The Lonely Days of Parenting Teens

Carvell Wallace
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readDec 1, 2021

--

The way the crows fly in an angry circle over the hill near the hospital every evening around this time, 4:30pm — 4:45pm. They yell and scream, their cries echoing from the church and the Whole Foods. Soon enough, the entire circle moves westward, though they stay connected. The formation is unruly, and they fall out of it every couple of minutes, only to re-group again, an undulating black wave, spiral-surfing the sky. I’ve lived in this spot for going on three years, and it’s been happening so regularly that I stopped noticing it altogether. It only came back to my attention recently because I was on a phone call around that time and the person I was talking to stopped the call to ask about all the commotion in the background.

These days are mostly silent. “Lonely” could be another word I could use, but I won’t. I am in revisions on a book that is nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be and that I still yet have the temerity to believe can somehow be excellent. Writing requires such absurd and beautiful delusion. I have one piece in edits now, another I just pitched today. It looks as though I’m teaching a class at a graduate journalism school in January. I have financial shit to sort out, a kitchen floor to mop — a floor that collects dirt in a way that is, and I don’t mean this to be dramatic, literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone on planet earth.

My children are disappearing before my eyes. It’s such a small and simple set of changes that are underway. My daughter now has a license and access to a car, and instead of picking her and my son up for my time with them like I used to do when they were little, they now text me that they’re tryna to “pull up.” When they do, we catch up over dinner, watch some TV, talk about relationships, sex, race, politics, school, jobs, fears. They both download all the gossip from their friend groups and jobs. We crack jokes, we process the world. Then they get into a car and go to their mom’s house. The whole thing makes me feel very much like an old man, living alone in an apartment with nothing to keep him company but his books and his pasta recipes.

One of the truly shocking experiences in life is the quickness with which you lose the very things that you used to pray would end. I remember when my daughter was less than 18 months old. She was then, as she is now, a person who could be both stubborn and loud, who could shake the foundations of a room with the force of her voice. This particular night she would not sleep…

--

--

Carvell Wallace
LEVEL
Writer for

This is where I experiment. This is where I learn to write.