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The bottom line

2022 June 15
by Rachel Turiel

Rose is cleaning the bathroom while a chirpy female voice broadcasts from the phone propped on the counter top.

“What are you listening to?” I ask.

“A podcast. Tips on how to live a healthy, happy life.”

“Oh cool. How old is she?”


Col consents to go on a run with me, earbuds affixed, transmitting music that often sounds like someone is shouting at me, though he swears helps him feel calm and focused. We charge up through the robin-flocked ponderosas, their collective spring song such a practical approach to dating. I am here, love; come find me. The sun is medicinal, coaxing sweat from every pore. I would make time daily to run alongside my son if he consented, trying to keep up with him while he explains the dynamics of hiphop diss tracks. “So, I’ve been thinking,” Col says, apropos of nothing, “dating a pansexual would be really hard.” 

I am increasingly aware that these kids will leave us; that this is the modern way of things. Our remaining time together is in some way preparation for that next, unimaginable phase. It makes it hard to know whether my job is to convey my unconditional faith in them or to gently explain that brushing ones hair is a socially constructed norm that puts other people at ease by conferring the message that we care about ourselves. (i.e. please go brush your hair before work).

We’re at the point in the family novel where every character is known and accepted. Dan’s hiphop name is Gruff Baby Daddy, but he’s also the parent most likely to make a proper family dinner and give the kids calf rubdowns after CrossFit. “Tell the bus driver to stop for roadkills,” he reminded Rose every time she was ferried home from a high school soccer game, anchoring her to her roots. He sends me texts from work that include the word “amorous” and is currently wearing a divot into the couch watching NBA games, which everyone is happy to see because otherwise he doesn’t stop moving, plus we all know where to find him.

NBA must have been on break this night. And, still snuggly.

I am most likely, when well-resourced, to make space for any and all adolescent emotions, with full blown acceptance and care. And, when under stress, most likely to unleash unsolicited opinions connecting all teenage angst to phones and capitalism. I also find myself doing a lot of relational repairing lately. Ah, you want to be greeted with enthusiasm in the morning, not interrogation. Got it. Thank you for letting me know. The kids are good at letting me know, thank goodness.

Rose is the cleanest, best-smelling, most domesticated among us. She will text me from her job at the local food co-op to ask, “do you sanction me getting some new, grapefruit dish soap?” (While the rest of us may have lost the distinction between dish soap, hand soap, body soap, shampoo…). She purchases her own sets of blank greeting cards, decorative ice cube trays, and has distributed little packs of tissues throughout the house. Last night she emerged from the bathtub, hair mushroomed under a shower cap. “Don’t you have to be over 40 to own a shower cap?” Dan wondered aloud as her skin flung lavender from its surface. She texts me approximately 134 times a day to keep me apprised of her emotional temperature. 

Example from sleepover:

Rose: I feel so jealous of X cause she has so much stuff and such an expensive home

Me: All that nice stuff feels pretty attractive?

Rose: ya I just don’t understand how they have such a fancy house that seems so different than ours

Me: A little bewildering how their house could be so big and new and with so much nice stuff?

Rose: I see you NVCing me

Me: ha ha is there a different way you’d like me to answer?

Rose: idk

Rose: i just want a solution

Rose: but I guess there isn’t really one

Me: My best solution would be to cultivate love and gratitude for all you have.

Rose: Loved “My best solution would be to cultivate love and gratitude for all you have.”

Rose: I agree

Rose: But it’s nice to share my feelings with you

Me: You are always welcome to share how you feel with me.

Arlo has found work! 

Col is on the cusp of getting his driver’s license (He’s created a whole playlist of mom-friendly music to play in the car while he’s getting his driving hours. This is our mutual favorite). He is soon leaving for a month of art school in San Francisco. I can’t even imagine all the opportunity that awaits him. He is exploring his Jewish identity and intrigued by what lies outside the homogeneity of Durango. He is encouraging his Jew-fro and likes to say after a shower, “it’s gonna poof!” Every night I recite my mom prayer. Please find the nice kids whose rebellion leans towards societal commentary in the form of art and notice when your socks need changing.

Col, self portrait. Oil paint on paper. Follow him at @artbycolhinds

We’ve all heard it said that raising teenagers is hard, possibly the hardest stretch of parenting. I agree, though am increasingly seeing that the challenges primarily lie outside of them, not within them. They are in one of the most creative, energetic, open, adventurous, curious phases of life, and society serves them a bland stew, pretending there’s nutrition in the mix. We’ve created these phones that steal their attention and choice, and then get angry with them about using them. We know that contributing our gifts and presence gives purpose to our days, and yet much of adolescent meaning is comprised of appearance, achievements, and acquisitions. Fitting in can mean giving up on authenticity. Being authentic can mean not belonging. 

My friend recently asked me, when I was recounting a current parenting struggle, “what’s your bottom line?” I knew immediately: “Maintaining honesty and connection.” This guides me. When I feel anxious, I want to control, which only encourages sneakiness and resentment in my kids. So I aim to care for that anxiety and breathe my way into the molten core of trust that lives in me. From here, I can actually see the teens in front of me as trying to thrive in a world that doesn’t currently prioritize true individual or communal thriving. From here I find compassion; though, this requires a lot of walking through the garden doing my childbirth breathing.

Rose’s podcast blares on from the bathroom, our one bathroom (yes, I do want extra credit for this, or at least not another damn form of soap), and I can hear the perky female voice extolling her happiness tips. “Every time you click on TikTok you get a lot of dopamine,” her disembodied voice announces, ”which isn’t good, which is why I think you should delete it…”

(Spoiler alert: Rose deleted TikTok a month ago and reported that it was easier to love herself. Then things shifted internally and she added it back, noting that it no longer interferes with her self concept. And, Col has figured out that wearing a hat is almost like brushing ones hair.).

Also, I have no idea what’s happening with this blog here. Is it over? Is it waiting to be turned into an advice column, and would you submit questions if it was? I have been sending out fun, relational and informative newsletters from my professional website, which you may enjoy. Archived newsletters here. 

Also #2 I wrote an Op-Ed about the City of Durango yellow slip we received citing us for “maintaining a nuisance,” or more frankly, the anonymous neighbor who complained about our “overgrown mess of a yard.”

Also #3 I really resonated with this article about teen depression in The Atlantic.

With love,


15 Responses leave one →
  1. Meredith Pollick permalink
    June 15, 2022

    Hi Rachel! So glad to read your blog again! Col’s artwork is AMAZING!!!!!!!! Just wanted to reach out and say hey, you rock, I love you, I hope to see you next time you’re in the East Bay. xoxo, Meredith

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 15, 2022

      Yes, Mere! Early August. Will be in touch. Maybe you can rally the girls.

  2. Pam permalink
    June 15, 2022

    A couple of my favorite lines:

    “And, when under stress, most likely to unleash unsolicited opinions connecting all teenage angst to phones and capitalism.”

    “From here, I can actually see the teens in front of me as trying to thrive in a world that doesn’t currently prioritize true individual or communal thriving.”

    Thank you so much for this clarity, Rachel. The beauty and clarity in your writing is a gift.

  3. Eileen permalink
    June 15, 2022

    Your column today is so right on , inspiring and comforting as our family (kids and grandkids) are entering and are in this same space. Sending tons of love your way Rachel, for your open and generous heart!! Eileen

  4. Judy permalink*
    June 15, 2022

    Hi Rachel – what a bright spot in my afternoon to read your new post –working through with Rose about other families having newer/bigger/more – and getting to being grateful for what one has. Very deep roots, this comparing biz. I enjoyed glimpses of the rest of the family in words & photos – and also the links to yr Op-Ed about “maintaining a nuisance” – a useful phrase in other instances!
    As to where the posts may be going, I just want to weight with the enjoyment they bring, however occasionally you’re able to fit them in. Love, Judy

  5. Dale in Denver permalink
    June 15, 2022

    Your text exchange with Rose made me laugh and cry. So sweet. Col’s artwork is amazing. I loved your op-ed. Were you ultimately cited by code enforcement? Any feedback from your letter? Seems to me, that “maintaining a nuisance” is in the eye of the beholder whether it is so (or not).

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 16, 2022

      Thanks, Dale! It was a “friendly” warning and we did comply with their request to move our nuisance ladders but told the code compliance officer we would not be raking up our leaves and no further action has been taken against the nuisance household.

  6. Ellen permalink
    June 15, 2022

    Keep on blogging!!!

  7. Dan permalink*
    June 15, 2022

    OMG, it’s like Old Times! Keep it up, keep it up. We all need to read gems like this to keep on track, if not maintain some sanity! Thank you for circling back and letting your voice flow out again…and so dang fun to look at some of the old posts… who are those Little People? XOXO -Gruff Baby D.

  8. June 16, 2022

    Glad you’re still here, that’s my vote. Loved this, and the unruly garden op-ed.

  9. Kier Fullmer permalink
    June 16, 2022

    Please never stop blogging.
    I love reading your words. You have so much more to write about and we all have so much more to gain from your writing.
    My only wish is that our kids were the same age so that I could have practiced what I have learned from you. I still do, but they are at a very different age. Lots of love to you all.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 16, 2022

      Kier, good to hear from you.

  10. June 16, 2022

    Even if you only blogged four times a year, your blog would be the first one I read when I checked my feed and saw a new post there. I hope you stay and write a while even if you aren’t writing frequently these days.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 16, 2022

      Misti, this is so sweet to hear. Thank you.

  11. Jessica permalink
    June 30, 2022

    Thank you for your willingness to share. It’s a joy when there is a new post!

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