Mom with child

One of the things that terrified me about becoming a mother is knowing I’m owed some payback for the antics I’d put my parents through during my teen years. My child is the light of my life. Her sweet little voice, winning disposition, and most adorable fashion sense renders her perfect in my eyes; however, I know that when it comes to children this is not the end game. Children become teenagers, and that’s when life is going to become pretty interesting. There are going to be many moments I will cringe thinking, “This is payback for every crazy thing I ever did”. My child is still only a toddler, but already there are several things I can think of that as her mother will make me cringe in mortification.

Crazy Fashions

There are bound to be some horrible fashion choices that will either make me want to throw a coat over my child, or just cover my eyes in shame. I’ve seen thirteen year olds walking around in booty shorts and cropped tops. My husband and I can only hope that nakedness is out of style when our kid reaches middle school. I lived through the backwards pants, Cross Colours, and boys wearing jeans that seemed to defy the laws of gravity as they magically floated somewhere between boxers and knees. My parents despised my mid-nineties looks, which included plastic bracelets, silver vinyl jackets, and 36” bottomed wide-leg pants that one could mop the kitchen floor with simply by walking. My mother called them “clown pants,” and readily told me I looked ridiculous. Personally, I think my parents got off easy on that one because I was over-covered rather than uncovered.

Hair Disasters

When it comes to teenagers, one is bound to experience some form of a hair disaster, whether it be an awful haircut, perm, bleach disaster or dye job. I experienced all of these at one point or another. I had a perm leaving me looking like a poodle. I dyed my hair with Glintz (a 90’s dye that no longer exists) that left me looking like a red skunk as the color only took to my roots. Finally, I had the BIG disaster of bleaching my hair from burgundy to blonde in one sitting. The result was hair that resembled spaghetti when wet, cotton candy when dry, and refused to hold any color for at least a year. That’s not even including how displeased the parents of my brother’s friend were when they found I’d dyed their son’s hair purple. Needless to say, I’m not looking forward to these disasters resulting in hours of tears and hundreds of dollars in correction.

Piercings and Tattoos

There is no escaping the allure of piercings and body art; especially to the eyes of a teenager looking for style and self-expression. I shall never forget the day I came home and stuck my newly-pierced tongue out at my parents. It was a moment to remember. My father looked away before saying, “I’m going for a cigarette,” as he quickly made his way to the nearest exit. My mother just stared at me with that look of “Whose child are you? Certainly not mine”. When I came home with my first tattoo, I listened as my parents both loudly inhaled in horror before saying, “Ewww”. My daughter is already fascinated by my tattoos, my sparkling belly button ring, and the funny shiny thing that still sticks through my tongue.

Judging from her love of stamps and temporary tattoos, I know what is to come. I will be another one of those parents sitting down with my child to explain why there needs to be considerable thought behind something that will be stuck on the body forever. I also know that my advice will more than likely be ignored.

Teenage Romance

There are few things stronger than a teenager’s feelings about young love. It’s a love so intense that you feel you are going to die if you don’t see the object of your affection. Time together is as important as air, and any attempt at separation by parents is seen as the most egregious of offenses. They will lie, sneak out, and cry buckets to see one another. I’ll be told that my child is staying at a friend’s house when she’s really with a boy she’s insane over. One thing I’ll need to remember is the more parents try to break up a relationship, the more the star-crossed lovers in question will fight to stay together, and hang onto each other for dear life. After the inevitable break-up there will be endless crying, moping, depression, and parents sitting outside a closed bedroom door, wondering if their kid will ever touch food again. Not looking forward to that one.


I think the biggest battle I had with my parents was over my curfew. I don’t think any parent escapes this argument. I’d beg, I’d plead, I even tried to pit my father against my mother in my desperation, but my mom was adamant about sticking to the rules. Unfortunately telling an angry, headstrong teenager they can’t do something is not usually going to go over well. I’m already envisioning doors slamming in my face, late nights waiting up worrying, evenings including the silent treatment, and many “I hate you” outbursts. Though it’s going to be painful, deep down I know I’ll deserve it because I shamefully dished it all out myself.

Looking at my sweet toddler I like to think she could never cause me grief, but I know better. Sure there is a possibility my child will turn out to be a bookworm; or a shy, introverted, conservatively-dressed little lady, but my hopes aren’t high. This is a child who busted out with a dance routine in the middle of a busy department store to Salt-N-Pepa. She definitely enjoys attention, socializing, and acting daring at the tender age of two. I also know that I will receive no sympathy from my mother, who put up with more from me than I care to admit. This time around she can sit back with all the other traumatized parents, simply enjoying the fact that it isn’t her, and probably giggle a bit that I’m finally getting my just deserts.

Image courtesy of Marisa Svalstedt.

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Marisa Svalstedt

Marisa Svalstedt is a stay-at-home mom living in her hometown of Bethel, CT, with her husband, and their daughter. She received her MA from Western Connecticut State University where she taught as an adjunct professor. She's recently been featured on The Mighty and In addition to writing, she enjoys crochet and photography.

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