Feeling angsty, anyone?

Angst: Noun. A feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish. 

I recently had the privilege of hosting some very dear friends from Paris for a week.

Our family friendship was one of those serendipitous discoveries. When we met, we found a playmate for each of us, if you will.

They’re a family of four, with an older son and younger daughter close in age to our son and daughter.

We’ve spent a lot of time as one big family on long-weekend camping trips, at holiday meals, and even on European vacations.

When all of us are together, the world seems to be spinning just right.

And yet, we’ve seen each other at our best and our not-so-best.

We have seen members of our group at their wits’ end — completely frustrated by a certain child or perhaps a certain spouse, leading us all down the wrong highway in a different country.

Life can get awkward and uncomfortable.

We’ve shared those everyday discomforts together. And have laughed about them later.

When the kids went through their late-elementary and middle school years, we soaked up our time together with delight.

But now, well, those seem like simpler times.

Now all four of the kids are teenagers, emitting equal parts unfiltered angst and tremendous joy.

And during this recent visit, with all of us living in close proximity, things were sometimes tricky.


Brotherly love

My daughter is new to the teenage circuit (she just turned 13 in the spring).

But, in just a few months, we’ve already seen what this new stage can bring.

And my son, who’s just shy of 16, has no qualms about pointing out any notable changes in her disposition or behaviors.

When she seems to be in a particular mood, he asks: “Oooh, feeling angsty?”

I’m not sure if you’ve had the opportunity to be in the presence of a teen in one of those moods. But that isn’t the first question I’d drop if I noticed it.

In fact, I’d say it pretty much riles her up.

The catchphrase

So now, an unofficial slogan that’s been a trifling annoyance to my daughter has become a bona fide thing — a catchphrase in the Wizbowski home.

When we had our friends stay, the angst traveled from one day — from one adolescent — to the next, serving up a daily dish of huff.

Indeed, angst can make its appearance in multiple teens throughout multiple parts of the day.

It doesn’t need an invite. There’s no protocol. It is, in fact, very progressive, needing no specification of gender.

It just comes.

Sometimes, angst reveals itself as a general mood or aura.

Sometimes it’s a response to a parent or sibling, a sudden verbalization of abnormally spiky thoughts.

Sometimes it’s just because: I am a teen and I need to know I can make my own decisions. And if you don’t back me up. I. Just. Will.

All a mother can do

Sometimes, I just want to be angsty back.

I admit I’ve had my own moments of profound angstiness.

Oh, boy, who wouldn’t?

This is when I pray for grace. Humor. Deep love.

Because there ain’t no stopping the angst when it comes. So I’m going to deliver my own stubborn back.

I will laugh. I will smile. I will hold my breath and walk away.

I’m determined to love them through this.

This angst, it doesn’t stand a chance.

Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, daughter, and son, ages 13 and 15.