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Parenting a teenager: on being Ilori's mom

Updated: Sep 6, 2018

I want to take a moment to get heart-to-heart with my fellow parents of teens. My daughter, Ilori, just started her sophomore year at Newbury Park High School and as a full time Realtor, marketing coach, partner and fill-in-the-void assistant for two family businesses, it's sometimes tempting to put the "mom" responsibility on the back burner. Now one look at my girl and my heart melts. I cherish her and I would do anything for her well being. She is my world, and yet, from 4:15 AM when my alarm goes off to 10:30 PM when my eyes just won't stay open, time with my teenager sometimes manages to slip in between appointments but I haven't given this enough of my attention these past six months or so. Just keeping it real with you guys. I know many of you can relate.

But here's the thing - being Mom to this beautiful, inspiring and amazingly creative young woman is the most important thing in my life, and hers. I'm learning how to juggle every responsibility I need to attend to while still keeping my time with her, QUALITY time.

Here's a pic of this beautiful creature at one of our favorite coffee shops, Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters, this morning at 7:00 AM:

My daughter, Ilori, at Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters
Ilori at Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters

As we made our usual dash out the door at 6:20 AM this morning, I realized how fast time goes by and for a moment I considered taking her out to breakfast. Then reality came in and I remembered her agenda (meet some friends at the coffee shop) and mine, and made a decision to take her out for a mom-and-me date once a month.

I was talking with my mom last night and she was reminiscing on her teen years with her mom as a full-time Realtor, too. It was challenging for my mom to connect with her because my grandma, Bobbie White, was an amazing Realtor and was busy, busy, busy day in and day out. But one thing my grandma did that my mom really loved was surprise her by picking her up from Agoura High School and taking her out to The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood for dinner and a movie. I'd like to keep this tradition up and do the same with Ilori this month.

Here is what I'm committed to for the rest of my daughter's teen years as I build my full-time Real Estate business:

1. Love her fiercely (an easy one) - All of her, including her mood swings, silences, bursts of laughter over a show she's watching on Netflix (on her phone), hand-typed love notes when she feels inspired to share her love, critical and sarcastic comments, mom jeans and belly shirts, bi-weekly $120 shopping visits to Urban Outfitters, sporadic hugs and shouts through the house to have us come and kill spiders.

2. Listen to her and pay attention. Put my phone down when she enters the room to see what's up. Look her in the eye when we chat across the dining room table. Ask for her opinion on things I'm working on, topics of the day, debatable issues and what her friends are doing. Stop my manic brain to clear space and listen to what she has to say.

3. Teach her how to cook. As a full-time working mom, having time to cook and clean every day is just simply not in my reality. But having a stocked pantry and a teen who can not only fend for herself, but put together a full meal that meets her gluten free, dairy free needs is something I can work on with her. I want my daughter to know how to feed herself healthy, rewarding meals.

4. Let her Be. I choose to allow my daughter to express or not express herself however she chooses. She's a creative artist who doesn't always believe in her talents. It's my responsibility to provide her with my time and attention to be creative together if she wants to, and to provide her with the art supplies she needs when she feels inspired to pick up a pencil on her own terms. She wants to wear jeans that look like something my mom would have put on in the 80s, after dragging them behind a pickup truck for 500 miles... and you know what? She pulls it off beautifully.

5. Find the funny everywhere. I tend to take things seriously and that's ok, but I definitely could use some focus on bringing silly into our family's day to day routine. I will be looking for ways to be ridiculous more often. A good idea I got at a parent talk recently was to launch gingerbread houses out the window after the holidays! I love this idea, and I want to do more ridiculous things like this with her. Your ideas and comments are welcomed!

Anyway, I hope you fellow parents of teens got a little inspiration out of this. I'll keep you posted on my efforts and rewarding moments as I go!

Best wishes to you,



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