Amanda Lamb: I love you, I love you not – the joys of parenting a 15-year-old

In my second tour of duty as the mother of a teenager, I’d have to say 15 is one of my favorite ages. It’s also one of my least favorite ages. How can it be both?

I love 15 because my daughter cannot drive yet, so I still have a modicum of control over where she goes and what she does. She has her driver’s permit, and is learning to drive. So, we have more time in the car together — time with her behind the wheel instead of buried in her phone — more time to talk.

Fifteen is difficult because my daughter cannot drive yet, and she has a busier social calendar than I do, so our family’s schedule revolves many days around her activities.

Young women, little girls

I love 15 because while they are growing into young women, they are still little girls in so many ways who need their mothers. Their needs range from rides to meals to advice to help unsticking a zipper on a dress in a restaurant bathroom (it had to ultimately be ripped and a sweatshirt tied around the waist). As a mother, it is still nice to be needed, even when many of the things they ask for they can do themselves.

Fifteen is difficult because they should be at an age where they can do more for themselves (I know we did at that age). But in many ways, they are still very needy, they are little girls who need their mothers. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night hearing “Mom” ringing in my ears from the previous day of needs …

I love 15 because they are still not entirely living their lives in secret yet. They still want to talk to me and share what is going on in their lives. I know from experience that this disappears around 16. I hear it comes back around 20. I’m still waiting with my older daughter.

Fifteen is difficult because teenagers, especially girls, like to tell you about minutia — who did what to whom, why life is so “unfair” and “hard.” So, while they like to share what is going on in their lives, they want you to bemoan every little detail of their misery when you’re exhausted from fighting your own daily battles.

The last time

But I will choose to love 15 because this is the last time I will ever have a 15-year-old.

This is the last time a gaggle of girls will cram into my car, laughter exploding like a volcano at the sight of a Snapchat post, empty water bottles and fast food bags littering my backseat, always something left behind — a sweatshirt, headphones, a house key.

They are on the precipice of womanhood, and I just want to hold onto them a little bit longer, to hear one more story about a boy, a teacher, or a YouTuber. I want to hear their giggles, see the way they can dishevel a clean room in one minute, devour a pizza in two minutes and how they can tell you they love you and hate you all in the course of a single three-minute conversation.

Parenting 15 isn’t easy, but no one ever promised it would be. It prepares you for the next phase — the one I like to call: Hold-onto-your-seat-belts-it’s-about-to-get-real.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the . Find her here on Mondays.