasp) 7:00) as a time that is free -at least most of time.

  9. mandy Mar 18 at 3:43 pm Reply Reply

    Since my night owl child became a teen hubby and I have become morning people. I nice long, hot shower with benefits is a great way to start the day and we are guaranteed privacy because god forbid my darling teen get up before noon. 

  10. Nelson's Mama Mar 18 at 5:00 pm Reply Reply

    Ahem.  How about thinking and believing that the remaining teenager is GONE…not on the premises, but returns thirty minutes before her ACT review class is supposed to end?

    Husband doesn’t believe me when I say –  “I hear something in the kitchen”.

    Not awkward at all. ;)

  11. Tonia Mar 18 at 6:31 pm Reply Reply

    This is sooooo my life.

  12. ladybug Mar 18 at 7:35 pm Reply Reply

    Does your kid record minecraft/battlefield play-throughs?  With commentary?  With his friends?  Just the thought of being accidental background noise on his youtube channel…

  13. Donna at TheDeliciousDozen May 29 at 7:06 pm Reply Reply

    I thought we were the ones doing something wrong!. Since misery loves company, I’m happy we’re not the only parents looking for a quiet moment for romance -when we’re both awake.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dear kids: don’t read this one | Woulda Coulda Shoulda - Mar 18

    […] over at Alpha Mom I’m sharing the naked truth about keeping romance alive when you have teenagers. Spoiler: It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be (and not in a “that’s what […]

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