Amy Julia and Marilee sit at a linen-covered table on the beach and look out at the sunset over the ocean

What Happens with Three Days Away with Your Teenager

I’ve never taken a mother-daughter trip with Marilee before. But this year over spring break, Marilee and I spent four nights together in Jamaica.

I was a little worried we would run out of things to talk about. Or that she would think I was boring. Or cringey. Or annoying.

But then we talked about family and social media and school. We sat on the beach and read books. We played tennis and swam in the ocean and both got stripes of sunburn where we somehow failed to apply enough sunscreen. We played backgammon.

We watched Erin Brockovich and episodes of Friends and laughed. We watched the sunset. I watched her growing up.

At one point, I quoted from the Lisa D’Amour book I was reading about teenage girls:

“You’re not parenting very well if your teen agrees with all the decisions you make.”

Marilee cocked her head a bit and said, “Well, then you are parenting very well.”

Sometimes parenting well looks like disagreements and boundary setting and letting them make mistakes and struggle. And sometimes it looks like climbing under the covers and laughing at Chandler Bing’s jokes and eating chocolate and learning about skin care products. And right now, for me, it feels like gratitude for these gifts that we have been given.


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