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Tales from the Motherhood: Teenagers offer unique brand of constructive criticism

It’s mildly disconcerting to be critiqued by your offspring. Especially when they’re teenagers. By then, they’re really “on” to you. Know what I mean? They “see” you, even size you up, much as your peers might – but if you’re lucky, like I am, they’ll also share their observations with you.

You know, like my personal favorite, “You chew so loudly.” Yup, good times. (I’m beginning to develop a complex. Do strangers think I chew “weird,” I wonder?)

Oh, how I miss the days when my children issued love notes, instead. Now, I’d just settle for a day without snark.

Whilst rummaging through a box of old pictures this week, in search of a few to bring to our family reunion, I happened upon a bundle of their sweet notes to me. Oh, what a joy, to stumble upon the first one, the “I love you, Mom!” scribbled on sketch paper in “little-kid” handwriting so many years ago, the edge still ragged from being torn from the pad, and illustrated with a huge heart. The heart fills the page. It was displayed on my fridge for months.

There are a few tears and a few more ragged edges, now.

I haven’t gotten one in quite a while. These days, my kids are adolescents, and I’m more apt to inspire embarrassment than admiration.

Seems my ways are now considered cringe-worthy. I totally get it, and even stifle a smile, when I have the wherewithal.

Parents of teenagers can surely relate. Seems we mortify our dear offspring without even trying.

For example, not only do I chew loudly, but I speak loudly, too. And even laugh way too enthusiastically – so I’m told.

“We’re already ‘that’ family, and we haven’t even gotten on the plane,” Holly said, as I giggled at the gate before we boarded, bound for our reunion. Ah, yes, the old “laughing in public” offense.

From now on, whenever I feel waves of adolescent snark coming my way, well, first I’ll try to look for any grains of truth they may deliver (no one dishes out more candor than a teenager) – but then I’ll remember the sweet little note with the big heart, and let my heart swell once more.

The love “notes” my kids issue these days may look a little different – and may be harder to read – but they’re not lost on me.

“That” family? Why yes, yes indeed.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at

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